BOUNDARIES

“Do you want to go canoeing?” Samuel asks.

No answer from me, he adds, “Do you want to go biking?”

Non-committal and quiet, he gets it and goes off biking down the road by himself. Rest and rejuvenation was needed after a day of many accomplishments. A day to enjoy the fruits of my labors, listening to crickets while the sun soaked in.

Once adjusting to changes in nature as fall approaches, accepting the inevitability of summer’s waning, the craving arises for relishing every moment. But Samuel seems more in need of me than I am used to. And in trying to comply with his wants, mine are shoved aside. And I shoved them there.

“What about tomorrow,” he asks.

Feeling the pressure once again, I caved.

“OK, which one,” I asked.

“Well, the canoe is still loaded. We can canoe one more time then I’ll take it off,” he said.

Uninspired I agreed. But when we went enjoyment was lacking. The waterway close by is not the prettiest and has stinky spots where the fishermen left their catch to rot. Aren’t you supposed to take out the hook then throw them back?

Returning home it seemed as if the day had been stolen. There is something precious about the approach to fall. The stillness, the crickets, the hum settling me to my bones right to my heart. After a life of agonizing loneliness, thirsting for closeness with others, but thwarted by an inability to trust, the person I want to know more fully and be content with… is me. 

But Samuel seems so needy. Get a hobby, go DO something. Don’t rely on me so much. Our paradise keeps me excited. Each lap brings wonders. Two baby spotted deer love our creek area eating up the fallen pears. They freeze at my approach wondering what to do.

Staring at me one finally hops away. The other was there after lap two still staring which made me chuckle- silly baby. The King Fisher swoops into the water searching for something. Though what is a mystery in that little creek where the only fish are gigantic carp ten times their size. 

A fat ground-hog wobbles away. Little bunnies as inexperienced as the fawns grow each time one is spotted, but are becoming sharper at detecting my arrival. Butterflies are stupendous, orange, black, yellow and white.

Keeping our home brings pleasure and occupies much of my time puttering about making it pleasant. Walking laps throughout the day keeps me well physically but also emotionally and spiritually offering deep peace and a body that thrives on movement.

Trying to please another is OK, but not when it steals peace and joy. It’s no earth shattering problem, just interesting how much my tendency is to give in to what another wants. We must each find our way. Mine might include saying no.

MEADOW WALK

 

SAFETY

My Secret Garden

Six years ago my blogging began around this time, and the feelings of approaching fall are similar. The down in mood, sadness over just about every loss that ever was and ever will be. But hopes continue that it will be handled and nothing occurs that makes a whopping depression. Because I’ve had some of those.

The morning is cold, 49 degrees, and fall feels so close. After yesterday’s list of house chores were checked off, including weeding the flower garden a bit, today feels like staying still.

Dew sparkles like glittering diamonds. When the sun finally comes above the trees, soaking it in though my thick bathrobe soothes every bone and sinew, also soothing my internal worries always at the ready to take a jab.

It’s OK, my refrain when worries take hold. It’s OK, you’re OK, everything’s OK. Well, of course it’s not as the news states. But it is OK as far as anything I’m able to do to fix it. My feelings are that kids should learn from home right now. And colleges? Are they daft? Sports? Are you kidding?

It still amazes me how others aren’t being serious about this deadly virus. But in my little slice of paradise there’s nothing I can do but keep myself safe, and hope my children and grand-children stay safe.

They move about much more than we do. Shane’s family leaves tomorrow to stay with his brother in a neighboring state for a week. My prayers are for their safety. Wistfulness descends for not being able to see my son who lives so far away.

We’ve not been together other than virtually since last Christmas. And we’ve already decided that his coming this Christmas isn’t a good idea. Though sadness can sweep me away doubting that decision repeatedly, it is the right decision for us. My efforts focus on the positives of which there are many.

 

The Cure

Eerily quiet and unusually dark at my accustomed waking time, the silence is unnerving. Where have the birds gone? My guess is many have left for warmer climates already. They surely arrive here earlier in the spring than most people realize, as early as February’s end.

The feelings of loneliness this usually brings is not as deep or as painful. There is an energy occurring that wasn’t present during all the years of restless sleep when waking at all kinds of hours, staying awake watching TV.

Good sleep means more energy. It also means a brighter outlook on things with a happier mood, happy which equates to more peaceful. The magic cure seems to lie in the pot oil begun after visiting Cory last fall in a state where the oil is legal.

After choking on  smoking the pot also purchased, then hallucinating afterwards freaking out, needing my grown son to talk me down, it was the oil that was more fitting for me. The pot these days is nothing like my college days because it is way more powerful.

