“I Can’t Today, I Have To Wash My Hair”

“I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago….” 

“It’s been 6 months since my last blog post” I almost feel like I need forgiveness.

It’s Canada Day, the sun is shining strong and I imagine the beaches are packed to capacity with families and friends sharing in the holiday.  Me, I am curled up in my  favorite chair with the AC cranked and a hot coffee beside me working on schedules. And to be truthful I am happiest right here enjoying the day in my pajamas.

I am a natural born introvert and I do it well. My husband is helping with the community BBQ at our building and I wished him well while I shooed him out the door.  Most of my nearby neighbors ( aka my hallway) are lovely souls, but I can find conversation with them by simply passing in the hallway as I exit or enter the building.  And, well, some of the others in the building just simply find my last nerve with their high heeled arrogance. I find it incredibly difficult to coexist with someone complaining that the kale salad was prepped from bagged.  Everyone is different I suppose. The beautiful thing about life is that we have the opportunity to place ourselves into the situations that feel most comfortable for ourselves. I also don’t want to be responsible for using a plastic picnic fork to  stab the person that has to pick up each sandwich triangle to determine contents and then drop it back to the platter when it doesn’t suit their tastes.  And let’s not get me started on the odd fella that wanders the building in his housecoat and comments on my ravishing beauty at each opportunity to do so.  I am still wondering where he leaves the seeing eye dog given that he generally finds me in the laundry room with raccoon eyes from sleeping in my mascara and my hair sticking up like a troll doll. Regardless, I find it less than flattering and one day might throw him my track pants from the dryer and instruct him to put on clothes like normal people do when in public.

I am just simply not the Knots Landing type of girl. For those that don’t know the reference…Google is your friend.  Watch ten minutes of one episode and you’ll understand me completely.

It’s been a long haul from the end of last year to today.  I have gone from occasional driver to nearly full time driver since my spouse seriously injured his vision in a fall last November.  We thought he might be improving until one day last week when he panicked that I was about to run over the “two little people in orange raincoats” that were standing on the roadway I was travelling along.  They were construction pylons guarding a pot hole. However, the twenty minutes of laughing til I cried certainly helped to alleviate any stress I had amassed in the weeks prior.  In his defense I did finally find my Tide Pods in the freezer nicely propped against the bag of frozen cauliflower. I blame the packaging for my faux pas in this instance. In my mind zip-lock anything must be edible right? Oh wait. Perhaps that explains the Tide Pod eating craze. Maybe I am not the only one that mistook them for carrots and the kids though they were Freezie bites.

Sitting at home trying to stop my spouse from hurting himself further as he learned to navigate with one functioning eye found my introversion blossoming like an untreated dandelion. I began to rather enjoy just taking my time in the morning and not having to get dressed to do anything social in the evenings. I mean, obviously, I had to get dressed for clients but other than that I was free to just be me.  I got into some Netflix series that found me reminiscing about easier days, I had time to actually make dinner for a change and I was finally able to make an appointment for distance glasses that would ultimately save everyone’s lives on the roads.  I rerouted my spouse from walking into walls, soothed his very frustrated pride and considered knitting to wile away my hours.

I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago.  So I made the decision to get up the next day and greet the world again socially.  That went well until the next day as I sat with my coffee cup at  11 am and decided that I really had to dust the apartment instead. And the next day was vacuuming. The day after was laundry.  I began to have visions of turning into my mother and setting aside Tuesdays to wash my hair. For those that don’t know my mum, her hair washing routine involves two full days and I am not kidding. One day to wash it and one day to walk around the house in her curlers.  “Mum do you want to go for lunch today?”  “Oh…I’ve just washed my hair can we do it another day?”  OK mum…see you in 72 hours.

