Complicated…

No one looks forward to uncomfortable conversations. Some people do anything and everything to avoid the person and the conversation as long as possible. Others user a “bring it on” attitude and dive right in. Another camp talks to people they know about the impending conversation so they can prepare, all the while trying not to drown in anxiety and sadness because there is no real way around it. 

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The holidays will bring about the uncomfortable conversation for me and my family, and it sucks. My brother, his wife, and their baby will go home for Christmas to see the family and introduce him to friends and relatives. The baby will get to see his father in his old neighborhood and will experience the other side of his family. There will be a few people missing from this holiday experience – my aunt, two of my cousins (one died, one is in a care facility), me, and my husband.

Holidays should not be complicated. They should be joyous and celebratory, which is usually the opposite of our experience.  I love my family in spite of the holidays. Many of my most enjoyable holidays were spent with friends and their families around college time or have been peaceful because Husband and I were not the family, except for the Christmas my brother and his wife spent with us in Texas. When we still lived near our families, Husband and I had a hard time seeing both families for the same holiday because of the inevitable energy drain, conflict, etc. Over time, his remaining family is more or less nonexistent, and mine is best in small doses. The last time I was in the presence of my parents and overlap with relatives a little over two years ago, and it did not end well after we left the family gathering. My parents and I have recovered the best we can from the debacle, a story for another post, and I enjoyed the rest of my trip with friends and time to myself. My relatives were happy to see me and I feel fortunate to have spent time with my aunt, our last in-person visit before she died earlier this year. 

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This brings me to the currently approaching holiday season. After close to two years, the COVID thing is still lurking and is complicating people’s lives. Many people have natural immunity, while others insist on getting vaxxed and that everyone around them be vaxxed. Like many people, I fall right into the middle of this debacle. Most, if not all, of my immediate and extended are on one side of this while we are on the other side. I know a few people in the same situation but they, like us, have a few people on their side as well.  I don’t feel comfortable traveling during the holidays and leaving Husband alone, especially with the airlines in chaos, my job having legalized discrimination policies related to traveling and quarantining (punishing healthy people who make individual medical decisions), and the fact that one of parents shared that my brother and wife has already inquired about the status of family members. Oh, and they scheduled my parents for all of their shots. I have already expressed some thoughts on the matter months ago before this whole situation continued to progress and escalate to mandates in different cities and states, and even at the federal level. I have noticed communication with some members of my family have dwindled after a certain conversation with one person, um… so much for freedom and individual opinion. The unsaid uncomfortable conversation just hangs out in the atmosphere for now. It just sucks. Good time to use radical acceptance skills.

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As I’ve gotten older, my childlike glee for holidays has greatly reduced but does flare up around Christmas. I’m not a big decorator, but having little get-togethers with co-workers and festivities that make work enjoyable won’t happen again this year because my agency has decided against it. I have an office now, that doesn’t usually see more than me or a few colleagues due to back-and-forth restrictions. I’ve debated with myself about decorating for me and to contribute a bit to the building-wide décor or to skip it, but I’m still not sure… wait a minute, people can decorate several trees in groups but not have parties or meals together?

For the few people who might read this, I realize my opinions will stir up a myriad of feelings – how insensitive of you, how irresponsible, you selfish #!%&*(&,  f#ck those stupid Covidiots or good for you for standing up to the medical tyranny, and everything in between. As someone who has been sick only twice in the past two years, (right before the virus was unleashed and again right after jabs were widely available), I believe that I have a healthy, functioning immune system and that the most irresponsible people are those who perform ongoing medical experiments on a naively trusting public with no idea who this will turn out. However, I believe in personal freedom, mine and yours. All that keeps happening is that people allow themselves to be divided along the newest line in the sand that someone else draws and broadcasts it 24/7 on cable news until the world panics. 

On that note, I hope people can find some holiday cheer and that they can remember why holidays exist (other than to generate revenue for retail and travel industries) – family and friends celebrating and sharing. I pray for an end to the manufactured conflicts and emergencies, and for a resurgence of common decency, critical thinking, and humanity. I hope it’s not too late, or too complicated… cards hanging on Christmas tree

Live the day

Staying in the moment to enjoy the sunshine, the blue sky, the ease of getting things done without stress, I know that this is temporary. I hold on to the feeling of warmth on my face. I thank God that I feel good and for the beauty surrounding, even if only for a day or two. It makes me think of the Headspace analogy of thoughts being clouds that pass us by, and I make it happen with my own thoughts. It feels good to just be, to take in the day without worry or concern or jumping ahead to the things I think will happen or to the unpleasantries that may be spoken. Time to just breathe and live the day, which is what I am doing.

I always say that I want to write more, good or bad, so I am, as I cultivate ideas and try to hold on to them. I slept good the past few nights, got my back worked on yesterday morning so my tension is gone, and I felt free to hang out with Husband and do a few things we each want to do. He has worked in the garden and organized his music and playlists, while I went to my appointment, ran some errands, did laundry, made a hair appointment, and baked brownies. It between, we laughed, played Name that Tune, ate good food, and planted our very young oak tree in the front yard. All simple things that work for us.

