Uncertainty

Certainty. Words. Ideas. I’m always curious. Tilt at will. I love etymoligy.com, the story of words, of their history. But sometimes what I seek is less clear, a bit uncertain. Chasing it, I get stuck.

Day trips ideas this summer. I feel resistant. In the midst of Covid and the amount of self isolating I do, coming home after the many unknowns of work, I’m just not sure I want to take on those places. Knowing has never felt so exhausting.

For me, that’s a strange place. I spent 30 years researching, knowing: deafness, autism, surgeries. A constant flow of decisions to be made for my son. I went at them with every ounce of energy I had. I learned a new language (ASL), made many unexpected connections (hospitals, therapists, agencies), drove to a different town for a preschool geared to both Deaf and hearing, then moved to another community when he entered kindergarten in one of the provincial schools for the Deaf.

Exhausting in the moment, these things all upped my energy and activated my curiosity and love of puzzles. I threw myself into believing he would catch hold of the things I was teaching and run with them. There were unknowns. Uncertainty was just part of the journey.

Lately, I watch others struggle with uncertainty. It feels heavy. An unseen weight pushing in so we cannot breathe. Blocking our way so we cannot move or get around it. Our sense of time has tipped, an unknown pattern whose end we can’t predict. Days and weeks drag. There is no normal, just the stretched out bits taking their run at us. Statistics bombard. No matter how we graph it, the ends have their way.

I guess I’m left with this, I’ve been through uncertainty before and I’ll do it again. Uncertainty is an ongoing journey. I may not have every resource yet, but when I needed them for my son, friends, family and my own curiosity found a way.

Certainty. Uncertainty.

I choose to believe, stubbornly if necessary, that what I need for this round will find a way.

Time

It’s always here. Waiting

A thought, 7 days ago according to whatever tracks my writing.

Today, I’m starting with a thought from a fellow artist. Slow down. This year has taught me a lot about slowing down. It’s strange to say. Slow sounds out of place given my job running between customers to wipe surfaces and keep us safe. Running. Is that a form of waiting? Quick movements, telling customers to wait. It’s an odd thought. I guess it’s both. I used to say that a lot about getting things done when I was younger, especially about Jacob things. Appointments, workers, school things. They were all hurry up and wait.

But this morning, going slow, it’s intentional. I lay in bed, made plans for coffee with a friend tomorrow morning and another on the weekend. I read notes in my journal and wondered again how to organize my memoir. Whether to start my next online course today, how to write a spoken word piece for this afternoon’s workshop (what was I thinking!) and followed my friend’s art advice. Slow down.

Draw what you see. I did.

Morning. At it’s best. Taken slow.

Time. Waiting.

Something I notice when I approach things slowly, there is a space that opens up in me. A sense of clarity. The words move aside and a picture forms, and sometimes just the space. Waiting.

Maybe I did learn something from all those years. Jacob’s appointments, working on skills, words, signs, connections. It was all hurry up and wait. Frustrating at the time, but looking back we did well. He needed the time. I need time now. I’m too used to hurrying. Need to let that go.

Draw. And draw things out. See the lines and spaces. Let the image form in its own way. Maybe life can copy art. Line by line.

A reminder to slow down. If time can wait, I can wait.

Look. See. Breathe.

Wait.

Connection

Photo (c) 2020 Margreet Kuypers, used by permission

I wrote the following and gave it a day to breathe. Rough starts don’t determine the end. Learning to speak truth, I’m discovering the good people who care about me.

The day began with words, as it often does, struggling with fears and the prospect of days off facing them. I continued to make notes throughout as I often do. It’s good for reflecting.

Make myself get out of bed, eat something, write out a gratitude list for a workshop. Tell myself I will do these things. I am depressed. I need to acknowledge it. I want to practice drawing, paint something for fun, write in my journal. Edit a section of memoir, poem or song. Play my guitar, even just one song. Call a counselor or friend.

Depression slows time, drags it out, pushes sleep like a pillow at my face. I can’t stay here. I push back with activity. That works some days. Others not at all. I don’t like this place. I carry it to work at times and the weight is crushing.

Work covers bills. It has been a safe place for two years. Fighting depression, I depend on interaction. Most days, it helps. Lately it’s more complicated and this week made me lonely. I need to keep an eye on how I feel.

At the beginning of our lock down, when lines and limits were first established, shock took charge. I know this place. Crisis and abuse for years, my body on high alert watching for danger, keep others safe, push away anything else but focus, stay focused.

