perspective

Where’s the Disconnect?

Everywhere, all around, it seems connections are breaking down.

Big & small.  Local & global.  Things we never think about, things we take for granted, suddenly aren’t working anymore.

The news is so puzzling it makes my head spin.

First, food.

Almost every night on the news, there’s a story about the lines at food pantries and other food giveaways that wrap around buildings and through parking lots.  People are spending hours in line to get basic necessities of all kinds. Families that were once secure are quickly, unexpectedly in need.  And families that were teetering on the edge are now hanging on for dear life.

I guess it’s not that surprising, in light of how many people have lost jobs.

What turns to shocking is when I read a story about how farmers are burying onions, cracking thousands of eggs, dumping milk out and more, all before they get to consumers. The loss of restaurant, hotel, and school outlets for food has turned demand on its head.  Or that the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 infections means many animals will be killed and never make it to market.  Staggering. Unimaginable.  The resources, so desperately needed, will be destroyed.

Hungry people on one side, supplies of food on the other, being wasted.

Where’s the disconnect? Why is it so hard to fix this, if the supplies of food are there as well as the demand?   While scientists are busy developing and distributing tests, I hope logistics experts are working on this food issue. I feel frustrated and helpless in it.

Second, human connection.

A similar disconnect may be true in mental health.  The worries about loneliness, isolation, and more stream through my news and social media feeds. All of that is a concern.  Some people cry out and are hopefully heard and reassured.  But then it’s the people who are invisible, who aren’t speaking up, who may live alone or are in unhealthy situations who can be the most worrisome.  People who may be losing hope, losing connection. I think we are all eager to connect.  Demand is high, and I believe supply is, too.  Still, being physically separate is a challenge.

I can’t drive a semi to Iowa or Idaho and get all that good food and bring it to where it is needed.  I am grateful to Publix and Kroger and other organizations who are trying to reconnect supply and demand in whatever ways they can.  In my own life, I can talk to those who may be having food or financial struggles and offer to share what I have. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.

I can be even more direct with the mental health worries, though. I can reach out to people I know.  And especially try to think of people who may be having a hard time.  People I haven’t heard from in a while.  People who might be lonely or afraid. Disconnected. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.  Check in.

Keep looking for ways to connect people with the resources they need.  Be the connection.

perspective

The Vault

The word vault came up in a conversation recently while I was visiting with the girls in the park one Sunday afternoon. Of course the visit was 6 feet away but it was a much needed time together for a group that missed each other immensely during the corona pandemic. Fresh air. Freedom. Fun with friends. Some of my favorites things in one place.

When the word was said I immediately thought bank vault. Where you store the gold blocks as you see in the bank heist movies. Then I drifted a bit in my mind and thought of the vault in track and field competitions, aka pole vault. Two different meanings of the same word.

In the conversation the vault was referred to as a memory bank as in your brain. The short- and long-term memories we all have and where they are stored, filed away or compartmentalized. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of the above is in essence in each person’s vault. We each have the ability to store, re-engage, or erase the items in our vault at our sole discretion. The power we have with such an important storage facility. Will this memory bank give us strength and comfort or does it provide stress we keep holding on to?

As I drifted off thinking about this word, I knew a post would be forthcoming as soon as I had moment to write. What’s in my vault? What do I re-engage and what do I purposely disconnect? So much to think about. So much power and will. Is this emotional intelligence?

That makes me wonder what is in others’ vaults. Is there happiness? Is there sadness? Is there emotional stress? Is there financial baggage? Everyone has skeletons in their closets or maybe I should say skeletons in their vaults. We all have the choice of when we open the vault, who we share the keys to our vault with and if we ever use what’s in the vault to provoke others.

As I was writing this I drifted many times into thoughts of the word vault and its variables. I thought of many trips to churches over my life and the powerful vaulted ceilings I saw over the years. The detail. The power. The design. What does my vault look like inside my brain? Clearly it’s my design but is it unique, is it an architectural dream or is it made of inferior material?

I actually know what my vault looks like in my mind. I know if it’s easily accessible or not. How many people have a secure vault and how many don’t? That’s more of the mystery to me but I’m a people person and I am genuinely intrigued by the complexity of humans.

I will ponder thoughts over my vault for days I am sure. I will be curious of the contents of others’ vaults around me as well. It may be the contents of said vaults that cause poor responses in times of challenge or struggle. Since we are in the midst of a pandemic I just thought I’d share this word and possibly my wisdom or rant regarding it.

The word vault. The mystery. The memories. The mind fuck. That’s the vault in my eyes.

awareness

Need Help?

In today’s ever-changing world many people need help. Maybe from the stress of what’s in front of them and maybe the stress that is indirectly hitting them.

