Saturday, August 28, 2021

Alive, Connected, and Joyful

"Noticing, collecting, cherishing the happy moments where you feel alive and connected and joyful helps," Little Dorrit does reminded me, and I share her belief, including that it's helpful, as well, to acknowledge the struggles, to be kind with ourselves. It really is always a balancing act, isn't it? I won't pretend that happy thoughts and glitter are going to make everything all better, but I feel fortunate to have figured out that sometimes small pleasures, and gratitude can carry us through hard times, through doubts and fears. As well, it is ok to be sad. It is ok to not understand, to feel disappointed. I am safe, I can assure myself, and even if I have changed, or this is a hard time, I am alive, and I can make connections, and notice the joyful moments... those are real gifts.
Holly and Rich hosted a backyard cookout so we could finally celebrate Ruth's birthday. There's plenty of room to spread out, and be mindful of masks. (Like last year, and we still do this. We are still concerned.) It was a happy celebration and get together. The weather cooperated... I can't believe we've had this much rain in August! Anakin cat was the center of attention, after Tutu, of course. Maria is back in school, and cousin Izzie is about to jump back in, too. These young women are enduring strange times, and we feel tremendous care for them. Family time, laughter, reminiscing, and engaging... we can all use more of this healing, uplifting connection.
When was the last time I said "It's never boring"? I think I said that, sincerely, many times last year. And I would try to think of novel things to say about what's going on, and that wasn't easy. We stick to some pretty basic routines, but it's never boring! A really nasty cold worked its way through all, but me and Geoff. The young folks, except William, still play Dungeons and Dragons every week. That has been going on for a long while, and I am glad it was in place and appreciated before anyone knew of lockdowns and pandemics. The outlet and connections they enjoy through this game is priceless. Max joined the campaign, too. And that is probabaly even more fun for him, as he gets a change of scenery after his interning work. William is running, and helping us develop plans... have I mentioned? We have long planned to expand the workshop, and hopefully add a bedroom. We are in the beginning stages of this, and William's groundwork in expertly modeling the exisiting house, and being able to render ideas and concepts, has been brilliant. It's never boring... in fact, it's almost always pleasant, and interesting. I don't mind being home. I love it here, with these young folks, and my love.
We are still enjoying the many teas Bambi bought that were from a series of Dungeons and Dragons themed varieties. And we rank them. Bambi brews new flavors, one daily, and we discuss what we like, or don't, about the look, the smell, the taste. We decide if one is better sweetened, or if it pairs well with... a blueberry muffin, banana bread? Sometimes a tea is chosen by the roll of a die. And all of the teas and our ratings and impressions get recorded into the Moon book.
It might be time to start a seperate blog, or IG hashtag... #MariaFashions. She has such a fun sense of style. Classes are going well, I am happy to say. It's still only August, and she is still only 16, but I fluster a bit thinking of how quickly things are moving, and it brings to mind, over and over, again, how much I love her, what a joy she is, for all of us. It's no secret, I am not disappointed that she hopes to go to a nearby school, after graduating.
What can be a more darling example of life, connection and joy than our pets, especially these kitties... they patter in on soft paws and fill up spaces, our chairs, our laps, and feet. I love that we have cats.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

On the Other Hand...

We did a thing! I look at these pictures, and remember this outing, and it's wonderful. Geoff and I, rather spontaneously, left the house, drove an hour and a half, and by the way it rained and was gray and wonderful the whole drive up, and back, yet blue skied and comfortable at the destination, and this sentence is more winding than the road to Julian... Anyways! We hiked around, and inhaled fresh air, with fresh views, and had long talks about ideas, hopes, plans, hopeful plans. We didn't get apple pie, or shop. Oh. Wait. I take that back. I did pop into a favorite spot in Santa Isabel, but it's not the shop it used to be, and what I found was a lovely hardware store, with a friendly proprietor, and I bought two dollars worth of Smarties and a bat box. Oh crud. I think I left the Smarties in the pocket of my dress. The dress went in the washer last night. You guys, I am pretty sure I have ADHD. I'm not kidding. I am not diagnosed, but I have curated a pretty strong therapist community on Instragram, and the evidence is compelling.

New paragraph?

