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

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.