This post is meant to be a resource page. It may not help everyone who reads this post but it’s meant to offer hope in what is a challenging time for many.

If you were impacted by recent storms in the southern United States, the above number may be helpful.

If you or anyone you know is having trouble coping with the stress relating to managing life during COVID-19, this suicide prevention help line may be a resource worth sharing.

If you reside in the great state of Georgia, the above COVID-19 support resource list may be just what you need access to.

Remember we are all in this crazy mess together. Taking advantage of a free resource or passing on such information is prevention education. It’s a way to offer hope in a challenging time.

2 Chicks and a Pen consider mental health of utmost concern these days. We do our part to write online to motivate others as well as offer hope when needed. If these resources don’t cover your geographical area, find some that do and pass the information on.

You never know who is struggling in silence. With many forced into reclusive environments a lifeline resource can be a life-saving option.

Hugs and love from 2Chicks. We are smiling big at you!

 

awareness

Swimming Lessons

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Summer, Jersey Shore. Our family reunion.

At night we had dinners at homes by the bay. Seafood, pizza, pasta, coolers of beer, laughter.

All day was sand, sunscreen, and the mighty Atlantic.

We only came every four years. Each time the ocean seemed drastically different. There was the year when swarms of jellybean-sized-jellyfish crowded us ankle deep day after day.  The year I brought my young children and it was just too cold and rough for them to swim.  And I can’t forget the time I was in my late teens and went swimming with my dad.

My dad was disabled my entire life.  His progressive, severe rheumatoid arthritis took him from hobbling, to cane-dependent, to wheelchair-bound.  His broken body betrayed his wandering, roller-coaster riding spirit many times, but still, he always kept pushing his body as far as it would go.

This day, he had probably taken 20 minutes to carefully shuffle across the scorching sand with the help of a cane and a patient cousin.  Slowly, carefully, taking a break every ten yards or so, but he had to get to the water.

Oh, how my dad loved the water.  It was the one place he felt free.  He could float, glide, swim, and move unencumbered by the lumps, aches, and pains of his joints.  In the water, he would float, belly, toes, nose bobbing above the waves, his smile as wide as the unending coastline.

The beach was its usual crowded and the water its usual choppy.  If there was a yellow flag warning, we didn’t heed it.  Nothing could keep my Dad from his floating freedom in the briny sea. My Dad and I descended the steep wet sand and out we went to swim.

We floated.  We talked.  We dog paddled.  We enjoyed the sun.  Minutes passed, or was it hours?  Time to head back in for a sandy snack. We looked up and the coastline was distant.  Farther away than I had thought it would be.  Much farther. So we tried to swim in, but no matter what we got further and further away from the shore.

The waves, once so joyful to float over, became relentless.  We were tired.  Our arms and legs were no match for the tides dragging us out.  I was staying under a bit longer each time than I should have.  Panic started to set in.  We were running out of solutions.  Fear set in. Fear took over our minds.

My Dad was still floating but he knew we were in trouble, too.  He was struggling to stay afloat himself.  My Dad, a better swimmer than I, was still no match for the undertow.  He wanted to help me so much, I am sure, but he could hardly help himself stay up.  How could he help me when his own life was in trouble? Both of us were running out of energy.  If I grabbed onto him to give my body a break from the effort, even though he was better in the water, we both would surely drown. Our will to live was dwindling by the minute.

Wave to the shore, he said.  So many of our family were watching us.  So I waved, flailed, used every ounce of strength to try to signal.  How can I tell them we are in trouble?  I screamed. Crossed my arms, all kinds of signals. My dad doing the same. Nothing worked.  They all just waved back, likely figuring we were just having fun with my dad’s swimming skills, well-known in our family ranks. My cries of “help us” got lost in the ocean breezes. Our cries were in plain sight but could anyone hear us?  Was anyone even listening? Nobody understood our fear.  No one seemed to care.

It seemed like hours but my dad’s cousin Tom finally figured out we were in over our heads.  He bravely swam out and somehow dragged us in from the riptide.  I still remember an aunt screaming “smile!” and snapping a photo as we slumped out of the water, past exhaustion.  No one knew we had been within an inch of drowning.

Fast forward twenty-something years, this story hits me in new ways in my daily life. Am I now the one on the shore? Are people struggling right in front of me that I pass by, unknowing? Are they at the brink of drowning and I miss their signals?

I think of my father.  The better swimmer.  How much he must have hurt inside, knowing he couldn’t help his daughter without both of us losing the battle against the breakers.  How can you help someone who is drowning when you are are not fully afloat yourself?  When you are pummeled by the endless waves, just trying to stay afloat?  A lesson in this.

