Thursday, March 31, 2022

Hello? It's Me

Hello. There has been a long string of unfortunate events, for me, for friends, for acquaintances, for distant relations, and total strangers. I feel them keenly. My thoughts and heart are preoccupied with our collective trauma, with world events, and the long lasting effects of all of the stuff we have faced, endured, witness, suppressed... it's been too much. I worry about us, you, and me, and the total strangers. I am concerned about the pandemic of depression, the ache of pushing through one crisis after another, and so little relief. It's never felt like this before, not on this scale, not in my experience. I have had practical strangers pour their hearts out to me, desperate for relief, caring, sympathy, healing? Even that televised slap (if you don't know, just be glad) felt like a metric of distress, of mental collapse and broken communication. So much hurt, exhaustion, strain, and our reactions can be be misplaced, displaced, to retreat, or surrender. I have retreated, for better or worse. It was partly a pity party, I'll admit. And maybe that's just as well. Maybe it's better to sit with my thoughts and feelings, rather than blurt it all, or come out fighting. Anyway, I was enjoying blogging regularly, feeling like, if nothing else, at least I had a tidy and up to date blog. I recognize that writing helps me sort the tangles and details of living, even distills the hard bits, so I can see clearly all of the good, the beauty, the successes. When too much sad and stressful, disappointing things overwhelmed me, I couldn't take thinking about it, let alone trying to put it into print.
Someone reached out to me, offered a virtual hug, and a reason to smile. And it made a tremendous difference. Little is solved, as far as the things that I have been grappling with, or concerned about, for my friends, for those strangers, but I went through about two weeks of snapshots on my phone, and happily, there is plenty of evidence that I have seen beauty, and good, and successes, and I want to put a pin in it... hold it down, and come back here to remind myself, to appreciate the progress, the smiles, the sweet. Sweet, like our kitties, napping together, and the view from that bathroom window. The window, on that day was a source of intrigue as heavy machinery has been grading the, now, empty lot, and they took a way a ginormous palm tree. I am sorry for the birds, but the process was riveting. Amelia, thank you for befriending me.
Bambi and Alex, taking steps toward matrimony. They are firm about keeping things small, intimate, and I respect that... but I can't help taking pictures! I love what I see... two dear people who have the gift of bringing out the best in each other.
Even when I get too blue to blog, I can't give up Instagram. I love taking pictures, and the convience of having them all in order, with notes and details, is irresistible. I have been trying to keep up with some of William's projects, recording and sharing them, including the paper moon, the cart... more, lots more. William has been a gentle hand on my shoulder, equally nudging me forward, and supporting me. He helps me get a lot of things accomplished.
Maria, and Max, too... diligent and hardworking, making so many strides in their pursuits. Maria attended the FIRST Robotics Competition in San Diego, and enjoyed both robots, and seeing the team recognized for some personally gratifying achievements, plus we saw many dear friends. I will post about these moments, soon. Max is pushing through the long crunch season, like Geoff. The company's annual drive to complete a new game is more intense than ever, and it's not an easy introduction to "9 to 5." When Max clocks out, he is more than ready to game, read, write, walk, and converse with his siblings. He's ready for the break that is coming soon. We all are!
We are popping out... I still wear a mask. I figure, as long as Maria has 'exposure to COVID' notices from school, and has to test, I will wear a mask in public. Other than worries about getting sick, the outings are helpful, even if still a bit strange, tiring. It was always a concern of mine that any time spent isolating, in lockdown, would be too convenient for me, too easy, because of the car crash PTSD, all I ever wanted was an excuse to stay home, away from crowds, noise, busy corners, and taxing stimulus. Now I find it harder than ever to be in a car, or crowd, to navigate things and activities all around me. And about the crowds... our town is a favorite of tourists, but has always quieted down in the fall, until summer holidays, but not since COVID. I guess people are seeking out the beaches, restaurants, trails, and sights, more than ever, and we have been quite astonished at the year-round hustle and bustle, even at the local market, the places where things used to be winter-mellow. A week-day hot chocolate, a stroll around garden centers, the corner table at the taco place we all love, these are nice. And maybe, soon, we can bring back our Picnic Days. I do miss those.
Small wheels that pivot... the cart is looking better and better. I am glad Geoff enjoys his projects, and helping with other people's projects, and I am glad he can still work from home, so he can step away from the desk, stretch, and clear his head for a moment with other things besides, graphs, and code, and new platforms.

