It’s to Laugh

I bet you think you’ll never laugh again. Well, guess what, you can.
I am fortunate because I have friends who find humor in life and in themselves. They cheer me and help me heal. Sometimes their humor is a bit irreverent, but that cheers me too, because I know they love me. One dear friend who lost her husband a year after Howard died, said to me, “What’s up with all these men dying? They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to!”
I try to enjoy every encounter where humor is likely to surface. I was with friends one day discussing black snakes. These snakes are harmless to us and they eat pesky rodents, but they have an unnerving habit of coming inside. My friend asked her husband what he would do it he found a black snake under the sofa. He said, “Place an ad, ‘House for sale fully furnished’”

Hey – Add your own story!

Recovering Your Energy after a Loss

You have lost a very dear person. The sense of aloneness is almost unbearable. You have almost no energy, even for ordinary tasks. Heck, especially for ordinary tasks. Putting one foot in front of the other is a chore. What on earth to do?
After Howard died, I was exhausted. Three years later when I lost my friend Steve suddenly, I was in shock for awhile, then I just wanted to go out and tackle a stranger to have someone to talk to. That impulse eventualy passed, when I realized my good friends were willing to be there for me.
I had to force myself out of the habit of doing nothing. Thinking and writing helped me a lot. This is when I began my journal. After awhile, I could step back and see my thoughts unfold. I became more objective about my situation, I was very lucky in this regard. Still, this can work for anyone. It can work for you, as you respect and honor your own thoughts and feelings. Accept them, all of them.


Write letters too! I find that my friends like to get letters, especially snail mail, the old fashioned kind you can hold in your hand, keep in a folder, and reread. Okay, that’s pretty retro, but my friends and myself are like that. I like to write letters to friends which highlight parts of my day which were meaningful or full of accomplishment. This lifts my spirits and motivates me to plan for the future.

Don’t give into the temptation to do nothing. Idleness and fretting can become a damaging habit, keeping you from healing. Instead, plan something. It can be as simple as a visit to a neighbor or your own lunch, or as complex as a road trip. I find the twin pursuits of daydreaming and planning keep me looking forward, and that is a good thing!


Another hint: Engage with people whenever you can. I found that isolation was my greatest enemy and that my friends and people in general were vital to my healing.

Journalling helped me chronicle my thoughts and became like a ladder out of a gloomy past. I acknowledged my negative thoughts but did not invite them to stay. I quickly regained my identity and sense of worth. I like the idea that I can preserve my best ideas and share them too, so now I have this blog that keeps me thinking and writing!
You can track your growth if you write your thoughts down, with dates. That is how I gradually became my own therapist.

Here’s a link to entertain and surprise you, as you recover your footing. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moxie I assumed I knew what “moxie” was!

Nurses

People have become more and more fascinating to me over the years. I find remarkable folks in all kinds of settings and often have great conversations. Here I’ll write about my favorite group of heroes, Nurses.


I was in the hospital briefly, about a year ago. I had been having problems with my fussy gut, but ignored them because that’s part of getting older, right? Besides I was planning a yard sale for that Saturday. Even my neighbors were involved. Anyway, the evening of May 17 I was busily organizing for this yard sale, when my gut hurt more and I noticed some blood. I had the good sense to stop everything and call the emergency crew.


They were wonderful. So were the people at the ER, especially the nurses. We had conversations, even shared jokes. (My new motto is, “I would walk a mile for a good conversation”.) They put my antibiotic in an IV drip and admitted me to the hospital. I was there for 2 days, during which I got to meet lots of people and have many conversations. One nurse shared with me her frustration about technology and how often it changes. She was hilarious. I told her she should write, maybe create a blog.


I said that sometimes when I begin to write, it is as though the message is given to me. That got her attention. She stepped closer to my side. Then she asked me to write down my information before I left!


