TO BE OR NOT TO BE

It is almost April. How and when did we get here? I have not had a moment of peace since I don’t know when. We had all that trouble with the neighbour next door in the fall. When did I not have trouble with her since she’s moved in 10 plus years ago? But this time, it was enough to call the Police Liason for help. After that I had a small corridor of peace. In December Sheba had her ear hematoma and infection. It was to doggy ER twice and a total of 5 visits in 2 weeks and a bill of $600 plus. The money was the least of it. It was watching Sheba suffering with discomfort and anxiety. It was 2 weeks of little sleep and worry. But she did come out of it with a tiny crimp at the tip of her floppy ear.

Christmas was peaceful and January uneventful. I don’t have a clear memory of it. But came February, my mother came down with shingles on her left forehead. We caught it soon enough but it has been hellish. It’s one thing to watch your dog suffer, it is another to watch your mother. Every time I think it will ease up, it’s just a tease. So I should learn not to expect it to. Maybe then things will get better if I have no expectations and keep quiet. Though I have been accompanying her to her appointments and been vigiliant about possible complications to her eye, it has happened.

I do not have self blame for not doing a good enough job. But I am feeling a lot stressed and stretched now going into the 7th week. Even with the Coronavirus pandemic going on and the state of emergency declared in this province, I’ve managed to do a phone call appointment with her doctor. Then with my mother, an in person appointment at the office because by now her vision in her left eye is very blurry. She could see a tree but not its branches. She can see my face but not my features. She could not do the eye chart at all. It was the first time I saw her face crumble.

The good news inspite of all this is we got in to see someone the next morning at the Eye Centre at City Hospital. We were reassured that this is treatable. It will be reversed. But there’s always a but. She has to be on antiviral drug 3x/daily for 2 weeks and then a smaller dose once/day for a month. Plus a steroid eye drop 4 times a day for a month. If you know my mother, pills are a big problem. She has so much sensitivity to everything, even tylenol if she takes more than 2/day. She always makes it sound the side effects are worse than death. And who am I to argue? She’s the one feeling them. Maybe it’s just the Chinese way. So what do I do when she complains she’s having side effects and should she keep taking the pills – on a Saturday evening during a pandemic?

Well, I did the *!#^fk twirl around the kitchen island a few times. Then I called the pharmacy at Safeway. The pharmacists there are my best friends now. He looked everything up and said those side effects are really not for that drug. Then he advised maybe I called 8-1-1 and report it. I phoned my mother to check her symptons again. She was adamant her symptoms were drug related and not virus related. Next move, page the doctor on call. She was prompt in answering and helpful with advice. Which was more important – my mother’s eyesight or the side effects? And with those symptoms it doesn’t sound like the coronavirus. It was not necessary to call 8-1-1.

That was the question I put to my mother. She is taking her pills. We got into a squabble. I lost my temper. She said I over reacted. I needed not have gone all to that length. She was just asking my opinion what to do. I reminded her that I am not a doctor. Any answer I give her could be the wrong one. She has to make a judgement about how bad those ‘side effect’ are and her vision. The good news is her vision is a little better and the pain is a little better with the antiviral. I reminded her that she could also call her other daughter, who is a pharmacist even though she is busy and there’s a pandemic.

So, I’ve laid out my anguish here. I was really feeling squeezed between a rock and a hard place. I probably shouldn’t have lost it with my mother. I’m stressed and stretched. She’s in pain and probably anxiety which she denies it. She said she is not worried and very calm. But she did yelled at me and I yelled back. But I’m still the one looking out and after her. This morning Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be soliloquy’ was playing in my head. My wish at the moment was to be extinquished and disappear without drama and fanfare – like a firefly. It is painful to be in this world. I feel as if I’m everyone’s keeper and have no self. I guess I am a bit of a drama queen. It is not the Chinese way but it feels good to get it off my chest. I’ve never claim to be a good Chinese. I’m just flipping sad.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

 

 

 

USE IT OR LOSE IT

August 11

Surprisingly, I had a whiff of energy last evening. Not to waste it, even though it was not my time of doing things, I took the vacuum stick and sucked up the dog hair on the floor. It did not take all that long to do the kitchen, dining, living and the sun room. Next, I tackled  the dirty screened window in the sunroom. I’ve been looking at it all summer and haven’t made any move on it. My energy is like that. I know it and learning to work with it.