This crisis is less now. It’s becoming familiar. I don’t have shock to help me cover emotions with necessity. Coping becomes harder. Work is safe, but brings an element of isolation. Self Check Out is work done mostly alone. It can be busy, but also lonely. It has run the gamut the past six weeks. At the moment, I don’t have panic to create an edge. I do worry about contact, still tell people stand back. It’s easy to forget. Weather warming, I spend days serving couples and families, people talking about homes and gardens, all the details of life shared. A quieter crisis. It sounds stupid. I miss those things even though I know I am better away from the abuse. I hate alone, but it’s life at the moment, so I live stuck between my two boxes. Work and home.

Sharing my mood on Facebook, a friend offered a walk (appropriately social distanced). An hour meandering old streets, by water, old houses, tall trees. We stopped at points to take photos, reflective, social, just for fun. Water and shadows, movement and moods. We caught up on life and longing. Processing our current state of suspension, our observations on ways we, and others, cope or don’t as we navigate needs and wants.

End of day, I finished writing this, most of my hoped for activities done and space for contemplation of what’s to come. I’m grateful for friends reaching out, for time, walks and opportunities to hug a tree. Yes. There is still life left to be lived. Alone is part reality, part state of mind. And a little connection goes a long way.

Life is good.

 

Allow Peace

In my building, there’s no beauty outside my windows, just a parking lot. I’m one of the few who don’t have at least a chair on the balcony. At home, I had chairs front and back, both decks. Nothing fancy; simple plastic chairs my son painted green out front and a basic metal and glass patio set out back, umbrella barely hanging on as it rusted around the base.

I’ve never been good at Martha Stewart, Feng Shui or Hygge. I’m more give me a step to sit on, a patch of sunlight and birdsong, a table covered in paints, brushes and water jugs. I definitely do not do the windowsill decorations that neighbours take so much joy in creating. A few I admire. Mostly, I stop and look out towards the farm to our north. I jokingly tell people I may move into the hallway as it has my favourite view.

Admitting that I miss the views I enjoyed at my house is sad. I’ve been realizing that with more strength of emotion lately; how much I miss. I miss my spring garden with its beautiful bulbs. Butterflies, bees and ants, many birds and every year a robin who would sit on the kitchen windowsill and say hi. I miss the backyard. It was a mess. Just a garden-covered rock hill whose plants I couldn’t keep nice. I took a better run at it in the years before neck and shoulder injuries stole the enjoyment, but it was beyond me. Maybe if I could have paid for help? Maybe.

Martha Stewart, Feng Shui and Hygge assume willingness to live in your space. I have so much trouble doing that, worked too long at believing where I lived wasn’t mine to enjoy. Miss my house. I could almost let a little Hygge happen there if I still had it, but here. Here is still far from me.

I met a lovely woman when I first moved here, and miss her since she moved away. She had the most beautiful things in her apartment, all laid out in Hygge style. Her rooms had the same directional space as mine, but felt so different. It mystified me. I loved being there for the softness of her couch, the simplicity of her table and other furniture, the colours, and lights, everywhere tiny lights danced on surfaces and hid among her other decorations. Her apartment was so peaceful.

She was brave. When she found herself alone, she decided to take a firm stand on out with the old and in with the new. She purged completely. What she had now was all her. Where she lived told that story. Every piece of furniture, while inexpensive, was something she had chosen for this place. Every decoration, all of her kitchen appliances, art, tiny lights hidden in tree branches, the colours and positions … none of it was accident. It was all her and designed to help her be at peace. I enjoyed going there just to sit and breathe.

I’ve been here two years. I don’t find mine comfortable yet, it has a few spots, but I’m still working at it. Past things live too large. I can’t get rid of them. They aren’t the things that can go. Not yet. Later maybe, but for now they are here, and I live in the nook and crannies of my art space … a table, a chair, bookcases and a window looking out onto cars in the lot. It has to do. Creativity only needs an opening to exist.
Creativity happens in the little things, finds life in surprises. When I get the chance, I walk the halls. I look to see what people put in the windows. I look out over the fields to my farm. I look to see if anything living comes to visit. I look for the peace I had with my friend. I try to find some Hygge even without her here.

And so I stopped, looked, took in the scene. The tiny window layout had that sense of calm and comfort. I took a picture because it framed my farm so nicely. Because on that day, walking the halls, that window, that scene made me smile and there are times I need to remember.

We are all still isolating. I don’t walk the hall often at the moment. I don’t visit neighbours, though I hear other voices at times and occasionally see people coming and going. Being inside without connection is a strange feeling. I miss connection. At work, I’m surrounded by shoppers. Standing on circles. Marking distance. Moving back to lines on the floor for price matching or asking for help. Stay back. Keep away. It isn’t really connection. Little conversation happens beyond how can I help and thank you for being here. Being here. It’s a big deal. Existing. Doing. Being. It’s tiring. At times I walk between me and work. Stare at the same things. Breathe. Look for peace. When I find it, I take a picture. I want to remember.