Bambi, Alex, Tori, Armand, Max, Maria, Lucas. I like this last picture when they obliged me a group photo, and some of them have the "how many pictures is she going to take?" expressions.

Every Saturday... Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons & Friends & Laughter & plans, engagement, support. This time Tori had some special treats to celebrate the groom, and the bride, and friends, and dragons. Tori's cupcakes were both delicious and beautiful.

Maria is sticking with her love of school, with following her curiousity and love of learning. No signs of "senioritus," thus far. She was so glad, thankful to get a chance at the screen-printing, to go to the Regional event for robotics, to read The Poisonwood Bible, and now The Grapes of Wrath. Math is going well, so is English, and government and economics. She is thinking of going to prom, maybe even grad-night. I am pretty sure all of these things are going to be upon us in, seemingly, no time, and then it will be graduation time. Twelve years ago, Maria showed an interest in embroidery. I set her up with a hoop, needle and floss, and she caught on readily enough. But it didn't hold her interest for much longer than it took to stitch that one flower. My own experience with sewing was similar. I dabbled as a girl, but never got proficient, never stuck with it. But the skills sort of stuck with me. I have found that all of the lessons and passing interest in things have come back in later years, and have helped launch renewed interest, and the patience to improve and enjoy... crochet, embroidery, quilting, handsewing and mending, even making clothes. I am glad she tried embroidery, and I was even more glad that I didn't press her or force it. On her own, in the Fashion Design class, she's picked it up, again, and I love what she's making!

I've seen a meme, or quote, something, going around Instagram... an audio clip plays, of someone telling us that we don't have to perfect our hobbies, that there's no rule that says we must become experts to enjoy our pastimes. It's brilliant, I think. I have wasted too much time concerned about how good I can be at something before I am worthy of it, before I can say I enjoy it, or can share it, or claim any ability, or attachment. I used to hold too much favor for the idea of natural talent, and I would give up or feel embarrassed for things I wasn't good at. For certain, I am ready to celebrate anyone else's amateur status, their effort and enthusiasm matters more than the results, for me. Now, I am increasingly eager to give myself the same grace. I play ukulele. I play infrequently, and badly, but when I play, it makes me happy. I bake, occasionally and I have made some delicious cakes, and some really ugly ones, but I like doing it. I have ridden my bicycle 4,540 miles... not in a jersey, or with special shoes, never in a race, or on a course, but happily, and surprisingly regularly. I like to think that if we all just dabble, and play, try new things, whether we are fair-to-middling, or even kind of awful, but happy, amused, engaged, and if we encourage each other in play, expression, in exploring... it might help, it might bring some of the relief, caring, healing, that so many of us are seeking.

Bird House Notes: Days are hard, harder, and harder, and even as I consider this truth, I am chagrined... because, you know: War, famine, violence, poverty, heartache, all the things people are enduring, and suffering, so that I feel positively ridiculous thinking I have hardships. But I do, and so does just about everyone I hear from, talk to, observe. And at some level, I am feeling their anguish, too. Even our cats'! Out of, seemingly, nowhere, they are in a three way turf war, psychologically in an utterly confounding conflict. Sakamoto is terrified and hides. Cairo is confused, cowering, and tormented by Feynman, who stands guard near Sakamoto, and will growl and attack Cairo. Uhhh... sigh. Was I going to delve into cat drama? What I want to do is to express my compassion, my deep concern for everyone that is struggling, and my awe and respect for everyone that is doing the essentials, attending to anything, small or great. Did you move your laundry around, order a pizza, mail a letter, sit with a friend? Applause! I feel like I could redefine "disfunctional." I am operating in a paradoxically high functioning realm of disfunction. Somehow, I move forward, even as I feel I have reached what surely must be bottom, or the end of a rope. Not my rope. Some rope. My rope snapped a long way back. I was aiming for encouraging... I am thinking of you, and you, and hoping that you are finding respites, support, motivation, a good plumber, or whatever helps. March 30, 2022


Little Dorrit does... said...

