Another One

I tried to live today like I want my year to be. I wanted to run, read, do a little cleaning, watch a movie, spend time with my son and husband, and eat sushi–all activities I’d like to do for the rest of the year. I actually got to do all of those things, but nothing quite turned out the way I wanted or expected.

My 5k run wasn’t horrible as far as speed or conditions, but I felt absolutely uncomfortable in my body. If you watched me run, you probably thought I had major tics or was having a seizure. I kept moving my shoulders, trying to relax, tucking and untucking my shirt, adjusting my hat, and just flailing about. Nothing felt quite right. I could only focus for a few seconds here and there, but mostly it was just crappy. BUT, the sunshine was wonderful, little wind, and the 27 degrees felt much better than it sounds.

I didn’t read what I should have, but I read the last in a graphic novel series (Fence) that my son and I have been reading and it’s highly enjoyable. I feel no guilt whatsoever for not reading anything for work or my committee.

My son and I took down the outside Christmas lights and decorations. I wish I had a photo of my son taking down Darth Vader and hugging him close. It was damn adorable. My husband made us a lovely ham dinner for lunch and I got a smidge of vacuuming done, but no other cleaning took place. I ended up doing a bit of yoga instead and I think my time was well spent.

For a while everyone did their own thing, so I watched “Blackbird” starring Susan Sarandon. Have you seen it? It’s about a woman who wants to end her life because her ALS is starting to restrict what she can do. She invites her family over for the weekend so they can spend time together and say goodbye. Not really uplifting per se, but I feel very strongly about dying with dignity and wish every state in this country would allow people to die how they choose. Most people don’t even get the chance to die where they want much less dying how they want to.

I didn’t intend to watch this film today, but I borrowed it from the library a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting in front of our television since then. I couldn’t remember what it was about until I put it in and figured, “What the hell.” I’ll be honest, though, I haven’t finished it yet. I just watched a scene where the woman with ALS gives everyone a gift at the table, including her wedding ring which she gives to her husband. I was crying before we got to that part and completely lost it at that moment. I figured it was a good time to stop.

We picked up sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home for dinner. We decided we’d have a nice living room picnic and watch “Titans” on HBO Max. Of course, the one thing I really wanted was mistakenly left out of our order–miso soup! It always makes me feel better for anything that ails me. I whined for a few minutes then ate my absolutely fantastic raw fish and rice with my family. At one point my son and I argued and there was slamming of a door and sighing and generally feeling pissed off, and then the moment passed and we finished eating and we were ok. The three of us sat around after watching an episode and just chatted and laughed and enjoyed the moment.

My lovely son being the person he is, stopped and said, “You know this is great. Just hanging out, talking and laughing. This is really great.”

It is. It is really great. THAT is what I want this year and next year and every year I’m on this planet to be. I want it comprised of good conversation, lots of laughing and loving, good food, exercise, reading, time outside–preferably while feeling good inside this body but I’ll work on that. There will always be disappointments and disagreements and grief and stress and more crying than you would think is possible. But I also know there will also be at least a few surprises and encouraging words and acts of kindness and moments of happiness and laughing and many memories. There are so many good memories with those we’ve lost as well as with those that are still here. But there are more good memories to be made.

So let’s go make those good memories, ok? Even a great conversation over the phone or on Zoom can create a great memory. Let’s connect while we can and while we’re still here.

Hugs to you all, my friends.

Breathe Easier

I’ve always loved this time of year: the lights, the music, the food, the gifts and the cheer. But there have been tough holidays, too–the first Christmas without my brother was incredibly horrible. My grief was so overwhelming that I had to smoke a joint before I could leave my room. Last Christmas, the first without either of my parents, I cried every day of December and silently sobbed numerous times on Christmas Day. And I know, for many of you, this Christmas will be lonely or filled with grief. Many of my friends lost a parent this year, a friend lost her adult son, and I lost two friends just in the past month. Or maybe you can’t be with your loved ones because of COVID-19 and you’ll miss the gingerbread cookies or that spiked eggnog your stepfather makes or you’ll just miss the comradery, the hugging, the love.

