Decisive Action

Life presents challenges and I stumble to keep up. Chronic illness continues to form the backdrop of my life, so it becomes the baseline for any actions I take. Ric and I made a commitment to our health and our community this year, and that means that I have been more physically active than usual. Since my envelope – capacity for energy – has not increased, I am called to make decisions.

Taking a break over Christmas was part of that process. Still, the emails continue to pile up and the number of unread posts becomes insurmountable. I am seeking a solution that simplifies my life once again. Here is what I’ve decided:

  • Posting less. For now, I am trying to post only once per day, alternating blogs (I have two). Longterm, I would like to achieve a device-free day.
  • Selective reading. Some of you wow me with your prolific creativity, and I try to follow and encourage, but it has become too much. In order to spread my attention across the blogging community, I will limit myself to one or two posts from a single source.
  • Scheduling posts in advance. I love the prompts, as witnessed by my weekly challenge. Keeping up with them all, however, just adds to my current stress. I will participate when possible, but preference will be given to pre-scheduling posts. It’s like buying a bit of security.

This forum for connecting means so much and I want to continue to grow my relationships. Would love to hear how you juggle it all.

Thanks to all who participated this week. I missed your unique insights. Nice to be back.

musingsofanoldfart
Eugi’s Causerie
I Write Her
Reena Saxena
parallax
Sgeoil
Stuff and what if…
CURATING THOUGHTS
HEAVEN’S SUNSHINE
one letter UP
Zebra’s Child
HEAVEN’S SUNSHINE (2)
bushboys world

See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

Chapter’s End

We are coming to the end of a chapter. After careful consideration of finances and health issues, we’ve decided that our focus needs to shift away from travel to other matters.

There is no doubt that last year’s adventure helped improve my health, however; it was more a step up (or out of bed, in my case) and not a long-term solution. As this disease is wont to do, it fluctuates, and I can no longer deny that I am slipping backwards. I’ve spent most of the day in bed, and I know that the need to fight off depression is real.

“Let’s go for a drive and catch the sunset,” I suggest to Ric as we finish up our supper. Glancing out the window to ensure there is time, he agrees and we grab our cameras.

We pass several other motorists, pulled over at the side of the road, doing the same thing, but I urge Ric on, wanting to get back to Indian Point Park where the bridge spans the bay with Corpus Christi as a background.

He parks and I glance around, spotting the Black-Crowned Night-Heron in its usual perch. Its colour is so much more vivid in this light, and although it is hunkered in as if sleeping, I know it will be waking soon to prowl.

A loud, woodsy croak alerts me to a Great Blue Heron passing overhead, drawing my focus back to the water’s edge where it has landed. The sun is quickly slipping below the horizon and so I return to the intended task.

One last bird catches my attention as we exit the park – a late forager, like myself, hoping for the final catch of the day.

Next step: prepare the motor home for sale. Know anyone who wants to buy one, still warm with the memories of the past two years?

Resetting the Dial

At fifty-nine, I felt quite certain that I knew myself, that I had accomplished, defined and established.  It seemed that illness had dictated a framework within which my remaining time would unfold.   I had become a non-entity in my former career life, a ghost to many friends.  My children mourned the loss of their vibrant mother and settled into lowered expectations.  My husband took up a new role. Life, like a river, flowed around me while I stood still.

Black and white houses
fade into winter’s landscape –
humble surrender.

Life, however, has no intention of letting us settle.  It drives us through the darkness to find new light, and in the depths of our despair, my husband and I reached out to possibility and gambled on a risk.  We sold our house, and bought a home on wheels, and we set off into the unknown: reset the dial from ailing seniors to snow-capped adventurers.  In that single act of defiant deviation, like throwing open the doors of a jail cell, we found rejuvenation.

As light in darkness
transforms mundanity, so
too am I salvaged –
revelation turning back
the icy pallor of winter.


(Written for this week’s challenge: deviation.  We come together with family  to celebrate an early Christmas this weekend and then mid-week will hit the road for another chapter in our rambling life.)

Lens-Artists: Changing or Changeable

Seasonal changes alter the landscape,
deep greens give over to vibrant amber,
flaming reds and oranges, and cold…

A photographer alters the light, shifts
the focus, tempers the colour and
perfects the image’s final delivery.

Onthelake (colour)

In the same way, I look within, search for the beauty,
adjust flaws, accept what I cannot change, and strive
for meaning, a purpose that inspires, authenticity.