I love Julian, and oak trees, and rolling hills. For the first time, it occurs to me that I hold a lot of store and space in my head and heart for a place that I fixate on as kind of a home-place, a bedrock of my childhood, when actually we visited only a handful of times, lived nearby for only a few years. I've gone back, again and again, since forever, but... the connection and sentiment is based largely on brief, yet highly treasured moments. I guess it's that those were formative moments, occasions, so that even though they were small in time, they made big, dear impressions. And so, when we visit, I love that the smell of hot, dry scrub mingles with pine, and I feel at home. I love seeing familiar turns in the road, the green house with the red roof, the manzanita in beds of crisp oak leaves. Acorns. Schist. I feel possesive, protective of the intangible ways red cabins, and old store fronts, buckwheat blossoms, and white sage, recall happiness, well being, belonging. And all because I have some memories, some anecdotes... we drive through, and some part of me feels like a founder, a co-owner. Not boastfully, not with thoughts of dominating... but as a kind of idea about being connected, being one thread in a narrative. Do you ever think of a feeling you have that has sort of evolved into an unpsoken belief? I've never put this into words, but there is a feeling I get, in Ramona, Julian, along the back country roads, that there is a picture, some evidence of me being there, in the Pioneers' Day Parade, walking into the 5 & Dime, or scrambling up boulders across creekbeds, and someone recognizes me, Handsome Eddie, or the girl that lived down the street and rode her horse, Stony, to our house, maybe serene Eileen, maybe Cece who could make a perfect pig squeal, had long smooth hair, looked like she could have been in the Coca Cola ad, where they sing... one of them could claim me, declare She belongs here, she is familiar. I can tell you something about her. Not in so many words, but just a feeling. Not everything has to make sense, I suppose.

So. Being there, with Geoff, the ride, the hike, the talks... it was lovely, and one of those occasions that will stand out, because it was happy, because my senses were awakened, and we laughed. All of which makes me feel chagrinned (embarrassed, distressed) over my increasingly frequent bouts of anxiety, and depression. I think it's depression stemming from anxiety. I think overthinking, explaining, rationalizing and feeling apologetic are also tightly woven into the situation. I wouldn't be writing about this, except yesterday I was so low, I didn't resist stating it matter of factly: I think I am Depressed. And it actually gave me a detectable moment of relief. The elephant in the room has been labled, folks.
This. This... and I wish I could add a graphic: An arrow, emphatically pointing at this statement. I am ignoring people. But not. It's like being a sponge that is sitting in water, and I am saturated in water, so that no matter how much more water is poured on me, it's not like I can do anything to absorb more. In this scenario emails, phone calls, texts, social invitations, plans, destinations... all incoming communication is like water, and I can't seem to take on any more. It all comes at me, and it's not registering, I am not registering. It's a problem. I see all of my "problems" and I am out of bandwidth, out of sense for how to make things fixed, better, managed. Wow. This is a lot. I am unsettled by the idea that someone will make suggestions to me, or imagining particular people silently judging me. So why over-share? I think it's because it helps me... I feel it, again, that little bit of relief, because saying it aloud proves to me that I am struggling, but not broken, grappling yet not willing to surrender, nor impose (more) shame on myself. I don't think I am alone... maybe, someone else will see something familiar here, and feel some relief, too. Maybe I am standing in some kind of small yet courageous stance, and yelling in my small voice, "Yeah! I am not having a good time here! And I don't know what to do! But. I will begin with some truth!" I can write these things down, and hit publish, and maybe it's like a spell, an encantation, or like burning a sacrifice, something symbolic or ceremonial, and I find I am still here, not turned to dust. I don't know why it helps, a little, but I need a little help.
This morning, when I had an email to write... I loaded the dryer (probably with my dissolved Smarties), cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the cat boxes, fed Maria, and did an hour of pilates (just kidding), and was open to more, just to put off writing the email. By the way, I did finally write and send the email, but I was sure to be petulant, salty, and bad tempered about it. Come to think of it, that could be an improvement over ghosting the recipient. I should clarify, because over explaining, being apologetic and rationalizing are some of my core skills: I wasn't bad tempered in the email, to the recipient, but with myself and anyone standing within three feet of me, but only because of proximity, not as a directed attitude. (That sentence might possibly make no sense. Email me, if you would like a lengthy attempt for me to clarify. But, also, I might not get back to you, and it's not personal. I've just been out of sorts, and avoidance seems to be a default for me under some circumstances, which are ill-defined.)
On the other hand... the new cupboard? The pretty set up, where I put our coffee maker, and hot water kettle? It still looks pretty. It still makes me feel like I have arrived at a cafe, with high Instagram worthy qualities, and excellent marks on Yelps. Making tea here, walking into the kitchen and remembering that this is nice, it's good. And I looked up "Cooridnated Palettes" for our exterior house paint, and found that by sheer chance our barn is coordinated, which is hecking brilliant, and I love this green, Pine Brook and how it looks with Arrowhead Lake, so maybe we will get to do something nice with that.
Ok. I have this sensation like something awkward happened (which, I am aware I created) and someone needs to say something, something to break the tension, to distract from the elephant in the room, the unexpected breaking of wind... can we just pretend this didn't happen?? Let's talk about demolition. We really need to get our broken swimming pool out of the ground and off the property, so I am looking for a demolition company. I have criteria... I want to pay as little as possible for a capable crew. It's not a fancy job. We don't need a fancy company. Now, I am going to check on the laundry, probably clear out Smarties wrappers.