Learning to unmask hurts …. I’m brave, but I need smiles. Continue reading →
Category / Journey
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
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:
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.
Remember to Breathe
Two days off … I slept. And when I wasn’t sleeping, or listening to TV talk about Covid-19 news, I made art. Words, Paint. Music. Something to fill my spirit with light. Not artificial light of my apartment or workplace, but nature’s light, creativity’s light. I need to move and too often in this time, movement is given only to coping. I am so glad I have art and creativity to remind me. Breathe.
I belong to a number of groups including art, writing and music. These are my favourite ones because they let out my creativity … on the days I allow it space … I can feel life inside me. Worlds bigger than the routine I follow. Keeping these creative things in my life gives and costs me. How is hard to describe…
I had an email recently from a friend leading one of the arts groups. She spoke about reactions during this time of self-isolation; fight or flight being common, but freeze was new to her. It made me think.
Freeze is well known to me and has been for years. Still, I don’t understand. I recognize it lives in the PTSD. I see the ways it shows up and know the pattern, but knowing that has little practical value. I have words I want to share – publish – submit. I make paintings and am learning to accept them as they are – free flowing – awkward, messy, at times (as a friend said today) impish. They want out to play. They want a home. I want to submit them to magazines, sell them to people, see others enjoy the smiles they can bring. Freeze. Creativity, like my attempts at ‘career’ rather than ‘job’ gets hits hard by ‘freeze’. It is a part of my isolation, not just during this time of Covid self-isolation, but all the times PTSD slams doors I venture to open.
Acknowledging the word, my stomach gets queasy and I sense a need to burst into tears. Why remains mystery, even to myself. I try to explain, but it has no meaning, just swirls like colours in the water jar before they turn to grey. At least in saying that, I believe my art friend will see something of my experience.
Thank you to friends who check in, who laugh and share moments online, who post pictures and poems, who refuse to give in to the places we fear. I appreciate you all. I need what I said at the start … I am so glad I have art and creativity (and all of you) to remind me. Live. Laugh. Breathe.
And one day, the colours will dance rather than gray. They will not freeze. They will release into the world taking hope, light, joy.
Cherish the Moments
March 30, covid day number ?? does it really matter what number? It’s hectic and slow all at once. Time is a funny thing. Looking through my ‘saved to be read later’ posts from friends, Facebook and LinkedIn, I found one talking about setting up a business model based on what people are willing to pay for … and working retail, I’m curious.
One of the main things noted is TIME (put into larger font and bolded). We value time … that’s why we want faster, better, more … so at the end we can have TIME. I’ve been watching the movement and flow of people these past few weeks. The panic, scrambling to grab more than the next guy before it’s all gone. The dairy and frozen crew trying to figure out where to put excess items that came in after being cleared out, unpredictable now becomes unshelveable. And what do we do with the wall of toilet paper that appeared yesterday as computer ordering systems try to reorient themselves? That at least can live in the aisles, blocking views for people trying to practice distancing and happening on each other suddenly as they reach a turn. There was talk of bringing freezer trucks to hold overflow.
How is it we moved so quickly from normal to this? Did TIME know, see it coming? Was it always there, just WE didn’t know? Or is TIME something blind, feeling its way, knowing only what’s in approachable distancing at it goes?
Part of me likes this forced slow pace. A little girl in me looks back, remembers when nothing was something to do. When sitting on my porch or in the window … watching … was a quiet moment thing. When walking slowly and nodding at others on the opposite side of the street was a favourite pastime for my grandpa and me. When quietly folding laundry by the TV was an asked for job.
People still come out to my work, pick up the necessary and unnecessary groceries. Some thank me for doing my job. Some say I’m brave. Yesterday a man told me I’m a warrior. Do they know, we often are in the job I do? We see it all. Seemingly simple, working in retail, it’s a multi-layered role I’m proud to fill. Knowing that is something I will thank this time for giving me. I’ve said every day that this brings out the best and worst in us, lets us see what we really are, where our struggles lie and how we handle them.
I have an advantage, if you can call it that – crisis is a known place for me. Remnants of both the fears and strengths that moved me day by day under abuse are still there; the worst hopefully fading, the best being polished to be pulled out in time of need. And there hidden among them, a jewel – pride in knowing I stand strong in the midst of crisis, leading others even in the ‘simple’ job I do, letting my ability to stay calm and smile bring hope and light to a place that feels dark and frightening to so many. It makes me smile. I am proud of my job.
Today and tomorrow, like yesterday will bring things I didn’t see coming. It may bring things I don’t want to do, but yesterday and the yesterdays before taught me well. I’ll measure the time like a slow song, continue to do my job well, and smile to bring light to the moment. The little things we do become great things if we do them enough.
I’ll remember. Live slowly. Don’t rush. Cherish the moments.
July 3, 2019 at 10:10 am I started this topic – only a heading, no more. Sometimes you need to drop a line and see what comes. Maybe that’s what I was doing. Maybe I was wise enough to know I’d need the bait, something to catch me and pull me in. A word, a question.
Yesterday, i saw one of those signs … this one had a bible verse on confidence in things hoped for … looking forward with a sense of expectation, anticipation. As long as what we anticipate is good, the world seems a safe and happy place. It’s only when our hope is skewed that how we engage with life goes awry.
I live in both places; expectation both welcomes and pushes me as I move towards something desired or a challenge I’m willing to face. Hope isn’t easy. Sometimes I have been disappointed. Had someone suggest I’m not living the best ‘today’ I was designed to achieve. I’ll think about it. There is some truth there. I’ve stayed stuck too long in unhealthy places and bypassed some offered opportunities. But, I like who I am, and am willing to work with where I am today. I hope I’ve learned some things. I know I’ve pushed myself beyond comfort the last few years, and this year actively sought discomfort in achieving writing goals – small steps, practicing balance.