Onthelake (colour)framed

At the very least, I hope to create something
that has lasting appeal, and hopefully, if only
for a moment – makes a difference….

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is change and/or changeable.  The original photo (featured) is of a lake in Nanaimo, British Columbia.)
 

When Turning Off the News Is Not Enough

“I am glad that Bill Cosby got jail time,” I state, seated across from my husband at lunch.  “I hope justice doesn’t stop there.”

My husband shifts uncomfortably in his chair.  He thought that Cosby should have house arrest.  He doesn’t say it now – he’s too sensitive for that – but he has said it before, when I wasn’t feeling so volatile.

I’ve just been to see my psychologist, and the topic of conversation has been the rage that I have been feeling over this recent fiasco in the States.

“Many women are feeling it,” she says.  “It felt like we came so far, and now we’re pulled back under.”

“I don’t know how we change it,” I carry on as Ric focuses on his food.  “As long we live in a patriarchal society, seems women are devalued.”

“Patriarchal?  How is our society patriarchal?  Women hold positions of power too.”

I understand then that he is taking this personally.

“Honey, this is not about women vs men.  This is about a culture that oppresses and has done for centuries.  The ‘old boys club’ mentality that overlooks crimes against humanity in favour of power.  Religious teachings that denigrate and incite hate – not just towards women.  Hell, there are women on the Senate who are turning their backs against the abuse and voting to support the likes of Kavanaugh.”

I am too emotional to make a clear argument right now, and he knows it, so we let it drop.

“Maybe it’s better if we just don’t watch the news for a bit.”

Even that suggestion makes me mad, although I know he’s probably right.  I have no control over what is happening.

“It’s the powerlessness that fans the rage,” my therapist had said.  “There is healthy rage – that which promotes change – and then there is destructive rage.  Protect yourself in these times.”

So much of what is tolerated in society in based on unwritten laws.  On a crowded sidewalk, we move to the right.  In a bottleneck, cars from incoming lanes alternate.
When someone falls, we stop to make sure they are alright.  We are conditioned to be polite, so; when the situation crosses into lines that make us uncomfortable, we walk away.

I think it’s time to raise the bar.   We live in an age of information and the potential for enlightenment is riper than it has ever been.  Let’s set a higher standard for ourselves, people.

I am inspired today by the writings of Scarlet Virago, whose blog post, Lava, addresses the rage I have been feeling.  Please give her a read and a like.

We have a lot to talk about.  Love to hear your thoughts.

(I’ve added my poem:  Meaningful Toil to this post as I think it fits.)

 

 

Lens-Artists: Action

Oh, to jump without fear –
a skill long passed, although
leaps of faith, I still take –
never too aged for those.

scootersisters

I remember when speed equated
with freedom – a constant race –
now I walk with careful measure,
fresh air still accompanying pace.

gymnastic 4

Never could accomplish a cartwheel –
coordination not amongst my skills,
but I can flip a phrase and set argument
on its head – intellect’s nerdy thrills.

Finn in action

There is strength in youth, often
taken for granted – nostalgia recalls –
adopts a new perspective – action counts –
not just prowess, but resiliency from falls.

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is action.  Click on the link to join in.)

 

Self-Talk

What I liked about starting a new school as a kid, was the opportunity to change my approach to life.  In the early years, I was known as a tough girl, a fighter.  I decided to leave her behind when I moved schools in 5th grade, and focus on being smart.  Instead, I learned to hate myself, so when I moved again in Grade 8, I was ripe for bullying.  That escalated, until we moved again in high school, and I had the opportunity to blend in.

“Be friendly,” I told myself, “and try not to stand out.”

I failed, of course, and in the end was asked to leave the school, but moving again afforded me another opportunity to edit myself.  I deduced that sticking to myself and not caring what others thought was the best approach.  Toughness was back, without the fist fights.

Having just moved to a new town, the conversations with myself have started up again.

“Don’t tell them about your illness,” I caution myself.  ME/CFS has defined me these past four years, and I crave another identity.

“This is our opportunity to break free of the stigma.”

“But what will I say when I’m not able to join in, or have to cancel?”

“Who says you have to say anything?  Set healthy boundaries, and just say no.”

“People will stop asking.”

It’s a circular conversation.

“Do you think we can pull it off?  Don’t you think people will notice?”

“So, be mysterious.  It’s none of their business.”

“But I’m such an open book…”

Tomorrow, we’re going to our first social event with our new community.  Hope I can stop talking to myself long enough to enjoy the outing.