So…what do you do? How can you get through this holiday with some kind of good cheer?

There’s always Zoom or FaceTime or phone calls. It’s not the same but it can ease the loneliness a bit. Or how about driving a few hours just to drop off a little gift and give a few friends a great big smile at how silly you look?

Penelope Twinkle Toes

Since I know this year has been tough on so many, I wanted to do a little something for a few of my friends. These women are colleagues who have become friends and they’ve done a bit of extra hand-holding with me this past year and although I hope I had reciprocated their kindness, I needed to do more. Hence my adorable outfit. 😉

Since I was little, I loved unicorns. Remember those Lisa Frank stickers and notebooks with the pastel colored unicorns and rainbows and all that jazz? I loved that shit. Still do. And now that I’m closing in on 50 years old, I can embrace my weirdness. I can fly my freak flag high—and wear a purple unicorn onesie wherever and whenever I want. So I traveled over two hours to briefly visit with a few of my friends with a goodie bag of treats in the hopes of making their day. And mine. This was seriously the best gift I may have ever given myself. I absolutely LOVED seeing their surprised faces. It brought me so much joy! It made me a bit envious of Santa–except the landing on roofs or going down chimneys–that part doesn’t look like fun.

I’ve done a few other gift drop offs since my Santa Unicorn day–sans the unicorn outfit–and hope to do a few more. A visit, even if it’s a masked 6 feet away visit, is the best gift anyone can give or receive right now. And if you can’t do that, just send a note. Seriously. Please let people know you’re thinking of them and care for them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived–that is to have succeeded.” My friend, Tracy, died of cancer last month. She was 47. One of the very last things she ever wrote me was that I was one of the sweetest people she’s ever known. Her words made ME breathe easier. I didn’t know what to do for her and said as much, but then she gave me the ultimate kindness of telling me I’ve done ok. That I’m a decent person.

I don’t know if I made my friends breathe any easier when I showed up at their homes and work places in a unicorn costume, but I made them smile and laugh and tear up a smidge. For now, that will do.

Let’s strive to have more lives breathe easier.

May you all experience joy and good cheer during this holiday season. Hugging you all from afar.

She Flew Away

It’s been a year.

It was cloudy here this morning, much like this day last year. As my husband and I started to watch CBS Sunday Morning, I kept looking outside just after 9am. I kept looking for that sunbeam. I kept looking for her.

You see, I missed the moment Mom died. I left her bedside 5 minutes before she died. My sister was with her, as was the hospice nurse and doctor. The hospice care had just arrived as I was about to leave for my own doctor’s appointment. I remember telling Mom that I’d be right back. Before I even got across town to the doctor’s office, my sister called me.

I had a lot of anger towards Mom for that. For dying when I wasn’t there. And then the hospice doctor told me that just after Mom died, the sun broke through the clouds and shown through the window for just a minute, as if Mom was saying that she was ok. It gave me comfort for a bit, but then that pissed me off, too. I kept thinking, “Really, Mom?!? You sent a message to Bonnie and the doctor, but not to me?!?” Yup. I was that angry and irrational.

But as this year has passed, my anger has turned inward. I was so mad at myself for leaving that day. I really did believe I had the rest of the day to be with her and I felt like I needed to get this appointment out of the way. It was with the surgeon for my broken arm 3 months before, and it still hadn’t healed the way I thought it should, so I wanted to get some clarification. But it could have waited. Nothing was more important at that moment then my mother.

And yet I left.

Like most human beings, I am extremely selfish. And I don’t always make the best choices. On October 4th, 2019, I made a bad choice and I’ll never, ever forget it.

I know if Mom was here, she’d say that it was ok. I was her baby and my health should have come first. But it really didn’t. She was on her deathbed for fuck’s sake! I was absolutely foolish to think I would have the rest of the day with her, and even if I did, why was that enough time when I knew I would never get her back? That I would be motherless for the rest of my life?