My brain is such that it gets overwhelmed easily. I have to work in the one-inch frame that Anne Lamott speaks of and E.L. Doctorow’s ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ They’re referring to writing but I apply it to everything. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a book full of such wisdom.

I am happy that I started this conversation in the morning. I am happy I paid the house insurance this morning. The afternoon has been a bit of a struggle. I am feeling the seasonal bad, but not sad. I can’t think at all. Doing a simple sewing project is difficult. Trying to figure how to measure and cut on the bias felt like doing brain surgery. Having the right equipment and tools helped alot. In the end, I got my bias strips cut and sewn to specification. But somehow one end ended up in my cup of coffee. So now it’s rinsed off and hung up to dry.

Sheba and I have been out and back from our walk. Nothing exciting except I did dropped the roll of doggy bags and didn’t even know it. It was lying on the sidewalk, waiting for me on our return. I think I should call it a day. I should make a cuppa, put up my feet and read my murder mystery. It’s always good therapy for my foggy brain.

CHAOS AND ART

August 2

It’s a hot one today – 33 degrees Celsius at present. It seems like a good day to do laundry to hang outside. The mattress protector I hung a short while ago seemed almost dry so I put in a load of sheets. I’m sure the protector will be dried to a crisp by the time the load is done. Sheba is underfoot, fussing for her walk, but it is hot, hot, hot. It is not a good idea. We will be burnt to a crisp. I hope no one has to work outside in the heat.

I’m watching the cars whizzing by on Preston Avenue. Sheba finally settle on her pillow. We are fairly comfortable with the furnace fan on. I have my glass of water nearby. After a cool beer, I’m feeling mellow. I’m conserving energy, not working up a sweat. Everything not an emergency can just be. They can keep for a rainy day.

August 6

Today is that rainy day, though it was a short one this morning. It was not a wise decision to keep everything for a rainy day. My head has been in a fine kettle today. The clouds and dark skies gave me the willies. Clearly it was not a day for brain surgery. I found some solace in the light from the kitchen window and the fluorescent light above the sink. It was also soothing folding towels though the pile of it was daunting at first. It’s the taking of one at a time, smoothing and folding it that helped clear a bit of the mess in my head.

 

Now it’s almost at the end of the day. Seems like it took me all day to do very little. I still have a whole mess on the diningroom table. When didn’t I have one, eh? Having the fridge go on us didn’t help. Finding one to fit the same space was impossible. That meant making the space fit a new fridge. Things had to come out of a cupboard in order to shorten it. The dining room table is always handy for that. Everything seems to find their way there. It’s probably not that bad but my head can’t deal with sorting or looking at it.

I have paid the bills though and made the 2 must-make phone calls. It was a struggle, making myself sit still at the desk to do all that. Needless to say, my desk area is still a flipping jungle. I’m not saying that’s who I am, but it is how I am now. I’m trying. I’ve slipped. I will again and again. I will try and try again to get back on track. I will work on it tomorrow. In the chaos and brain thing, I still was able to create a little bit of art today. Hurray for me.

SLIP SLIDING AWAY

Nowadays I find myself asking the question of for what purpose to many things. The biggest being: For what purpose was I born? Then there are those endless smaller ones. Why am I doing anything? I feel as if I’ve lost purpose and heart.  I am Alice falling down the rabbit hole. And so now I am tapping out my anguish bland state of mind. If I don’t, would my mind have the energy to work up a frenzy?

There’s seems to be a purpose for words though, for the tapping of the keyboard. It feels much like a resuscitation of my will, my heart and mind. It is a mystery how it works. Perhaps there’s acupressure points on my fingertips. Whatever and however, I am grateful for a little revival of my spirit. I don’t quite have enough passion to work up a sweat yet. Who knows where the next tap will lead. The point is, I’m moving some body parts. Fingers count. Talking about fingers, I do have some good news. The pain is gone from my left hand. Hallelujah! I’ve had it since May – 10 months ago. It’s almost enough reason to feel joy.

Dang! February is hard. There’s more warnings for extreme cold temperatures for the next while. We did not really feel it today. It being so calm and sunny. Sheba and I went for our twice daily walks. She even hollowed out a nest in the snow and laid in it in the afternoon. Perhaps she thought she was an Eskimo.