So, what was going on with my gut? Some inflammation, connected with food sensitivities. A colonoscopy and blood test helped me sort it out. And I talked with a good friend who had faced similar problems with her children years before. She suggested I keep a food diary to observe patterns on a daily basis. I’d like to note here the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities: Food allergies provoke an immune system response. In the case of food sensitivities, however, the reaction is triggered by the digestive system. I had tended to use the words interchangeably, which is not correct.


What I found interesting in my hospital adventure was the process of meeting new people. After Steve died, I felt very lost, but after journalling for awhile I began to get clear on what I needed. Wallowing in grief was not a good direction. So, among other things, I decided to set some goals. (God’s idea). One of these was to meet more people.
Lo and behold, He’s making it happen!

Lead with Curiosity

This year is volatile in many ways. Things can get ugly when we disagree about things, especially politics. I am not writing to promote one candidate over another, or one policy over another. I am writing to consider how to maintain friendships while having the discussions we are bound to have in an election year. I write from experience because I recently had to disagree – gently – with a good friend. My personal preferences were not important, nor was my view on the future of our country. The important thing was the future a a precious friendship.
A calmer approach also opens my mind and allows me to learn. Let’s say I disagree profoundly with someone, even someone I barely know. Now it’s not about preserving a relationship. I could tend to get emotional in such a discussion. I’ve discovered this accomplishes nothing. Political discussions can never be ‘won’. Looking back, I see it’s all about ego: “Can’t you see I am right?” Another good friend corrected me on this a few years ago, and while the criticism stung, I appreciate it now.


So, how are we to talk to each other in a hotly contested election year? Consider one idea, see if you think it has merit: Put your curiosity in the drivers seat. Ask the person, “Why do you think this candidate (or policy) would be the best choice? Ask other questions.


Here is where it gets interesting, because you have just initiated a discussion. The person may want to know what you think. But you are prepared, not just because you have a position, but because you are calm enough to have heard what the person just said. I suggest that you refrain from arguing, even if you do have a host of facts to support your view. Instead you might phrase your ideas in words less threatening to your listener, for example, “My understanding is…” Why do this? It’s about keeping lines of communication open, which I think is more important than the illusion of winning. The benefits of this are great. We begin to learn things. I may learn things of value without having to change my mind totally. I think all this is helpful in an election year!

Steve’s Folks

After Steve died, I mentioned to his brother that I knew his dad would have an empty place in his life, too. And in his weeks, because he used to invite Steve and myself over for lunch fairly often.
Jerry suggested I visit his dad, so I did. I found the visits a real comfort to me, too. The conversation ranged from gun control policy to the origin of American regional dialects and family connections. I got to see quite a few family photos, including one of Steve smiling broadly at a family reunion.


Sometimes I would bring Gerald the results of my attempts at sugar-free baking, and we would discuss methods, since Gerald is already accomplished at this. When I left for home, he would often give me a little token of friendship. My favorite is a little booklet from Salesian Missions entitled “Never Alone”. Inside is a wealth of poetry affirming God’s love and presence. I will always treasure this – it lifts my spirits. ~

Apology

Upon rereading my post of a couple days ago, I think I must apologize for what sounds like the callous assertion that people who have lost their jobs must suffer for the good of all. That’s how it hit me upon reading it today. What a terrible suggestion! What I meant to emphasize is that we should become more generous in order to help our neighbors and promote the community I spoke of.


I recently read of a restaurateur in Washington DC who serves everyone who comes in the door regardless of their ability to pay. He emigrated from Pakistan some years ago, worked very hard and saved money in order to do God’s work, which he had not yet identified. When a friend wanted to sell his restaurant, it was clear what he should do – feed the hungry. He has paying customers, of course, but feeding everyone is at the center of his mission. See this story in the March 2020 issue of Guideposts magazine.