Mom & my boy.

So…this morning…no sunbeam. My sister said she saw lots of birds, which makes both of us think of our parents, and she was going to bake today in honor and memory of Mom. I planned to (and did) the same. But I still kept looking for some damn sign.

I have never thought of myself as spiritual. I’m agnostic, which means I don’t know what’s “true” as far as religion goes and have faith in just about nothing. But since 3/4 of my family has died, I am constantly looking for signs that they’re out there. I can’t help it. Part of me thinks it’s ridiculous, but the other part misses my brother and parents so much sometimes that I can’t function so I need to think that they are somehow ok.

This morning, after watching the cloudy skies for a while, I took a quick walk with my son then gathered my running gear to go for a 5-miler. The music I listened to was just background noise as I kept my eyes on the road or sky, thinking about Mom. I tried not to remember last year, but instead thought of myself as a teen, watching Mom cook in our kitchen while I told her about my day. I thought of her knee-slapping laugh when my brother said something extraordinarily naughty and funny. I thought of her face lighting up when my boy entered the room.

I glanced up at the sky at the 2-mile mark, and saw one crow flying alone. No other birds, no other crows, just one bird flying west. I ran along and watched it for as long as I could.

“Hi Mom,” I whispered.

Eventually, the crow flew away and I kept running.

Once I got back home, I’ve basically been baking non-stop. Almond lemon cookies, banana bread, and for the first time, rum cake. Mom made rum cake for every single Christmas and it was always one of my favorite things she baked. I didn’t use her recipe for my first try, and although my family says it’s great, it’s definitely not as good as Mom’s. It’s not as boozy as hers was! I’ll try it again near the holidays.

I had hoped between the running and the baking, I’d feel a bit better, but I don’t. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Most days it feels like a decade, and other times I relive Mom’s last few days so much that it seems like yesterday.

I want to ask a favor of you. If you knew my mom, I’d love for you to toast her tonight with a cookie or a piece of cake or a drink of any kind. Remember something good about her–about her cooking in the school kitchen, about her laughing at a joke, about her loving her kids and grandkids. And if you never knew my mom, then think about your own–whether living or gone, and toast her. Give praise to her if you can. Let’s send some love out to the universe tonight. ❤

My Whiteboard

I listen to the “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” podcast, featuring Zach Braff and Donald Faison of the television show Scrubs. It’s a great distraction from life and it makes me laugh hysterically when I take walks or do housework. Zach often talks about his whiteboard and how if you want things to happen, you need to visualize them. So he writes things he wants to happen on a whiteboard and places it where he can see it.

I have a whiteboard in my office at work, and I write the annual goals I want to achieve regarding my library. I finally crossed off “Write and adopt a collection development policy” after having it on the list since I was hired. But this summer I added “Do not physically harm another person” after the staff and I had a particular trying day in the library.

I’ve never had a lot of personal goals, though, unless they related to my weight. I STILL want to lose 13 more pounds, but after literally running hundreds of miles this summer AND watching what I eat, that damn scale hasn’t budged. But my pants fit better so I’m throwing my hands up for now!

Occasionally I’ll have a new year’s resolution where I try a new recipe each week or do something that scares me every month, or I’ll have a particular running goal like running a half on my mom’s birthday. But now, after running for nearly 10 years (this December), I have a goal that I’m ready to say out loud. I might even get a whiteboard for home to write it on there, but this is even better than a whiteboard. Because y’all will know what I’m trying to do. The scary part for me is that you’ll also know if I fail.

I told very few people about running a half for Mom–just my husband and maybe a couple of friends. But even with my friends it was just in passing like “I might do this.” Hell, even with my husband, I gave myself lots of outs just in case.

But this is something on my bucket list. This is something I’ve really wanted to do for nearly 10 years, but never thought I had it in me. And yet….I want to have the strength to do this.

I want to run a marathon.