It is another day, another cold one. It was -31 Celsius this morning. Driving across the bridge, I could not see far ahead, not beyond to the other side. The mist from the river and the exhaust from the cars occluded everything. I was thinking of the cold but not about minding it. Instead, I felt grateful that I’m not in other parts of the world that have floods, mud slides, volcanoes, earthquakes and the likes. What’s a little cold? I was sitting snug and warm in my car. I have warm clothes. I was not suffering at all.

The moment of gratitude changed my flat mood and attitude. My thoughts affect how I feel but I do have command of what I think. I can see the glass half full or I can see the glass half empty. I don’t have to think of or see the glass at all. I can just watch my thoughts in my mind like a ticker tape parade. I can watch and let them go, forming no opinions and attaching no emotions. It’s a breakthrough moment.

Breakthrough moments are catalysts for change. I shall not waste it. There are already many moments today when I feel myself slipping, sliding back into old habitual thoughts and feelings. I feel the familiar tugs but I am showing a backbone and resisting. I will not be slip sliding away. I will not be disappearing.

I FOUGHT MYSELF AND I WON

January 4, 2019  4:41 pm

I have heard that I’m my own worse enemy. It could be true. I’m always wrestling with myself, getting myself all knotty over nothing alot of the time. Life shouldn’t have to be that difficult or complex. It does not need micro managing. A little chaos now and again keeps it fresh and interesting. I need to loosen up, have a little fun and just do the best I can. Nobody is judging me except myself.

How am I going about doing it? Well here is the plan. It’s not well-laid but it’s a start. Movement/action is the most important thing. Otherwise I’ll be crouched and frozen at the starting line till I fall over.

  •  Stop judging and comparing myself. It is probably the most difficult thing.
  • Try not to fall off the plan. If I do, I need to get back on or adjust if it’s not a good one.
  • the 3 musts – sleep, diet, exercise
  • Do Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
  • Tend to things as they arise. Do not leave them for the morrow.
  • Read The Four Agreements again.

These are some of the things in my plan. They are enough for now. More can be too much and overwhelming. These grey wintry days are hard for me and my moody personalities. I can’t see my evil twins. They come from the inside out, erupting from within. I am without warning. But I am a little more cognizant now but often I forget till after the damage is done.

My moody sisters can stall me, leaving me open mouthed and stammering. What the hell? It takes a little while before things click and I take back control.  But sometimes they do steamroll over me. I’m flattened and down without recognizing their handiwork. It is those times I fall off the wagon and lack the will/strength to climb back on. What is the use, was my mantra.

I try not to say that or other negatives any more. Words are powerful and what I tell myself and others matter. I have to change and sing a different tune.

 

 

SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS

December 23, 2018  3:37 pm

We had some sun today. It was a nice relief from the grey and dark. Now the sunlight is weak and watery like tepid tea. It gives me an insipid melancholia. Is there another kind? I should really stop talking about my moods but that’s what’s foremost on my kinds’ minds. It’s what we brood on as if we could or hope to hatch it into joy. Joy to the world and Falalalala.

Don’t take me too seriously though. I am not despairing or crying into my soup. Not yet anyways. I’ve baked up a storm the last few days – bread, cookies, cinnamon buns and Sheba’s doggy biscuits. Today I’m stitching up a couple more motifs on my tablecloth. Busy hands are happy hands. I’ve had my troubled times but I’ve never at a stage I’m wringing them.

December 25, 2018 10:47 am

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s lyrics are running through my head this morning

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

Yes, this is Christmas and what have I done? I think I’ve found the peace I needed. I’m feeling it for today at least. I had to let go of the ‘wanting, working on, fixing, making things right, doing the right thing’ mentally. I had to let go of everything and just be as best as I could. It has been a hard lesson for me. It’s difficult to learn that I’m not that powerful or that I have a say in everything.  It’s wonderful to let go of all that assumed responsibility, all that weight. I’m feeling almost as light as a feather today.

December 26, 2018 @2:15 pm

So this is Boxing Day. Lunch is over and I’m feeling ever so lazy. I thought I have a whole bunch of good words to impart but what I really want to do is just nap. I will struggle here a bit. Then it’s time to feed Sheba and go for our walk. Not really looking forward to it but we must. It’s like cleaning that oven this morning after the day of spatchcocked turkey. It was a mess! Opening the oven door, I want to slam it shut again. BUT – the impossible to clean was possible. A lot of elbow grease and persistence. It’s almost sparkling clean, racks and all.