I can point and draw attention. Signal to those who might be able to help. But will they hear the silent or distant cries? If I wave my arms will that make a difference? I can keep her company like my Dad did for me…  Keep her calm. Try to set her mind at ease in the middle of the fear I know well…the fear of the ocean getting the best of me and dropping into the unknown. Keep paddling.  Don’t give up. I know you’re tired.  Help is coming.

I can make suggestions, try to guide her toward the shore.  Keep working until someone with the strength comes out and meets us, or we find our way back to steady footing.  There’s no happy ending if we both drown, so I try to be a lifeguard the best I can, in the literal meaning of that word. Even the best swimmers get in trouble sometimes.   Every lifeguard wants to save everyone in distress, but the lifeguard also has to stay afloat herself.

In life we have to swim daily. Sometimes the waters are calm and other times they are dark and stormy.

In life we all need saving at times. Sometimes it’s life saving medical treatment for an ailment. Sometimes it’s saving from a bad relationship. Sometimes it’s saving us from our mind, troubled past, or even financial stresses.

We must all remember life is always worth living. Today, tomorrow, and the next day. If you ever think ending your life is the only choice it’s merely the only perceived solution to an insolvable problem. As somebody who was saved, somebody who is a lifelong helper, I am shouting out to the ocean and the world to say don’t give up. Somebody is coming to save you. Don’t let fear take control. Wait another day. Do the doggie paddle of life. Think of my Dad. He was handicapped, wading in the water and he didn’t give up. I didn’t give up because of his spirit. You don’t need to give up either.

There are always people who care. Some may not see the signs in plain sight. You might need to establish a drowning sign. A key word. A hand signal that is universal. Don’t delay – make sure your tribe knows your drowning symbol whether it’s at the beach or closer to home in daily life.

Suicide is real. It impacts those near and far. It does not discriminate. It’s impacted my life and this is my offering of hope to those I may know in need, those I may never know are struggling and those who already lost the battle. I honor you by sharing my story today.

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fitness and nutrition, friendship

Just Show Up and Jump In

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“Our third teammate unexpectedly dropped out at the last minute with a sick kid.  Can anyone make it?”

A post to our gym community in the wee hours of a December Saturday morning.  I thought about it, but plans were already in motion for a day of chasing my daughter and her friends as they volunteered to help with a younger girls’ lacrosse team.  I sent my good wishes…hope someone can step in!

Then the text came in, just to me:  “Can you do the comp today and then come get the girls?”

A pause.  A stomach clench. My only job was transporting my kid and her friends and and now a friend was offering to take all that over so I could help on the team.  So how could I say no?  More stomach clench, I texted back.

“Ummmmm ok.  If that’s the best solution.”

(Inner voice of doubt saying:  “There must be a better solution!”)

From that moment, the whole day took a turn.  What are the workouts?  Do I need a shirt? I was already on the way to the gym…thank goodness I wore black shorts.

I turned the car around to head toward the competition site. The doubting voice crept in again…I haven’t eaten well!  How many burpees?? One rep max complex?!? I haven’t showered and shaved! I can’t do those weights!  I haven’t practiced!

WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE?!?!?!

Well, I was helping friends. I could do at least something and I would give my best. Just show up and jump in, I told myself.  Just show up and jump in. Every time I wanted to turn the car around, I’d tell the doubting voice to pipe down. Just show up and jump in.

And so, I got there about 15 minutes before the first workout.  Quick chat. Waited in the bathroom line, switched shirts, did a few stretches and bam, jumped in and competed.  Looking back now, it is awesome to be fit enough to just get there and give it a go.  Granted, I couldn’t lift as heavily as I would have liked to, but I jumped in and did what I could.  My two Ginger Thruster teammates did the heavy lifting, and lift they did! It was awesome to watch and be a part of.

By the time our first workout was over, some people were just seeing the early morning SOS post.  My friend Milagros asked if I needed anything – extra coffee and water, really.  She showed up with all that, plus some snacks and some needed encouragement.  Another part of the network coming together to solve a need.

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We pushed ourselves. We laughed a lot.  We fought for all the reps, strained for every pound.  I’ve never done so many jumping pull-ups in my life. It was a great day.

One great thing about this competition is they have a box member who is an amazing photographer, Davison Wheeler.  He generously shared nearly a thousand photos of the day, including the ones in this post.  It’s equal parts amazing and humbling to look at the people competing – their stamina, their strength, their skill.  When scroll through to find I the pictures of me, what I noticed is that I am often cheering for my teammates.  I may not be able to lift a huge number of pounds, but I try to lift spirits when I can.

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And a lot of that comes from just showing up and jumping in.