I know, it’s no big deal, right? People do this ALL the time. Yeah, well, it also takes a lot of training and a lot of effort and I honestly don’t even know if my body (or my mind) can do it. But…I really want to and I’m willing to put in the effort to at least try. Being the librarian I am, I’ve been reading books that I own, that my library owns, and ordering a ton of material through interlibrary loan to find a plan that will work for me. I’ve weeded out a few already, but some have just some really great advice or inspirational stories that I’ll probably photocopy to keep me going.

I won’t do an in-person race, even if there are any next year. If I did, it would be the Bay of Fundy International Marathon where you run from Maine to Canada. (Seriously, doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!?) I have a date in mind for next year when I’d like to try and run a marathon at home, but I’m not ready to say the date because as we all know, life can get in the way. Shit happens. I could break my other arm. You never know.

But for now, I’m just throwing my dream out there into the world and I’m hoping I can make it come true. I’ll surround myself with plans and research and opinions. I’ll talk to my doc (who is a runner) and I may even consult a dietician. I’ll buy more running shoes and at least one more pair of shorts. And, of course, I’ll keep running.

If you have run a marathon, I’d love to hear your story or any tips you want to share. I plan to ask at least Kirsten, Kola and Kartika a few questions (and I love that the three friends I know for sure have run a marathon have names that begin with K!).

And who knows? Maybe I’ll even get a tattoo afterwards.

For you, Mom

If you run two half marathons in 3 weeks, does that mean you can say you ran a marathon? 😉 Yeah I didn’t think so, but it was worth a shot.

Today I ran the half marathon I had intended to all summer. I’ve been training since late May for this, and although I ran a half on August 30th (a PR of 2:32), I really wanted to run today in honor and in memory of Mom, on what should have been her 74th birthday.

I’ve had some bad runs lately and haven’t been feeling great–aching shin around the lump in my leg from my treadmill fall, twinge-y right hamstring, and tender left knee. And emotionally I’ve just been…off. I suppose we all have been though, right? I’ve been thinking all week about the amazing women in my life that are gone, but also the incredible women in my life that I still have. I’ve tried to be a really good friend this week, but also I’ve made an effort to be a good person. I wish it always came naturally, but it doesn’t. So this week I tried to reach out to people who I might not usually and just say “hi” or “what can I do for you” or “thank you.”

So with all those thoughts and feelings running through me, I got up this morning and tried to prepare my head and my body for what I would hope be a decent 13.1 miles. I wore lots of black, including my “You Got This” shirt, and an orange ponytail holder that made me think of Mom. (Orange was her favorite color–her kitchen counters were orange!) I told my husband I may call him in an hour, and if not, he knew where to meet me with extra water and Gatorade.

As I began my run, I first concentrated on how my body was feeling. I started out fairly slow and just kept moving forward. The first half of the run would be similar to the half I did three weeks ago, but by the time I reached mile 6, I was in completely new territory…and I loved it. I’ve driven on the Lapoint Road in Stetson many, many times (I take it nearly every day in the winter) but running it is extremely different. I was able to admire the scenery more than usual, that cool little pond I had never been up close to, that adorable sign with the birds that make me laugh out loud and think of both of my parents. Much of the run on this road was serene and absolutely enjoyable–except of course the corners where there was nowhere to run but on the road and there would always be two cars coming in both directions. Every. Single. Time. BUT, most folks were extremely courteous this Sunday morning and I had few problems.

Once I reached mile 9, my husband was there for fluid refills and to cheer me on. This is where I began my 2.5 mile stretch on the dirt road which I knew would be hell on my feet. Large sections of this road now have this weird roller pattern, so when you drive over it you’re bumping up and down and feeling like your car will shake apart. And running on it is no better. As your foot lands on the gravel, it doesn’t know where to go. My large canoes could feel a bump in the arch of my foot while my toes and heels felt like they were sinking. Other parts of the road had so much gravel that I slid on stones several times–but I didn’t fall!