That is what I have to remember. The whole picture is really ugly till you break it into do-able little segments. I wondered afterwards how I did it. Another thing to remember is don’t think, just do it. And it will be done. AND the turkey turned out moist, delicious with crunchy skin. Worth it!

 

 

TREPIDATIONS AND OBLIGATIONS

December 20, 2018  11:13 am

Time has a tricky way of sneaking away on me when I’m not careful. It’s not a bad thing if I’m sidetracked by something useful. I was – looking up my nephew’s YouTube video of how to cook a delicious turkey in a short time.

3:30 pm

Where did the day go? I am tired and there’s Sheba to walk yet.  The day is good. Got lots done even though I was sidetracked by YouTube. First it was the turkey. Then there was Bernina sewing videos but they’re good and useful. I have a few minutes here to breathe and tap. The chocolate chip cookies are done. We’re waiting for the doggy biscuits to come out of the oven. Maybe another 15 minutes or so.

December 22, 2018  11:09 am

Sheba and I have been on a walk or two since I’ve been here. When I leave, it is difficult to come back unless I make a point of it. So here I am, cleaned, relaxed and warmed by my morning swim. Wanting to get there was not an easy, natural thing. The morning was dark and uninviting. I headed out with reluctance and trepidations. But I had the memory of the peaceful blue of the pool, the ropes of the lanes buoying gently in the warm soothing water. I felt the aches of my stiff unyieldy body. I could see myself wading in and gliding off in its warmth.

It was no surprise that I was the only one there this morning. I felt good that I showed up. The lifeguard was a lanky youth, his first day on the job, he said. I hoped I gave him a sense of purpose. He wasn’t guarding just an empty pool. I was a potential someone to be rescued. I used to feel uncomfortable to be the only swimmer, that I was taking up someone’s time. Now I enjoy the idea that the pool was just for me.

Murky thoughts crept into my mind as I went up and down the lanes. I was there working out while the rest of the world was busy with their lives, family, friends making ready for all the happiness of Christmas. Thoughts of being a loser floated in as I blew bubbles in the water and raising my face to take a breath. Never mind that I’ve never enjoyed all the frenzies of shopping for perfect gifts and all the obligations of being loudly happy and comfortable in the traditions not of my culture.

8:00 pm

It is the evening of the day and I’m feeling its melancholia. I tell myself it’s a fake mood like fake news. It’s not real. It’s my brain malfunctioning. It’s not my fault. It is the time of the day when my body is winding down to ready for bedtime. Goodnight to one and all. Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

 

EXPLOSION AND IMPLOSION

December 14, 2018  4:32 pm

Afternoons are harder than mornings, especially December afternoons. December mornings are so dark but at least I look forward to the sun rise. There’s the anticipation and eagerness in the waiting. Afternoons in the after 3 pm slot, the sun at its best is like tepid tea, weak and past its shine. Often I find my feelings sinking with its setting. Oh, but I am like a well-trained dog. I can still haul ass with Sheba for our daily walk. Does not matter that each step feels like pulling teeth. I count each one till we’re home again and be couch potatoes.

I wonder at why things are difficult when they’re not really. I can not make sense of it so I try to do at least one thing/per day that I’ve been putting off. Today it was putting away the yogurt maker. It’s not physically hard but my mind haven’t been able to cooperate. I’ve been looking and walking around it for days now. But it’s finally been wiped down and put in its place. I struggle with stupid things like that. Now I’m talking about it.

But at least I am talking. Can you imagine holding all those stupid and crazy things inside. I would explode. I have exploded and imploded. It was traumatic. I will never do that again.

December 16, 2018  9:07 am

I am baking bread this morning. Waiting for the water to cool enough before adding the yeast and honey. One time I didn’t wait long enough and we had lots of dead dough for doggy biscuits for Sheba and pizza crust. It was still very tasty -delicious as a matter of fact. However, it’s not enough for me to repeat the process.

It’s a good that I have ‘chores’ to do. If I didn’t, I’m apt to give in to my natural inclination of lounging and moping. I feel as energetic and ambitious as an Energize Bunny with dead batteries. I wouldn’t even give one beat on my drum.

