perspective

One Stormy Night

A rumbling sound. A light flicker. I was awake. A loud thunder. More light flashes. All seemed to get quiet but I was already startled and stirred.

I lay idle. More flashes. Flickers of lights across the back windows. One side window. The other side window. Then all on the back windows lighting up like a Christmas light show.

Rumbles that shake the house. More thunder. Now I’m wide awake. The sound of rain is constant. Now I hear the clock ticking. I hear sirens in the distance. I wonder what has happened at this wee hour.

The thunder shifts to the distance but the length of rumbling thunder and loud booms within are ever so disturbing. The sound is just blah on many levels. It’s kept me awake far too long.

I try to fall asleep but the distant flickers and thunder are preventing a full restful state. Oh how I need my sleep to rejuvenate. I wonder how many others were bothered by the storm?

As an irony, the storm is not the worst I have endured in life yet it’s doing a good job keeping me awake.

Maybe life is shaking me in other ways and the storm is just how I’m relating to life’s stormy days.
Thoughts in the dark to ponder.

friendship, mental health

I Heard the Whisper

I don’t have any friends.

Silence.

I don’t have any friends said the social teen girl. Pause. Reflect. Think.

The beautiful girl is right. She has acquaintances. She has teammates. She has adults that are supportive. She has siblings. Unfortunately she is missing the friends piece of the equation. True friends.

The bestie or group of pals that come over to hang out. The girls that go to the movies. The inner circle of sorts. What could have happened to this social butterfly.

One word sums it up: corona.

Corona has taken away spontaneous trips to the mall. Quarantine has limited gatherings at other homes. Fear has lurked in every home limiting activities. The list goes on and on.

In this community two teens have died by suicide in the last 10 days. I can’t ignore that. I can’t understand a day in the life of these teens. Their desire to end their lives is the solution to their perceived problems at that time. We have to listen to these cries even if they are masked.

So many no you can’t. So much time alone. So many milestones and memories being missed in isolation. So much time is solitude in their room. Many sleep it off. Many struggle for daily motivation.

Who does the cheerleader role fall on when parents work? What if the teen is an only child? Is the school talking about this subject with this vulnerable age?  Are they offering parents solutions? Why no they are talking about tests scores and must complete your assignments or even pick your schedule for next year.

Do administrators even consider what a day in the life of a teen is like in isolation? They lost their friends. They lost their home away from home that is school. They lost competition in the classroom. The lost giggles in the hallway. They even lost their imagery. Always covered in a mask. Gasping for air. The image of themselves in a super cute outfit on the first day of school. Shopping for a prom dress. So many important things for a girl in her formative years.

Instead they get to go to the drive thru with their parents. Maybe a Netflix movie in the same place they eat, sleep, socialize, go to school, etc. (their house). Maybe weekends of extra homework because they lack the motivation to do it on day 1 when it was due. The list of blah goes on and on.

I see this cycle repeated. I try to engage my teen to give her fulfillment in the tiny box that is currently around her. It’s by no means perfect but it’s what I can offer today.

I often wonder if she drove and had a car if it would be different. Would being mobile allow her to wave at friends from the curb but allow her time to smile away from the homestead. I don’t have these answers. I may never have them.

For today I will enjoy the time I have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Memories last forever. Today I will make memories with her.

Parents don’t forget to look around you. Right in front of you. Listen. Spot the abnormalities and take action. Any action that lets them notice you see them. You hear them. You want to be with them. They need you. They don’t always feel like they have anyone left. Corona has taken much from many.

Don’t let environmental conditions take away another bright future.

This post was sparked by the song Pink just released with her daughter Willow, Cover Me in Sunshine. Pink noted they sang the song because it makes them happy and they wanted to share it to make others happy. They did it together. Today I will cover those around me in sunshine for no other reason than to make them happy.

Enjoy today. No matter how shitty things may be tomorrow. Every day is a new day to get covered in sunshine.

balance

My Control Panel

In a challenge right now with a fitness group, we were tasked with thinking daily about what in our lives we can and cannot control. We had to write it down and repeat it to ourselves each day several times. To some this might seem silly, but especially in this time of flux and frustration, I found it useful. Here are some of the things I wrote down this week.

What I cannot control:

-My other family members’ schedules

-Other people’s priorities

-How other people interpret and respond to my choices

-How other people see me

-Many details about my work day – where I work, how I allocate my time, how many meetings I have to attend

-Traffic

-How fast the postal service delivers packages

-The coronavirus pandemic – its length, severity, and impact on people I care about and the world at large

-How others respond to the pandemic…their movements, opinions, responses, precautions (or lack of)

-Whether or not my daughter will have a lacrosse season

-The weather

-Other people’s level of stress and its’ impact on their actions, attitudes, etc.