I could hear my mother’s voice so clearly through the entire second half of the run. All my life I would tell her my worries about my ability to do something–whether it be passing a class or moving to Pennsylvania for graduate school or raising my son or even going for a long run–and her response to me was always the same, “You can do it. No problem!” She had such faith in me which I often envied. But today I thought, “Yes. I can do this. My body and my mind can do this.”

Thankfully, once I was off the dirt road, I only had 1.5 miles to go and it wasn’t horrible. And I suppose it wouldn’t be, because Mom was with me the entire way.

Mom and I with a giant beer at the Roadkill Cafe in Greenville, Maine back in 1995.

As I ran to the finish line (my driveway), my son ran with me the last bit while my husband shot a video. It was a good, strong finish (2:36) with a bit of sweat and a few tears.

Happy birthday, Mom. I so wish you were here to enjoy your coffee and blueberry cupcake.

But maybe you’re in a place where you are celebrated like you should be–with lots of fantastic food (especially ice cream) and an endless supply of good, hot coffee. ❤

I love you so much, Mom. I miss you and your badass self. Thank you for loving me and believing in me. I’m trying to do that for myself now. I think I’m doing ok.

Lack of Appreciation

Do you ever feel like you should be more grateful than you are? Do you ever think, “I know I should appreciate this but…”

Right now my life is ok. Some cool things are happening at work, I’m reading and running a lot, and my family is mostly healthy. My house is still standing, we’re not in the path of a wildfire or hurricane, and we currently do not have a virus that could affect our health for the rest of our lives.

And yet…I’m sad and angry but with a few hours of happiness and contentment thrown in.

This afternoon, my son and I took a walk together and chatted about school, work, history and video games. His dark humor and laugh remind me of my brother so much sometimes that it either takes my breath away, makes me tear up, or brings me joy to see some of Phil alive in my boy.

But once our walk was over, I took another walk alone on our rural road to try and center myself. I just felt so out of sorts today. I can’t focus on much, my right hamstring was tight and achy, and I’ve felt the urge to cry all afternoon and evening.

Thoughts of my mother have been pressing on me all day. As I walked tonight, I felt suffocated by the lack of her presence. I miss her. She would often reassure me when I didn’t think I knew what I was doing as a parent. She would coddle me when I got hurt. She never stopped being my mom, even when I needed to become her parent.

And right now I just really want my mom.

But…I can’t have her.

Hence my long walk trying to sort my shit out and be ok with myself and the world and to find a little peace in nature and this rural life I lead.

Take care of yourselves, y’all. Virtual hugs to you. I hope you’re all at least ok, if not more than ok. I hope you’re well and happy and finding peace wherever and whenever you can.

Channeling My Mom

Seven years ago I ran my first half marathon. It was 12 days before my 40th birthday. I called it Holly’s Half and ran near my home. My husband and then 6-year-old son were my “water boys.” It was really hot for an early June day and my goal was just to finish, preferably under 3 hours. I beat my goal by 3 minutes. It was really difficult and I was completely done by the end and was useless the rest of the day. But I was damn proud of myself.

The last time I truly trained for a half was 5 years ago. I even got up to 12 miles on the treadmill. I didn’t want to run the whole 13.1 on the treadmill because I wanted to do it outside the following week. But a few days later I had pancreatitis and ended up in the hospital.

This spring I decided it was time to try again. Seven years have past, 25 pounds have been gained, 1 brother and 2 parents have died, 1 broken arm, 1 dog bite, husband nearly died, various scrapes and bruises have been formed, and 1 pandemic still coping with. Yet I also got a new job, watched my son grow (and grow and grow!) into a person I’m proud to know and love, read a few thousand books, and most importantly? I gave and received so much love that it’s impossible to measure.

I think I wanted to train for a half marathon again because I needed something to reach for and challenge me. And honestly? I also wanted to lose those 25 pounds but have only lost 12 so far. Oh well!

My goal is to run a half on my mother’s birthday–September 20th. She would have been 74. I wanted to do something for myself but thinking of her and channeling her amazing strength and bad-assery.

