Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sometimes You Get What You Need

Two days after my birthday I read something that sent me reeling.  It was a post by Heather of Dooce fame where she shared this: " She [a friend] was very specific to point out that my anxiety likes to confuse feelings of joy with feelings of safety, and for me to really dig deep and make the distinction. That’s the really shitty thing about anxiety, it can take the kid inside you who used to marvel at rainbows and dance around in public and tell her that there is way too much to worry about to ever feel like that again."  Heather goes on to talk about how she allays her anxiety with exercise and diet and creating order.

Huh.  I went back and read my own words of the day before: "This year my goals are short-term and attainable, as in picking up and clearing off and updating more regularly.  I am walking longer and faster on the treadmill, which tells me that regularity matters there, too.  Drink more water and less coffee.  Eat more vegetables and less sugar."

Exercise and diet and creating order.  Those were my goals.  I could have chosen anything for the year ahead and I decided what I really need is to keep things clean and organized, that I need to walk more and eat better.  Yes, it pleases me to have an orderly house, and I do feel better when I walk and pay attention to what I eat.

But where's the joy?

I had titled that post Out With The Old.  That is what I wanted to write about.  I started out talking about letting go of old habits.  Then I proceeded to fall right back into my pattern of setting things right.

This realization was stunning.  I wrote Heather an email to thank her:

Dear Heather,
     I have been struggling with depression for months.  It's a cycle that comes and goes and has for most of my life but this time feels different, deeper.  I have been working with my massage therapist and acupuncturist, who told me Friday she thinks it's a crisis of the soul.  I told her that didn't sound good....
     My birthday was Monday and to celebrate, after a lovely brunch with family on Sunday, I did laundry, ironed, updated albums, de-cluttered the house and basically "put everything right"....It held the anxiety at bay because now everything is in order.  I wrote a post about wanting more joy in my life and trying to feel less sad.

     Then I read your post about that very thing, except you connected the two in a way that has been just out of my grasp.  I don't feel joy at creating order any more.  As a child it worked.  As a mother it worked because my kids were there to provide the joyful moments.  The last seven years I have been searching for joy and I have just found more sadness.  I don't even want to put things in order but I didn't know why it helped or what to do instead.

     You have provided a piece of the puzzle that I didn't know was missing.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Since then I have been paying attention.  When do I feel happy?  Dinner with my daughter.  Conversations with friends.  Walks outside with Ken.  Phone calls from my sons.  Photos of my grandson from my daughter-in-law.  Watching a movie.

When do I feel anxious?  When things feel out of my control.  The irony is that when I am aware of it the anxiety actually worsens.  I am grateful for that because it makes me pay attention, especially when I don't want to.  I go through my daily routine pushing feelings aside and "getting things done."  Then in the middle of the night I wake up in a panic that I can't name or find a reason for.  It can take hours to get back to sleep.  This tells me that I'm on the right track in dealing with this now.  These periods of intense anxiety foreshadow change.

I have tried to write about this for days.  I questioned if it sounded like whining or self-pity.  I don't want that.  This is the elephant in the room, even if I'm the only one that can see it.  It is time to put it out there and move past it.

Lost puzzle pieces are rarely found.  This one is a gem that I intend to put to good use.            

Monday, February 17, 2014

Canine Company

Weeks ago my daughter asked me if I would help with "doggie" day care for Mazulah the week of February 10 ~

She doesn't often ask and I am delighted to help when I can.  Mazulah has her own bed at our house, as well as her own dishes and treats, which she knows how to ask for ~ 

As weather reports rolled in it made sense for Zulah to stay at our house for a couple days and for my daughter to stay as well because we're 25 miles closer to her work.  The snow came as promised, and the sleepover was as much fun as it always is ~

We chased the doldrums of mid-winter away, at least for a time.  Thank you, Zu, for being such a gracious guest and welcome companion ~

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Out With The Old

On Friday I called the United Airlines Claims Office in Houston, where every lost item and misdirected piece of luggage is sent.  They can tell me the exact date they received my "claim of loss" for the contents of my suitcase and the "interim claim" for necessities I purchased while in California.  They can't tell me anything else except that it will take ten weeks for my claim to be processed.  Ten weeks puts the date at April 1.   Seems fitting, no?

I called United for two reasons: to make sure Houston had received the faxed paperwork, and to ask them to please take as long as it takes to exhaust every avenue to find my luggage.  The people I talked to were pleasant and helpful and honest.  Each person assured me that my situation is not unusual, that luggage is often found and returned, and that they would much rather find my stuff than pay me to replace it.  So we are of like minds, and that's really the most I could hope for.

It has been interesting to step back and reflect on this situation.  The idea of "lost baggage" has surfaced during acupuncture appointments, as in changing habits and letting go of old stories.  I hold onto things, physical and not, and take care of things, literally and figuratively.  To what end?  And that may well be this year's quest....

Yesterday was my birthday.  I am learning to be more gentle with myself as this day approaches.  I used to set goals to be met by certain birthdates, with some success, although the year I turned 35 I was sorely disappointed that I was still a year from graduating from college.  I had decided years before that that was the magic age to have that particular achievement accomplished. 

I haven't set such a lofty goal since then.

This year my goals are short-term and attainable, as in picking up and clearing off and updating more regularly.  I am walking longer and faster on the treadmill, which tells me that regularity matters there, too.  Drink more water and less coffee.  Eat more vegetables and less sugar.

I have set the intention to find more joy.  My main goal is to feel less sad.

The journey continues....    

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Posey Quilt

This is the strip of fabrics where the project started

Last fall my daughter passed along to me a variety of fabrics in a range of colors and sizes.  Before she started a new job she made tough decisions about what she would have time for, surveyed her stash of material and decided to keep the ones she loved and  knew she would use for projects.  I, in turn, sorted what she handed off to me ~ I had a great time organizing by color and pattern ~ and made decisions about what to keep and what to pass on.  I set aside a strip of fabrics already sewn together and identified other pieces that would complement those colors, all flower patterns.  My last post gave a glimpse of those combinations.  When I told my daughter that the quilt was for her ~ I knew she would like it because she chose the material ~ she told me that she had originally collected those fabrics to make a quilt for me!

I started sewing before Christmas and had the idea for a simple lap quilt.  Life happened and I put the project on hold until after the holidays.  When I returned from California I needed something to work on.  That one strip was joined by three more, and this week I added squares to each end to make the front~

The same size as the back, which is fifteen large squares made of long rectangles~

Pinks and purples and browns with touches of green and gold and aqua~

The cutting and arranging and pinning and sewing~

Have been a welcome distraction and the result is pleasing~

Next I need to decide how to put it together and finish it off.

It's time to move on....

I have been having a hard time.  I have learned that if I rub the bridge of my nose I can delay the onset of tears.  Saturday morning I got in line at the check-out behind a couple with a baby, and I couldn't say a word; it was all I could do to get my groceries on the counter.  I knew this would be hard, but I really didn't "know" how hard it would be to be away from my grandson.  I should have known because two years ago, at a town meeting, I sat behind a woman whose grandson was just born in San Fransisco.  She had been out to visit and had plane tickets to go again. I've learned since that she's rented an apartment out there because she goes for weeks at a time.  At the time I thought that was excessive.  Now?  I wish I could afford to do the same....