December 18, 2018  10:03 am

My batteries are not completely dead. I’m not moving very fast but I’m moving steadily, one foot in front of the other. My left brain is talking to my right brain. You can do it, so just do it! It listens and does its part. I’m happy that my yin/yang twins are working together. I’m trying to do do all the right things, not avoiding the difficult stuff and creating more elephants in my room. I cleared the table, sort the unmentionables and sweep out the dust bunnies hiding in corners. It does clear my brain and unload the heavies. The clean laundry is folded and put away. Soup is on in the Instant Pot. I hope I will have some juice for creative fun later.

MY DEFECTIVE HARD DRIVE

December 12, 2018  8:23 am

We’re steadily heading towards the shortest day of the year. It’s no surprise that it’s dark out and the house lights are on. I know I’m harping on the darkness. It’s my brain. It’s better I ventilate and let out the darkness. Hoarding it inside would only make it grow.

7:57 pm

I can’t say that the day was a success or that it went badly. It was heavy and sluggish. I just put one foot in front of the other and proceeded forward ho.  It helps to have a routine. I move according to program. I vacuumed as much as I had time before leaving for my exercise class this morning. I’m finding it very therapeutic, doing something that is needed instead of squandering the time away. It’s surprising how much one can do in minutes. It gives me structure and time later to work on something or languish as desired.

I struggled through the step aerobics even with an instructor shouting out instructions. My brain is malfunctioning and I am not feeling exactly gleeful and lightfooted. I did the best I could. Sometimes I adjusted my speed, repeat times 2 instead of 3. What the hell. I was moving and that’s what counts. I don’t have to enjoy it. My brain is not cooperating. It is not my fault. I still sweated. Does that count? I still walked Sheba in the afternoon. I kept thinking of taking a shorter walk the whole time. But I didn’t.

Today hasn’t been a ton of fun but I’m not crying either. It is what it is. This, too, shall pass. I’m still upright, looking normal and doing what I normally do. I’m reading a thriller, The Girl From Home. It’s exactly what my brain needs, something easy to grab onto. I tinkered a bit with my free motion embroidery after lunch. After working on machine embroidery for awhile, it is harder to go back to. I have to reset how I see and make a picture. I have to wing it on my own. No computerized motiff, no perfect programmed stitches. I am the computer, one without a program and a defective hard drive.

MY PRETEND SWIM

These cloudy wet autumn days are starting to get on my nerve! Sheba is getting on that one nerve that’s left, too. Every time I get up, I feel like I’m getting a FBI escort. Most of the time I’m just heading to the kitchen to get a cuppa. She’s thinking food. Me also if I was telling the truth.

I can do absolutely nothing about the weather. I sure feel its changes though – summer, autumn, winter and spring. I’m a sensory being. I feel all the changes of temperature, pressure and probably even wind velocity. I probably have more feelers than most people. You would think I’m a spider with all these feelers. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m only aware of the disadvantages right now – the aches, pains, fatigue, sleepiness and then there’s the moods.

The advantages are maybe coping has pushed me to investigate the whys, wherefores and hows to have a good life despite everything. I’ve been an avid reader of anything and everything pertaining to depression, chronic pain, SAD, nutrition, supplements, mindfulness, etc. I’ve eased up a bit in the last few years. I’m spending more time dabbling with my paints and sewing machine. Being engaged in meaningful and rewarding activities take my mind off those nagging and distressful symptoms of pain and anxiety. I must be producing those feel good endorphins with my paint brushes and Bernina.

These days, I try to think of solutions instead of staying in my pit of misery. I didn’t make it to my Saturday morning swim yesterday. I did today even though I felt like hell. I felt green with total body pain and fatigue. I didn’t voiced any declarations the night before in case I couldn’t live up to it. To make it a successful mission, I had to plan for success. I packed my gym bag with all my necessities way ahead. When the time came, I just had to walk out the door with it. I eliminated excuses and delays. There was no searching for my shampoo, goggles, earplugs, etc.

I didn’t plan for an Olympic swim today. It was just a splash or two. It was just to wet and loosen up my body. It was just a pretend swim. And that’s what it was – 6 lengths up and down the pool. Then a few minutes in the whirlpool. Mission completed. I stopped and visited my mother on the way home. She fed me goji soup and gave me some Chinese pastries given to her from her friends. I don’t say no to my mother when she offers me her soup. I am happy that she is still able to make it. I can’t say no either when she gives me stuff. That’s my mother – giving.