Today’s run was supposed to be around 10 miles with a few speed intervals in the middle. I have not run more than a mile since my fiasco on the treadmill last week (I fell off at mile 8 and majorly bruised and scraped my legs and arms and took chunks out of my right hand), so I figured I’d do my best but told my husband he may get a call in an hour to come pick me up. 🙂

I set out with my tunes and water bottle and just trotted for a while. My shin ached at the beginning, but it felt good to move my body. The weather was perfect–breezy, mostly cloudy, in the 60s–a touch of fall in the air. At mile 3, I saw a blue heron. My very first sighting! That completely buoyed my spirits even more. So I ran on and on and turned around at mile five on a road that I had not run on before but look forward to going back to. It was serene and lovely with very few houses.

I took a few walking breaks and as I got closer to my home, I thought about my doctor’s visit this week. He gave the ok to run and I told him I recently ran 10 miles. He said, “Oh! Then you got this! Just 3 more and you’re done.” Then I remembered the pancreatitis and a few times in my life when I didn’t say what I wanted to or did not do what I wanted, all because I planned to say or do them later. Yet that “later” never came. I thought of my mom and the pain she worked through and kept going day after day because that’s who she was.

When I turned onto my road my husband was in my car with a water bottle because he was worried. I gasped out, “Gatorade. I’m gonna keep going.” He raced back to our house and was at our mailbox with Gatorade as I passed. I thanked him, drank, walked for a minute and kept running.

This is me today, just after I finished my second half marathon.

My 11th and 12th miles were pretty slow, both over 13 minutes, but most of the others were pretty decent, and I finished in 2 hours and 33 minutes. The Map My Run app wants me to finish about 15 minutes sooner, and maybe I will if I try this again in 3 weeks. Or maybe I’ll say “no thanks” and be happy I could do it today. Either way, I am once again really damn proud of myself. And I am not nearly as tired as the last time I ran a half! I did laundry today, cleaned the shower, vacuumed, and baked bread. I feel pretty darn good.

That’s my poor bruised leg, my kitty Miso licking my forehead, and my step count. I’ve never seen my steps over 20,000 before!

I expect the upcoming work and school week to be a tough one in our household, but I’m hoping that today will keep me “running high” for a few more days and give me a positive perspective on life, at least for this week. 😉

Take care of yourselves, y’all. One day at a time.

Have you lost it?

Nearly everyone I know has slowly been breaking apart for the past five months. We’re extremely lonely or depressed or scared or frustrated or all of the above. And we’re the lucky ones.

I’ve had several “breaking points” over the past 5 months, but this week I just seem to have broken off a few pieces of myself and have no idea where to look for them. The overall morale of my staff, my colleagues, my friends and my family is bleak at best. I’ve said before how helpless I feel because there seems to be so little I can do for them, but I’ve come to the point where I feel just as helpless and hopeless as they do. I have many good moments, and that’s what they are–moments. Seconds. Tiny tidbits of light and goodness and laughter. And honestly that’s what I try to show everyone. Those smiling pics on social media? I am typically really that happy in that moment. It’s the next minute you don’t want to see. Or the next hour. Might want to wait until the next day.

The past few days have been seesaw days, up and down, light and dark. But my frustration level with my work has been off the charts. I’m so sick of cleaning surfaces and quarantining items and for a few hours I thought some of that would be lessened. But of course there is so little consistency in the library world when it comes to procedures that my little light of hope was dashed and I might have had a mini meltdown in a Zoom meeting filled with Maine librarians. My exhaustion and frustration bubbled over. Me being the “good girl” I am, I apologized and I really didn’t want to offend anyone, but for fuck’s sake! Can we get on the same goddamned page for just once?!? (no pun intended)

*sigh* There. Thanks. I needed that.

And, of course, the school plans are out. The school my son attends will have hybrid learning like many schools in Maine, which includes going to school for 2 half days and remote learning the rest of the week. Just a remote option is not currently available, but I did let them know I’d like that if it ever becomes an option.