Remembering is one way of coping with being. Learning the things that let me smile, breathe, find peace. This is a long journey. I take the picture and hold to the memories when they come. Allow peace … and Breathe.

Time/Wasted

This, a few days ago. A little wasted time births poetry from tired mind.

I
Weeping, the face of your brightness now obscured, beauty in despair
Aranea glistens as frosted morning fades


II
Within the grey, eyes still bright … stars remember the glory of the day … ah morning, come softly into the quiet of our dreams


III
I pale as stagnant waters puddle behind my eyes, tired dregs of longing, th3se yesterdays and tomorrows struggle in endl3ss eddies, desperate for release

Intangible

Instagram is becoming a closer friend. For quite a while, I had the app on my phone but seldom looked, even at posts from friends. 

Lately, I’m posting pictures …. paintings actually …. reflecting moods in my off hours. At home, after work, before work, alone is too much. I need something tangible to ground me.  So much of this time hurts the intangible. I ache not knowing how to fill it. 

I paint, write, email. I phone. I struggle.

Today’s painting reflects the weight I feel. And strangely, the lightness of being alone within it. 

 

Isolation

It has been a strange month. Isolation is all around us. Whether at home or work, I feel it deeply. There is a weight to it. The smells are louder. I’m allergic/hypersensitive to the cleaners we use at work. Benadryl helps, but not completely. I was given a mask by a lovely lady in town. I’m wearing it, realizing it may do nothing against germs, but it creates a  buffer between me and the wipes, sprays and continual cleaning. 

I live in a place of in between. I’ve lived here before, but that was more abuse and fear of the tangible, approachable implications. You could see and hear it coming. This is different. Everything looks the same, well nearly. There are the lineups, blank spots on store shelves, less cars on the road, so much more quiet to the day when I sit here listening to the simple sounds outside. Dogs bark, they must be walked. Some cars pass by, there are almost no sirens. I noticed that last week or the one before. It startled me, hearing a siren go past and I suddenly realized it was an anomaly to my now usual day. Before I’d hear at least two or three each day heading somewhere. We must be safer locked inside. I hope we’re learning the lessons that slower provides.

The first week or two at work were chaos. Angry, pushy, at times long distance and self important shoppers demanding things I could not give. My body remembers and shifted gears. Within a day, I noticed it … the alarm of crisis in action … I was perfectly calm and steady.  Aware, heightened awareness, attentive and ready for whatever came. I moved with speed and accuracy between my self check area and the door. I shifted into teacher mode – Jacob mode – and was giving prompts with encouragement, focusing all our attention (mine and the customers) to the task of keeping the flow. Instruction mingled with story, I wove connections and got smiles. We were a team. Back and forth I went, encouraging, thanking them … three out, one in, get the flow, break congestion at the tills, switch gears, one out one in, thank you for helping. On and on. 

 Yesterday it was one month, exactly one month since my other job closed. Medical. We had to. In that time, my life consists of the constant back and forth between store and home, store and home. I work as much as I can, pick up shifts to make up for the emptiness January and February fed my bank accounts. I feel guilty appreciating the opportunity to work and make it up. I shift between high and low, distance and alone. It’s an odd little melodrama I play out all alone. Its peaks and valleys are fine some days, but others the fog rolls in and I barely cope. In the good moments, between low and high, I write and I paint. Let my body share the distress with a tangible medium. My only real contact besides the cleaning surfaces, and they give me nothing back. 

My goal, for now, try to write what wants to come. Then try to write what needs to come. And try to write the things I planned and struggle to get out.  Here. Instagram. Facebook and email groups. Lift my head, look and see, let it out. Share me. 

For today, a link. I’ll post them here too when I have a moment to remember how it work. Right now. Find food. Pack lunch. Head to work. 

ART of LIFE in this ISOLATION:

Painting emotions this month Inner ‘isolation’. https://www.instagram.com/p/B_IQX2NAHo4/?igshid=1h7nr4c6zpd92

Reflection

pexels-photo-405238

pexels-photo-405238

As today is one of my down days (non work days), I slept.  When I woke I sent a brief note to an art group keeping each other company through emails … and wrote this:

Poem / Reflection

A cup of tea to toast the day and hope to wash my yesterday whose isolated state was bathed in lysol-laden gestures drawing hope upon the air and touching light on momentary contacts I hope we do not share.

All stop and start and wait and run exhausts my inner gears. Ah rest, you’re welcome,  though in bursts a little hard to bear. I have forgot, but toast and tea and quiet gives me time to think and stare at mental notes and images; reflect upon them here.

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