The oil seems to have cured much of what ails me. Not a total cure, but toning it all down and still there to manage. What a blessing, and all in this innocuous little plant. It probably wouldn’t have done all it can do earlier in my life because there was just too much to overcome. 

But after years of therapy and living through the worst, it was the little bit needed to send me over to the side of peace. Still the work goes on. It does not offer immediate self-esteem. Nor does it remove anxiety, an issue worked on daily.

But it does help with sleep a great deal along with the tendency for repetitive negative thinking. But discipline is needed to keep countering those voices which sometimes thrash me down unequivocally.

All the tools that help are needed, and this is one of many. But this addition after all these years is an amazing balm to my overworked systems. Though it works for me, it is not a recipe for everyone. We each find our own ways through our own hell’s. 

 

At Peace In The Moment

The day is quiet, laying before me like an open book. Rather than do, do, do, my quest resides deeper staying in one place a very long time. With sneakers on, uncharacteristically ready for action, Samuel asks, “Do you want to go biking?”

Wanting stillness and peace, not action, I respond, “I’m not ready. I have to eat, get dressed, then meditate.”

“Well, I don’t like it when it gets too hot,” he says, adding, “I’m going.”

Good. Time alone today is a good thing, opening the windows after he leaves because he said keep them shut so it stays cool. There’s cool, then then there’s cool when feeling so chilly a sweater is needed.

It is summer, and after the stickiness that made me happy to have air conditioning, today is just a nice summer day to be enjoyed fully… windows open.

Sometimes in my efforts to please even just one other person, my self is lost in the shuffle. Sometimes compromise means giving up too much, so much the internal forces are not at peace which equates to unhappy.

Sometimes the business of placing so much effort each day in moving my body more, the pleasure is lost in the doing instead of being.

So today come back home and experience the satisfaction of each moment without pressure.

Back to Basics

It was a terrible mistake that took days to recover from, both from the loud banging critic inside me as to why do such a thing, and a body that lived life with too many cortisol bursts over and over every day for decades.

Draining, life before the scourge was exhausting. Going out among people threatening. So why, when the threat of life or death is real, go out among others?

Thinking it would be different, that the trails would offer space. That the natural swimming area would be safe. No, that was my first mistake. Others walked by without masks. Kids came onto the little bridge only a few feet wide going right by us with no adult making them wait until we got off.

The sirens inside me took off and only now, days later, has the world felt safe again. All those people at the swimming glen area, where the beauty usually relaxes to my core, this time heightened my already taxed system into extreme alert.

The campground itself lied, that sets my body off too. Lying and manipulation causes great fear and rage even now, though the traumas of youth were 60 years ago. In trying to keep the population down, they weren’t letting campers onto sites until the end of the day. Never in 30 years has that happened. Just be honest.

But no, they lie saying no one had left the sites yet. Since Samuel didn’t want to leave, and my fear of angering him made me stay, he suggested we go look at our site. It was all cleaned and ready. We set up feeling like rebels but all the while my internal cravings were wishing for home.

Most of my retaliation has been against myself. Why can’t my life be like others who seem to breeze through this more easily? My voices need taming. While walking, energy is given to allow more compassion for myself. You didn’t know. Of course it’s hard. People on a good day threaten my safety. You didn’t realize that being so close to others would set you off. 

The next breath- that hateful voice, You should have known.

Meditation, which seemed last on my ‘to do list’ needs center-stage. That brings me back ‘home.’ All the daily work that usually is done needs to be returned to; paying attention to each moment without running from it, going slow at my own pace, just be present. Notice the minute happenings that excite. Yet they become lost in the shuffle of doing, then soaring PTSD symptoms that resist being calmed.

Home is more than a place of safety. It is also a place inside oneself that welcomes with as much safety as the exterior home accepting my being with love, compassion, and open arms… my daily work. 

 

PAPER DOLL

Though summer brings oppressive heat, walks bring peace to a mind working on over-drive. Before breakfast the heat and humidity is tolerable, even pleasant until the sun comes full up. So many thoughts bombarding into each other on a day when feeling scattered too.

How to come together? Time alone by the water— birds, raccoons, turtles, frogs, carps as big as sharks, and the water weasel, all keeping me company. It is OK to stay where safety is found, the decision to cancel so many plans repeatedly questioned.

No, we are not being too extreme. Others seem to be taking risks we’d rather not take. We are being cautious. Camping next week with Shane… no, nor any camping. A trip to Cory’s in Massachusetts’s…no. We don’t care to deal with public restrooms, or any other possible source of contamination.