Have I been judged by some parents for not homeschooling (or wanting to homeschool) my child? Yup. Am I mad as hell about it? Yup.

If you have the money or opportunity to homeschool your child, kudos for you. I’m happy for you. Really. If others are choosing to send their child to school OR if others have to send their child to school because they work outside the home and their child has already been home THE ENTIRE SUMMER without any contact with other kids except the occasional Discord or video game chat, then let them be, Judge Judy. As my lovely friend said to me this morning, “They can go fuck themselves.”

If you think any decision is simple or easy when it comes to my kid, you’re damn wrong. Don’t you think I’ve thought about all the consequences for both my son and my husband? What about the fact that I work in a public building and see 50 people every day? Don’t you think I’ve thought about THAT?

*insert deep breath here*

The thing is…I’m tired. I’m tired of being afraid, I’m tired of feeling like my head will explode from all the information and plans that change from week to week, I’m tired of wanting to feel numb so I can’t feel all of my feelings.

I know I’m preaching to the choir. I know many of you feel and think all of the same things I do. So what do we do about it? Hell if I know. I’ve done all the shit people tell you to do–exercise, eat well, laugh, talk with friends, etc. I also take an anti-depressant, rage at the universe, and occasionally drink until my brain quiets down.

Since we’re all in this together (which, by the way, I am so damn sick of that phrase), what do YOU do to not go completely insane or sad? Or if you’re already at that point, do you have any thoughts of how to climb out of that hole you’re in? Do you need a hand? I have really long arms, orangutan-length in fact, so just let me know.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the sky near my house tonight. There were dragonflies in the air, too, but you can’t see them so just imagine the magic.

Lightweight

It’s Wednesday night, yet it feels like it should be Friday night. It’s been a horrendously long and stressful few days, and apparently I’m not the only one feeling it. Maybe because of the full moon on Monday? Maybe because we’re waiting to find out what our children’s school days will look like? Who the hell knows? We’re all just damn tired and stressed and so fucking sick of being tired and stressed. Right?!?

Yet, I know I have it good. I have a job, as does my husband. We’re still relatively healthy. My kid is happy some days. This is about all we can hope for right now. But for whatever reason, as soon as I got home tonight, I started searching for the wine. Then I remembered I had all the fixings for a margarita.

My husband was kind enough to cook dinner, so I made my drink and headed out to my porch. Our boy was watching videos about the Declaration of Independence (seriously, this kid is freakin’ awesome), so he was ok not spending any time with me. I sat down on my porch in the warm air but with the loveliest of breezes, opened a magazine and took a few sips. After a bit, I listened to a podcast (Fake Doctors, Real Friends), sipped my margarita some more and put my feet up on the railing. I have not been that relaxed in such a long, long time. My husband came out after a bit to say dinner was ready, but I wasn’t ready to go inside. More time passed and he came back out, but I told him there was no way I was going to stand up (not sure I could) and I intended to stay out there for as long as possible. The good man brought me a bowl of food after that.

My son came out a few minutes later and we chatted and laughed and talked about the upcoming school year, but then with our morbid humor discussed hazmat suits and gas masks because that’s where we’re at. My husband joined us and we laughed and chatted some more while relishing the warm summer evening. We really had a wonderful time, just being together at our home enjoying one another.

Of course then I had to get up so I could go pee and the moment was broken.

Yet afterwards I felt energized. I did the dishes, made my lunches for the next few days, did a load of laundry and took a bath. I finally found that bit of motivation that I’ve been lacking. I even shaved my legs! I think I just needed those few hours to find a way to relax and forget but also spend quality time with my family. It was literally less than 30 minutes, but it was exactly the amount we all needed to become reconnected to one another. It was our version of perfect.