Lurking in the corner of my mind are the holidays and their complications, my family and our differences of lifestyle and opinions, the façade of how good the things at large look (such as the economy, life going back to normal, how free we are or aren’t) and all the ways they will fall apart. Some days I can be conscious of these things and not have it in me to deal, while other days I am so conscious they rock me to the core. On exceptional days, I can be conscious of them and also focus on the now – they are there, but I am here. One of my favorite things was watching bees flutter from dandelion to dandelion to other little flowers on my grass as I picked up rocks and other debris from the tree planting. I could hear the soft buzzing as they communicated to each other and pollinated. We co-existed for a short time, and I felt lucky to be out there and see them.

I often wonder how others can go through their days unfazed with the things of the world that sometimes take over my existence, but it’s been a few days since I had that thought. I am here in the now, at least for now, grateful for the good things and the good feelings. Sometimes it just clicks.

My inner Walter Mitty

HD wallpaper: Adventure Waits For No One, Travel, Other ...I watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty a few days ago, and I loved it. Having seen Meet the Parents, Duplex, Along Came Polly, There’s Something About Mary, and other Ben Stiller movies, I gave it a shot. Initially set in New York city and roughly based off a short story of the same name (which I was unaware of but now plan to read), the movie kept my attention and offered wonderful scenery as Walter Mitty traveled the world to track down a photographer and overcame his propensity for being cautious and avoiding risk. In this way, the movie really did remind me of Along Came Polly, as both characters leave their comfort zone in order to find happiness, though they are also very different movies. Funny that Along Came Polly is also set in New York city.

I related to the story because I get very comfortable in different situations. I get into a routine and I like knowing what I’m doing. Change has never been easy for me until I adjust, and then things change again. I like organization, making notes, having a calendar and an idea of what is going to happen. I also relate to the story because I hold onto certain feelings, I choose to go with what I know and try to hold onto it. I like some of the so-called modern conveniences we have in society, but I would give much of it back for life to be simple again. Many of the shows I like to watch don’t feature cell phones, social media or current times, such as Seinfeld, Felicity, Beverly Hills 90210, Blossom, The Brady Bunch, and others, and they also tend to feature life as I wish mine had been… Large groups of friends, adventures, close-knit happy, supportive families, and people who overcome self-doubt, depression, challenges, and family conflict to achieve great things.

These shows also help me revisit times in my life I would that I could relive or get a do-over. Again, this is tied to recurring theme radical acceptance and being in the now, but sometimes you need to just relax, have a few laughs and reminisce, too. I couldn’t really tell you what is currently on tv, except for what I see in commercials while watching MLB games, Darkside of the Ring or ads that play on Hulu while I watch the shows and movies mentioned above. Maybe these shows and movies weren’t the best acted or most creative but I connect with them and prefer them to all of the virtual reality-based garbage I see being promoted. By, am I starting to sound old or what? Maybe I’m just catching up to myself.

Getting back to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I plan to use it as inspiration to try new things, venture in new directions, and build on my creative skills of writing, taking pictures, and extending my comfort zone a little. Once I read the short story, I’ll write about that and let you know what I thought.

* All photos used are available through Creative Commons or Public Domain.

Trying to navigate life..

Everyone feels like this from time to time, just trying to get up every day and keep going. Some day this is not easy to do. All you can do is try to navigate life the best you can, and try to have to more good days than bad.  

One of these days, I ‘ll figure life out.

Normal is never coming back…

We sit and listen to the Global Alert News Hour every Saturday or, as Dane Wiginton refers to it, “The Bad News Broadcast”. He covers news headlines from the week – everything from COVID-19 to geoengineering, environmental collapse, and various other news topics. One of Dane’s weekly quotes is, “If you think the former paradigm is coming back, think again.” He’s right. With every passing day, life moves further and further in the wrong direction.

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It’s easy to look to the past and think about seemingly happier times, especially if the present is unpleasant, but the sad truth is that past likely wasn’t as we perceived it to be. Regardless, we have to focus on what we have and what we can control rather than what we hope for and wish to be true. There are so many moments I would love to revisit… On bad days, I sometimes find it hard to think about those times or look at the pictures on my capturing those moments but, most of the time, I am so grateful to have those memories and to have lived those experiences. Times with friends and family, with Husband, and with our kitties. Travels to NYC and back to Chicago, road trips for weeks at a time, and shorter trips to state parks. Sunrises, sunsets, beautiful landscapes, and adventures… We seized those moments and carry them with us, as life changes all around us.

I try to think about the good things, while fully realizing that life’s challenges will build rather than dissipate, and that the toughest choices lie ahead. The smallest, sweetest moments now mean the most, and I hope they will sustain me. I look to my knowledge of resilience and Radical Acceptance, and try to tap into those skills like never before. Accepting that something is does not mean you agree, just that you deal with what is while trying to cope, improve or at least not worsen a situation or condition. More than  ever before, I see that playing out and actively put it to practice. 

Each of us has a different experience, even as we walk through life side by side. So much time is wasted fighting about who is right when we are being given a false narrative on everything, no matter which channel you watch. We need to appreciate the good things, while also thinking critically about the reality in front of us against what we are told to be true.