And finally peace over these things. It is the right and safest decision for us. Whatever is needed is right here, it always has been. There is also relief at not having to travel. It always took its toll on my fragile nervous system, depleted after a life of excess cortisol coursing through my body unnecessarily. My startle response raced into fight or flight many times daily. My body still does it, though years of meditation have helped calm it down.  

There are wounds still needing attending to. Trust is not something regained, but maybe in increments. Samuel and others aren’t out to get me, a belief cemented into my views since childhood when learning just what human beings are capable of. That belief won’t completely change, but some cracks open up letting in light during rare moments of peace and safety.

Chet spent a good deal of time figuring when he could get at me, and that expectation, that others are trying to do evil, will last. It made an indelible imprint, a deep wound to attend to… a crumpled paper doll needing gentle care.

Quarter Back or Openness?

Waking, shoulders tense against the day. While sipping coffee on the porch, squelching the tendency to move, the message to self—stay. Go deeper. Go into the body.

Go from the shoulders, which hold a defensive position from habit, as fighting my way through life has been, or seemed necessary, and instead relax into my body.

With a sigh, the rest of my body is felt, wholeness occurs which isn’t all in my head and shoulders. It is in every pore and sinew, it is in that space with no name that dwells between the muscle, bone or blood.

The songbirds sing sweet melodies as the rock fountain gently gurgles brook-like waterfalls, and I am complete.

The Tooth

“How are you?” asks the dentist.

“I am two people,” I reply, and the air was still, adding before she was able to figure out what to say next, “a terrified child, and a person who asked you for help knowing you are competent to do it.”

“I’m sorry you went through all that,” she replied, and the two of them went to work.

The process of getting the lost filling repaired took about an hour, but the rest of the day felt wasted. Too tired from the medication needed to calm my flight of flight response meant resting afterwards. I even fell asleep for a lengthy nap which is a rarity. But still, this time was different.

Rather than a rumbling terror each day prior, my message to myself, or more precisely to the terrified child within, was, I’ll take care of it. It’s only a tooth to be fixed.

And compared to the terror of what’s floating in the air these days, tooth problems do seem minor. Yet my PTSD symptoms worsening with age won’t go away because I tell them to. Medication was still needed.

Though seemingly a wasted day, it was not. It was of great achievement. The hunk of filling came out about when the pandemic hit. My tongue has slipped over the rough edged gap ever since not chewing on that side.

The owner of the office assured me that the they dispel a spray in-between patients, and I’d be first in anyway. But I wish the two working on me didn’t chat back and forth while only 6 inches from my face. Stick to what is needed to be said about the process, not senseless chatter.

In normal times unrelated chatter soothes, but now caused worry. They had on masks and eye gear, but no shields. How do I know if their breathing and talking wasn’t getting on me lying there with my mouth open? It seemed very wrong for both patient and provider.

But it’s done, I did it!

MOTHER’S DAY

On Mother’s Day my gift is that my son’s and their family’s are people that they are. Each one offers the world so much of what’s needed right now; warmth, compassion, and love. My gratefulness spills over

The morning starts cool, crisp, and sunny drawing me out to walk much earlier than usual. Stunning, just stunning. My heart feels full with thankfulness as the leaf of grass sparkled with morning dew.

Later, both sons call, and with one we enjoy breakfast together during a video chat while our grand-daughter eats her oatmeal. The baby sleeps in front her on the island in a contraption that looks like a stuffed doughnut, but is generally used to support an arm while breastfeeding. 

The other son calls at the same time, so we drop one call to talk to the other. He also surprises me later by setting a balloon and fruit bouquet on the porch, ringing the door bell, then running to the middle of the yard with the rest of his family. (wife and three children) 

We chat, and laugh while the kids tell the latest stories while running around doing cartwheels and splits. 

It was one of those days being cognizant of what is going on in the world while remaining in my body…. a good day, a productive day, a day filled with love. Even my cat benefited from my being present. There is a difference between acting loving and really feeling it. Barriers and dissociation took a day off. 

Peace During a Pandemic

photo by Patricia

Having a plan for the day brings goals. Sometimes the goals need to be cut back in order to go at a pace without rush or anxiety. Anxiety bubbles below like constant running water during the pandemic scare.

How to find calm? The usual ways, puttering in the kitchen making home-made whole wheat pizza. White, of course, for Samuel. That is an all-day project, making the dough, letting it rise on the stove, baking, toppings, then baking again.

In between kitchen prepping, a call to a friend who isn’t able to zoom into her church services or our planned zoom group gathering today. And between the two of us, success! So a lovely visit with a friend where I could see her face and her smile.

And the most precious times are walking the meadow with meditative time at the creek. Samuel eventually joins me. We sit quietly listening to the orchestra of birds. .

There is peace to be found during this pandemic, a marathon rather than a sprint.