I’m not saying you should drink every night to ease your stress. I, the daughter of a recovering alcoholic, would never say that. It might be ok with you and if it is, then go for it. But both my conscience and my pancreas say it’s not good for me. Plus the level of relaxation I had tonight is not typical for me. I had to let everything else go and not think about work or relationships or the world or even myself. I just had to breathe, read a bit, and listen to others. I had to lose myself for just a little while. And if you can find a way to do that with yoga or meditation, then do it. Hell, if you need a drink or a smoke to relax and let go occasionally, that’s ok too.

We all need to lose ourselves sometimes so we can find our way back again.

Hang in there, friends. I’m thinking of you.

How Can I Help You?

If you run or walk outside a lot in rural areas, you know there’s danger–people not seeing you or purposely trying to hit you with their cars, biting dogs, bears, you get the idea. I’ve had the misfortune to face all of those things. But tonight, as I took a pre-dinner walk to clear my head, I saw a truck pull over on the side of the road up ahead of me. First thought? This guy is going to try and hurt me. But I’ve got my phone, I’m not far from home and I can run. Then I hear a car coming up behind me on the other side and realize this guy is being incredibly courteous and kind. Once the car passes, the truck pulls back on the road and the driver gives me a big smile and wave. I yell, “Thank you!” because seriously, that shit never happens.

I continue my walk and can feel my eyes prickle with tears because I just want to sit down and cry all because of this kind gesture by a neighbor. But why is that? I don’t think people have been horrible to me lately, although there’s certainly judgments thrown around constantly and many by me. When I’m out with a mask, some people look at me oddly or with that frown. If I see you without a mask I know I look at you with that same frown. And it’s all just exhausting, isn’t it? I never thought of myself as being so judgmental before (although maybe I was?), but now I’m just….I’m really awful.

I’ve always had anger issues, but no one knew about them because I ate that anger. Just in the past decade have I been able to scream my anger out or sometimes run it out and occasionally breathe it out. I can (mostly) deal with it. But now? I feel so much anger and disgust and sometimes hatred towards people I never felt anything at all for before. Why do I care? Is it because their actions can hurt me or my family or my friends? Or maybe because they already have?

I read many of my friends’ social media posts and I feel so fucking helpless. I don’t know how to help them. Many of my friends are teachers and when I read how scared and frustrated they are, I just want to hug them and tell them this will work itself out and be ok, but I can’t. I physically am not allowed or able to hug any of them and this will definitely not work itself out. This will not “just go away” any time soon. Especially since no one can talk to one another if they have differing opinions on how to solve this mess. (Although it would be nice if we could all agree that facts are FACTS and not opinions.)

My friends who are parents, especially with little ones, are struggling just as much with all of this. Their posts and shared articles are just as fucking heartbreaking. I hear my friends that have adult children say how grateful they are to not have to deal with the education piece or having to stay at home and care for their child because they just don’t know how they could do it and still work.

Exactly.

How do you do it? Friends have cut their work hours, some have upped their anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds or have finally begun taking them. Some are drinking more, eating more, crying more. (And I’ve done a little bit of all of these things as well as let my kid spend way too many hours in front of a computer.)

So what the hell are we going to do?

I don’t know. I wish I had some amazing piece of wisdom right here, but I don’t. I have sent wine to a few friends, cards to others, and messages or emails to some. If you own a business and want me to buy something, I’ll do my best to do that to help you keep afloat. If you need any of my librarian skills like pointing you in the right direction for forms you need to fill out or reading material to help you relax or what movie will help you cry then I can do that, too. But mostly I just listen. I don’t know what else I can do, but listen to you and truly hear you. I will respond if you want me to, or just nod my head in agreement and virtually hug you.

I do hope that some day, when the world is different but maybe feels a bit safer, I still like the person I’ve become. Right now I’m not so sure. I think at this moment I’m too selfish, self-centered and judgmental to really like who I am. Or maybe that’s the person I’ve become due to all the losses in my life. Either way, this pandemic has become a pivotal moment in our lives and it would be impossible to not be affected by it. I just hope that when all is said and done, I and you, too, will not have regrets about our words and actions towards others, and that we’ll be ok.

Let’s just be ok.