The list goes on…and I realize I spend a LOT of time spinning my mental and spiritual wheels on the list above. NOTHING I CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT. AT. ALL.

Here’s what I can control.

-My actions

-My choices

-Where I put my energy – writing, reading, recreation, learning, exercise, rest

-Where I direct my attention

-My movement

-What I consume – food, media, etc.

-My hydration

-My attitude toward challenges

Really, it’s a small list, but it’s what I need to focus on. You notice that most of what I can’t control involves other people and most of what I can involves me. When I find myself fretting about the world and all its ups and downs, I remember what I can control and then try to DO something related to these lists.

It seems like a goofy task to say these things several times a day, but I learned that my anxiousness lessens when I consciously remind myself what I can do something about. And then DO one of those things. What’s on your lists? Give it a try and see how you fare.

awareness

Listen Again

Sometimes KT writes a line that really sticks with me. To be clear, many of her posts make me think differently and many prompt me to make a change in how I approach life or how I act. This is a little different…here’s my take on her recent post about listening and what a gift it is.

Here’s the line (and I encourage you to read the whole post): Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human.

Being a more intentional listener found its way into my goals this year. A series of conversations made me realize that I don’t sincerely listen to people as often as I should. I reflected on the fact that although people ask me all the time “how are you?” and I answer, I don’t often ask them how they are. I’m often so caught up in what I’m doing I don’t even look up. I may make a brief comment but not much else.

What am I telling people as I just let them walk by? I don’t look them in the eye. Sometimes I don’t look up from what I am doing. Sometimes I probably seem annoyed at the interruption.

I’ve been trying to reverse since since it caught my attention. When I think about it, I take the time to put down what I am doing and ask the person how they are. And then follow up with another question.

What I have noticed is that more people than I realized are hungry to share. Excited to connect. They want to tell me a bit about how they are.

I thought I was a decent listener. Now I see that I need work. The invitations to listen are everywhere. How many have I blown off because I didn’t make time or was just too into what I was doing to notice them? From my friends, my co-workers, members of my family?

Among the other unfolding lessons, the pandemic has taught me that people matter more than pretty much anything else. We can’t replace people or the opportunities we have to share with them. I have missed many, but I am committed to doing better moving forward.

I’m also on the lookout for the people who are dropping out of sight. Who haven’t I heard from in a while? Different schedules and limited opportunities to be out and about make those happenstance meetings less frequent. Who is telling me through their silence that they may need a friend? Who can I text to check in with? Who can I lift up with a funny post, a quote, a kind word? Who can I (re)start a conversation with? As KT often says, hope is free.

The motto of the StoryCorps podcast is: listening is an act of love. Who can I love today by listening to them? Who can you?

awareness

Grief

Grieving is different for everyone. Grieving is more difficult for some than others. This year I saw a lot of loss around me. Too much if you ask me, but it’s the hand I was dealt this year.
I lost a dog just before COVID. There are many times he is thought of but the memories in the heart last forever. He is running with the angels somewhere. There was just one Axel in my world. Forever a memory just like my childhood dog named Tuffy. 

Then a jovial business associate lost his battle with cancer in the early days of COVID. That was gut-wrenching but at a distance due to COVID. He made so many laugh. He inspired many in his years. He was just a big loss to many. He is better off now, in peace. No more suffering.

Then within 48 hours of my dad passing naturally my mother-in-law passed. Boom. Just like that. Two family leaders gone in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Amidst a pandemic. Travel bans, burial restrictions. So many nos. Not the goodbye one ever expected. The roller coaster and shock of a double whammy still makes me shake my head yet it still seems surreal.

Boom another colleague drops just like that. He was suffering in silence. Away from people due to isolation requirements with a low immune system. Gone and somewhat forgotten. Why? No service beyond the immediate family because of full-blown COVID. Time has passed. People have moved on. Did they forget? For those closest I see the hurt. Their healing is a delayed state. Still isolated. Lacking drive. Wondering why the circumstances are still what they are.

Time passes. Grief lingers. Everyone emotes differently. The fall/winter holidays are hard. The first Thanksgiving meal without that special somebody. That first Christmas tree without a special helper to decorate with. A new year alone. Isolation of a different kind sets in.

Depression hits some hard. Anger hits others. The pandemic is still here after so many months. Some haven’t moved on but some have. Isolation. Stress. Loneliness.

Check on your loved ones. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I share my losses to help others who may still be grieving alone or in silence. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to miss that person. That’s all part of the process. You will have good days. You will have days that are a mess. Just keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. You can do it.

It’s time to honor the memories and cherish the moments you had with that special person with others. I’ve really thought about what I will do this holiday to make sure I include the one who’s missing in the celebrations of my family.

Their spirit can be echoed on in many ways. May you have a peaceful holiday no matter how you celebrate this year.

Make the most of what you have. Make memories. Share the special moments while you can. Even if it’s virtually.