Finding new support styles

 

I thought I wasn’t the type to lean on people, but I found myself reeling when that support was lifted.

We are not islands. Why rely on yourself when you can make other people responsible for your health and sanity? They are usually happy to help.

Here is how I’m regaining my balance.

 

 

Old habit: running with a friend

New habit: scheduling remote exercise with a friend

 

I am not especially reliable, especially where exercise is concerned. Having made a promise to a friend is one of the few things that get me out there and moving, and I’m always glad when I have done it.

When isolation began, I really foundered in this area. I was afraid to go outside, I was too depressed to get moving. Exercise videos on youtube were a lifesaver. Doing a video alone is painful and grating and you’re relieved to be done. Doing them with somebody else on videochat makes it hilarious, and you want to do more.

Now I’m pushing my friends to schedule exercise time with me. It’s good for them too, they love it, I’m sure they’re very grateful (heh). Even just going for a run while keeping the phone to my ear and talking to somebody else running, is oddly comforting and connecting. We could both enjoy the beautiful things we saw outside, and describe them to each other. Proximity being no object, I can now run with a friend who lives in Kansas City who I rarely get to see. I have a feeling I’m going to keep doing this even after lockdown is lifted. I have more workout companions than ever!

 

 

Old habit: making cookies with my sister

New habit: making cookies with my siblings over Facetime

 

It’s nice, because more of my siblings can get involved this way. It’s fun to just set your phone on the countertop and get out your ingredients, compare recipes, show off your freshly baked cookies, eat them together.

 

 

Old habit: walking to a cafe and getting a treat

New habit: making myself a special beverage

 

It’s just as gratifying to sit down with your own cold-brew coffee or iced chai latte. There’s a little work involved, but think of the preparation time as a luxury. You don’t get annoyed at the work involved in drawing a bath and lighting up candles, do you?

 

 

Old habit: brush then floss

New habit: floss then brush

 

Yeah, this has no bearing on the topic. It’s just something that I learned. Apparently, if you floss BEFORE you brush, then the gaps are opened up between your teeth, and the fluoride from the toothpaste can get in there and work its magic. This assertion is still being personally tested by me, but it makes sense. Once upon a time, I didn’t believe in fluoride, and my teeth rotted. Now I believe in fluoride. I pray to fluoride every night, I perform the fluoride ritual, and it answers my prayers. In fluoride there is strength.

 

 

Old habit: eat all the bananas as fast as possible

New habit: once they are at perfect ripeness, bananas can go in the fridge

 

Yes, 80% of my coping habits are food-centric. Hush.

 

 

Old habit: spending an entire Sunday with my sister and her family

New habit: calling somebody at least every other day

 

In order to get the same quantity of people-hours into my week, this is necessary. If I skip too many days in a row, I find myself drifting.

 

 

Old habit: when the walls are closing in on me, get out of the house

New habit: turn into the woman from “The Yellow Wallpaper”

 

There is a squirrel in the walls. I have been battling it for months but I’ve been driven to new levels of insanity by its scrabbling and nibbling right above my head. If you see a crazy lady in pajamas stalking her roof with a knife, look away.

Headphones help. Fantasizing squirrel murder helps. These are not healthy strategies. I’m still working on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Still alive

 

Yes, I am still alive! All this isolation blanks out my creativity. I haven’t written or drawn in a long, long time. Part of it was the idea that I had to post something cheerful to help people… but I couldn’t figure out how to write something cheerful. Even on my happiest days, cheerful writing is rare from me. I don’t know how people do it. It’s a mystery…

So I was mentally flatlined for a while there. I’m finally restabilizing, and figure out new coping mechanisms under these conditions.

My cooking game has leveled up a notch, and my house is coming together piece by piece. I remodeled a whole bathroom, it’s the nicest room in the house now and I want to spend all my time there, but my health is too good. The cats have been following me around everywhere and I find myself changing my behavior to suit their desires… they are training me.

 

pizza

 

 

The Bitter Cow

 

There was a cow named Elderflower. She had too much to do. She had to get up at 4 am every day to give milk to the farmer and his family. She had to eat the encroaching weeds from the southeast corner of the field, but it always grew back fast. She had to go in and out of the barn, up and down the hill, back and forth across the field, day in day out. She was exhausted.

One day the dog came trotting up to her. “What’s wrong, Elderflower?” he asked.

“You wouldn’t understand,” the cow said. “I just have so much to do! I’m busy!”

“Busy!” the dog laughed and laughed, rolled on his back laughing until Elderflower felt quite affronted. “Busy!?” He said again when he could breathe. “You don’t have anything to do! The dog has to do everything around here. I have to keep you all and the sheep from wandering into the neighbor’s pasture. I have to come running whenever the farmer calls me. I have to keep the kids from getting hurt, I have to keep the animals from fighting, and I have to run off the coyotes.”

“Pft,” said the cow.

“Alright,” said the dog. “I challenge you then. We’ll swap jobs.”

“Oh, that’s a tired trope,” said the cow.

“Excuses,” the dog muttered, and walked away.

The next day she got up and saw that the night’s rain had made the weeds explode over a quarter of the pasture. She couldn’t take it anymore. “Dog,” she said, “Don’t you think you could help me?”

“Only if you help me,” the dog said.

So the dog dug up her weeds, she kept the cows in line. It was hard to pay that much attention to where they were going, but she managed alright. She saw something that might have been a coyote in the woods, took a run at it until it fled. She almost got lost on her way back, but the sunlight guided her back to the homestead. Then the chickens started fighting, and she had to go break that up.

She was so busy, she forgot to stop for her milking. By the time she realized the discomfort she was in, the farmer had already gone in. Her udders were fit to burst!

“Achh,” Elderflower said. “I missed the milking!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll get the humans,” said the dog. “Lay down, be dramatic. You’re good at that.”

“I hate you,” the cow retorted, but she did as he asked, laid down and lowed like her life depended on it.

The dog went to the door of the little stone farmhouse and barked, barked, barked. Eventually the farmer came to the door and saw the cow. He shook his head, but he gave Elderflower her milking anyway. All the while the children pulled at her ears and poked her face.

“Never again,” Elderflower said as the family walked away with a bucket of milk.

“Did you learn a lesson about positive thinking?” the dog said. 

“No! My life is so terrible. Never again will I miss a milking. I can’t stand the cost. Everything is awful.”

The dog laughed and laughed, until Elderflower kicked a clod of mud on him. He stopped laughing to dodge the clod, but his tail kept wagging, which was just as annoying in its own way.

“I’m going to change your attitude one of these days,” he said as he went to his kennel. “I’ve got a new mission!”

“Never,” the ornery cow replied. “Come back tomorrow and try again. Do your worst!”

She went to the barn and curled up with the rest of the herd. The wind cut through the loose board in her stall, just like it did every night. Somehow, it didn’t feel as cold as it used to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Grandma’s Hands

Another good one from Ivor.

Ivor.Plumber/Poet

I wonder what mum and grandma are thinking

Mum was born after the First World War

A child of the roaring twenties

Then she became a poor teenager, of the great depression

And a young nurse, during the horror’s of a second World War

A time when everyone’s supplies were rationed

Everyone helped each other, when things run out

Everyone knew a son, that been killed in the war

Everyone gave you a soft shoulder to lean on

Everyone shared each others pain

Our parents and grandparents survived

And taught us compassion, and the value of every single life

Ivor Steven (c)  March 2020

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