Challenges

The challenges of living today are enormous. So much is required of us, especially in the area of communication. We are bombarded with information, so we’re constantly weeding and sorting: Truth from lies, value from garbage, friends from foes, threats from opportunities, hope from fear. These challenges increased exponentially with the advent of the internet. We have an explosion of information and a whole herd of new options, which means thousands more decisions every week or oftener. These are days that test our mettle.


And now we have a global pandemic. This can make us fearful and a bit more selfish and protective. Yet, I read recently about a business owner who voluntarily closed his bar for the second time, to help control the spread of COVID19. He considers it a community service and a necessary precaution.


My heart aches for those who have lost their jobs. I’ve been in that situation too, over the years, and I remember the feeling of desperation. Still, I pray that we will all learn to accept some sacrifices for the sake of our communities. I believe that Community, like Faith, is at the heart of the positives that will help us work together and survive.
If you know of a story of community effort you would like to share, I invite you to add your comments! And thanks.

Walk a Mile…

I would walk a mile for a good conversation”, I’ve been telling myself for several months now. Last November I found a good conversation and didn’t have to walk a mile!
A good conversation doesn’t have to be a long one, and it might be with a total stranger. That’s what happened on this particular Tuesday noon. I was at the laundromat. The place was empty except for one young gentleman and myself. He was loading the washer next to mine as I unloaded my finished wash. It seemed only neighborly to speak, so I said, “the never ending chore, eh?” His answer was more than I expected:
“It’s all good though, helps to clear the mind. Getting clean clothes and a clean start. Things don’t matter so much.”
Wow, how true. I said something like, “Yes, beautiful!” before going on my way, full of gratitude at how amazing people can be.

My Howard could make people laugh with his outrageous stories, most of which were true. Folks also loved is hearty laugh and remembered it after he was gone.
When he was ill, the daughter of some good friends, wrote him a note of encouragement in which she recalled his special laugh. This was one of the last gifts he received, and priceless, in my view. Yep, people are amazing.

A New Kind of Challenge

Today we are in the midst of a situation we had never anticipated and were not prepared for: a global pandemic. The whole world is dealing with it, trying to control its spread and flatten the curve of new cases. Some people compare it to the seasonal flu, but COVID19 is much worse. It is a “sticky virus” and not to be conquered by our immune systems, since no one has yet been found with a natural immunity. Hospitals in many places are overwhelmed with COVID19 patients. But you have probably heard all of this and more, since the United States is over 5 months into this experience. Our task now is to control the spread. Wearing face coverings seems to help, as does not congregating in public places like restaurants. I worry that this is a critical time for us, since many places are opening again.
So what’s my point? I’m hoping we will have conversations about this, that we will listen as well as talk. I admit that I am often quick to jump into a conversation with my opinion without listening to a person. So how could I respond intelligently to what they have to say? I hate this habit of mine! What I need to do is ask questions that will clarify both my thoughts and theirs. I could write letters too ,that will exercise my brain and order my thoughts.

Tigger here, Again

I always knew Mom was trainable!  She's smart and she listens to me.  Her biggest milestone lately is learning to trust me outdoors!  Right after she mastered that, she stopped pulling my tail to get me back in.  I'm working on getting her to listen for my mewing so I can come in. 
Mom adopted me when I was five months old.  It was springtime and my foster Mom let us all hang out in the yard, sweet!  We had each other to romp with as well as a ready food supply.  Once spring came, we were like never inside.  Momma taught us to climb trees.  What a rush that was!  Now there were all kinds of new hunting possibilities. 


I think Mom wanted me to be indoor-outdoor for a long time, but her friends told her that awful things would happen to me if I were allowed out: fleas, traffic, catnappers, etc.  Then one day Mom was chatting with a lady she goes walking with.  The lady has a cat named Gideon, who is also a lady (Go figure!  What's a girl cat doing with a macho name like Gideon?)  She told Mom Gideon does fine outdoors, even crosses streets, and of course comes in at dinnertime.  I think that helped clear the way for my new life!