Hello! What a lovely post - full of soul-nurturing moments and memories. I'm glad you sifted back through them, and glad I acted on the impulse to get in touch, even if things did spiral slightly out of control towards the end of the episode, with the accidental Instagram video call! Who knew there even was such a thing?! I lay in bed afterwards thinking it was like a scene from a sitcom where someone is trying to leave flowers and a card outside a door and tiptoe quietly away, but the door swings open and they end up sprawled across the hallway floor, knocking over a coat-stand in the process! Thank you for being so kind and understanding when it happened!
Nowadays I often find myself saying/thinking "I've never known the world to be such a scary place as it is now" - feeling almost punch-drunk from the one-thing-after-another-ness of it all. I must admit my response is to retreat too. I still wear a mask when we do the weekly shop, and unless a friend winkles me out of my shell for a walk or an occasional coffee in a cafe I avoid enclosed public spaces most of the time - and I'm not dealing with PTSD on top of everything else. I think we all have to go at our own pace, take things one day at a time, keep moving. Time out for self care is not self pity!
I love that idea that you don't have to be the best at something to do it and enjoy it. I've started to think of myself as a recovering perfectionist, and it's very liberating!

Nicole said...

I love that quote about just enjoying our pastimes, not needing to be an expert. It is how I feel too!

I am so sorry you are having a hard time with sadness and stress. Sending love. xo

Ruth said...

It's hard to comment, there's so much here. Beautiful pictures of Bambi and Alex, cupcakes, kitties, family and friends. Had trouble finding words to comment on your Chirp Chirp notes. To keep things on a lighter note, here's my take on all of our cats' strange behavior lately. It's been suggested (by Holly) that maybe it's due to the arrival of Spring, and new little animals running around, and new smells in the air. We humans have stuff making us a little sad and crazy right now, so why not our fellow mammals? Good people everywhere seem to be searching for a moral and spiritual reawakening. I don't think the cats care too much.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Good morning, Amelia!
Yes, a comedy of errors, is how I feel when managing the new fangled things, like video chatting, and face filters, and well, anything where there's a chance of pushing the wrong button! And thank goodness we know comedy when we see it, and can have a good laugh at ourselves. Like I said, on the rare occasion that someone initiates a video call, my first impulse is to throw my phone under a pillow, close my eyes, and pretend I'm not home. When your call came through, I threw caution to wind and answered! But my brain was racing... did I shower, anything in my teeth, I am dressed, good, I look old and tired, and why is this corner of the house particularly dusty?? It's absurd that these apps confront you with your own face staring back at you! That's enough of a jolt to make me want to hit "END."
I am saying "cheers" to our liberating ourselves! We can try new things, and go at our own paces, we can forget about "perfect." Ah, thank you for the laughs, and connection.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Nicole, thank you! Have you seen those videos, too? They seem to be trending on Instagram, and I think it's solid advice... now, to remember to apply it to myself, too. And thank you for your kindness and consideration. I should add... your posts have penetrated my thoughts and actions, seeing you practice yoga, and so I have been ending my day with weights and stretching activities I learned in physical therapy. Small steps toward small habits, and I silence the critic in my head, which could be the most vital part.

Sarah said...

It seems difficult these days to get up when there always seems to be the next tragedy or challenge around the corner. But I think you have the right approach here, focusing on the joy in your life, and forever the flowers! I also love your comments about hobbies. I think the perfect styling of social media has contributed to this, but the truth is that for most people, a hobby is just a way to peacefully and joyfully pass the time. We shouldn't be ashamed of that! So play on!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I crammed a lot in, I know. I am glad you are commenting, Ruth. I love that I can share some glimpses with you of Bird House life, your grandchildren, some of the things going on. And I love that you have come by, too, and shared in some of those steps toward the *big day!*
So have your kitties been acting strangely? We are in the third day of Feynman being angry, hissing and growling at Cairo. Cairo looks dumbfounded, and Sakamoto bolts from the conflict, to hide behind the sofa. In our entire cat keeping lives, we have never seen behavior like this. But, yeah... we can say that about so many things these days, so why not our fur babies... Whatever is in the air, or water, we are ready for it to blow through!