(V.J.’s weekly challenge is conversation.)

Home: A Wrap

We arrived Wednesday, our vehicle stuffed full, including a blow-up mattress for me, who would be camping out the remainder of the week.  Ric would travel back and forth, staying at the RV, and I would manage deliveries, and oversee the laying of new floors.

I set up in the living room (bedroom carpets were to be torn out) – a single bed, a sleeping bag, my computer and a flashlight.

“It doubles as a weapon,” Ric reassured me with a smile on his face.

Finding the bathroom the first night felt like going on safari, the space being so much larger than our current home.  I shut the doors to extraneous rooms, so as not to feel overwhelmed. Then there was the silence.  It is quiet here, beyond words.

“We’re an eight to six community,” a passing neighbour told me.  “Nothing happens before or afterwards.”

As promised, deliveries started – we’ve bought everything new as we’re starting over – and I turned my focus to what goes where, and what else do we need.  It’s a bit like being a newlywed, I thought, building our first nest.  So exciting.

Friday, the flooring team arrived bright and early, and later on our new appliances.  By mid-afternoon, I was exhausted, and lay down in the midst of it and napped.  At six, as the last of the workers left, I collapsed in a chair and considered the tracks of dust and dirt.

Ric went for groceries without me and then headed back.  In the morning, he would pick up a moving van and gather the boys to move the rest of the stuff.

At 4:00 a.m., having slept for five hours, I was wide awake.  I put on the kettle and found the broom and mop.  Silly, I suppose, but it was weighing on me.  The first deliveries came at 8:30 – all needing to be assembled.

Friends arrived, like angels descending, and immediately set to work.  By the time Ric and the boys arrived, we had a bed together, a dining room table, and a chair to sit in.  (I use the royal ‘we’ here – not much effort was exerted on my part.)

Soon the house was filled with more boxes and bodies, and the bustle of activity.  By five, I whisked them away,  muscles refusing to hold me upright any longer.  One last ring of the front bell was a neighbour delivering fresh cherry tomatoes from his garden.

Ric and I sat at our dining room table, eating take out and fresh lettuce with tomatoes, bursting with gratitude for those who took the time to help us, and the contentment of knowing we’re home.

***

This week’s challenge focused on the concept of home.  Olga at Stuff and What If talks about home being a place within, first missing, and then evolving to a place of contentment.   Proscenium, caught in a deluge of constant rain, describes home as a place to get comfy, and “enjoy guilty free living” when the storms come.  Sgeoil’s description of home involves roots, people, and connections, and reminds us that it isn’t always just one setting.

I loved the posts this week, and am extremely grateful for all the comments and encouragement during the transition.  This online community is a home unto itself.

Be well all, and see you tomorrow for a new challenge,

V.J.

VJWCbanner

 

 

 

Confessions of Losses and Gains

Illness comes at a cost, yet even as the losses add up, there are gains.

HoneymoongolfingWith the onset of summer, I recall leisurely hours spent golfing with my husband, or friends – a pastime we so loved.  My clubs now take up residence elsewhere, these muscles unfit for the exertion required.

My tennis racquet sits dormant too – a remnant of a passion now redundant.

I miss gatherings at a pool side bar, or a downtown patio – the sound of laughter mingling with the crisp, dry burn of white wine.  My system no longer tolerates alcohol, and outings have changed with priorities.

cheers 2I am no longer the woman, whom my husband called Lucille Ball, whose sunny demeanour and fiery presence guaranteed lively repartee.  The setbacks have softened my edges, this lingering condition evoking a vulnerability that avoids noise, scents, and the overstimulation of crowds.

Where once ambition drove me, and career set precedence for aspirations, I now  live with solitude, find solace in the quiet, have donned a new lens which invites discovery.

Loss has flooded with all the force of a tidal wave, and even as I swim against the pull of despair, I am labouring to redefine purpose, self.

 

IMG_1646I confess that there has been sorrow.  I can attest to darkness.  And, yet, wrapped in all that discord there have been blessings:  awakenings.  I have discovered delight in developing a photographic eye, and the infinite pleasure of daring to express in colour.

(This post is inspired by Manic Mondays 3 Way Prompt: Confession.  Thanks to Laura for hosting.  All photos are from personal collection.  The images of me are from healthier days, when apparently I loved kiwi green.  The watercolour is a close up of a saguaro, if it was orange.)