We naturally retreat into comfortable patterns when the opportunity presents itself to do so. And comfortable for me has always been to disengage. While it serves me brilliantly in my work it doesn’t necessarily do the same in day to day life.  So I again made the decision to jump back in. I made that decision just a few weeks back. I flew my antisocial self to Prince Edward Island with the intention of spending the days on the beaches and smiling at everyone I saw.  What’s that old saying again?  I plan and God laughs?  I walked off the plane into what I am certain was -20 windchill. With no coat and sandals ( for the beaches remember).  And while I absolutely enjoyed the time spent there with my dear friend at her home, we both laughed at the lack of social interaction because the entire province had retreated into their homes to save themselves from freezing to death. So we got up each day and drank coffee and stood staring through the windows at the frost instead.  We finally braved the only day above five degrees and hit the beach which resulted in my poor friend getting a migraine for two days from the sub zero winds that almost blew our sorry asses into the Atlantic Ocean.  I did however get to practice my antisocial self further at the farm she works for.  If you are an introvert you will understand how good it feels to just talk to the animals because they literally agree with every single word you say. If you even feel like making conversation that is. The farm is the perfect place to practice your introvert communications skills. I had an absolute blast but I failed miserably at my original intention.  However I got to cuddle a baby alpaca.  Worthy trade off.  I did one event where my social self seems to suddenly reappear out of nowhere and then retreated again in the safety of alone. It’s the weirdest thing in the world. Hand me a microphone and I can talk your ear off. Send me to Wal -Mart and I’ll stare at the floor to avoid conversation. I should start wearing a wireless headset to the grocery stores right?

I suppose you all might be wondering right now where exactly is she going with this blog?  It does have a destination. Bear with me. I am chatty today.

I boarded my flight to home and made a firm decision to engage with the other passengers. I was happily chatting with two ladies in my seating row until the air attendant shooed me to another spot because ( in her words) “You look so uncomfortable stuck in the middle. There’s a full row of empty seats you can stretch out in”  I said goodbye to my travel buddies and found myself staring out of the plane window wondering why I wasn’t allowed to communicate with anyone.  You can laugh at this. I did. It was rather ironically amusing.  Mind you the leg room that a full row afforded me was divine. I arrived home full of my usual pep, anticipating perhaps a night out and friendly faces and woke up the next morning with an odd discomfort running from the top of my head into my neck. Decided it was from whacking my skull on the lavatory ceiling on the plane and proceeded to make plans for a weekend of social engagements.

And woke up two days later with shingles. Now, let me assure you of one thing. If the universe doesn’t think you’re getting the messages clearly enough it’s going to do something fairly drastic to make you finally receive them. Yes, the universe had slowed me down and forced me into some type of self seclusion, but what it had failed to do was to stop me from keeping every waking moment occupied doing anything but sit with my own self. I was planning. I was writing. I was counselling via social media. I was booking sessions. I was planning dinner at 9 am. I was planning laundry a week ahead. Despite being at home and not being social I was constantly doing something to keep busy.  I was even contemplating knitting for the love of all things holy. All this to divert myself from myself.

Well. Let me assure you of one very certain thing that I have learned. A severe case of shingles will bring you down to both knees and keep you there. There is no planning, no dusting, no meal prep. There is only you focused on you because you are unable to focus on anything else during the process. You have no option but to escape to your own mind as a way to escape from what is probably the most painful physical condition I have ever experienced.  And it was here that I found myself again.

It was here that I was able to face the fact that I disengage from focusing on myself because I don’t believe I am worth focusing on myself.  Yes I said that. I find my value in focusing on anything that lives outside of me. Because as an empath that’s just what we do. It’s easier to hone in on outside discomforts than face our own.  In the 17 days of pain that brought me to tears at every turn I had no other option but to focus on me. And it changed me exponentially.  For 17 long days I was able to retrace my steps to where I took the wrong steps, where I could have done better for myself, where I put myself into situations that made me feel worthy only to ultimately find myself feeling overwhelmed or worse than that, feeling used or disrespected for not setting firm boundaries. It was a period of deep introspection because I wanted to understand why someone as strong as myself would get knocked to the floor by something as ridiculous as a series of blisters that suddenly appeared one morning.

Sometimes comfort zones have to be uncomfortable to gain insight.

Nothing has changed in the work that I do. If anything this has heightened my sensitivity to the discomforts that others deal with every single day. It has taught me to be kinder and gentler. To take a moment and sometimes only a moment to send you a loving thought but to not get tangled up in trying to take it from you.  It has taught me that in order to be the best version of myself that I have to set boundaries to care for myself. I have learned that I am worthy of my own softness and that I should never feel guilty or selfish for reaching for it.  I have learned that I am worthy of the same from those that might wish to share it with me and not to downplay my need of it.

Most importantly I have learned that although others may need me, that sometimes I need me more and to honor that.  So you’ll forgive me if I can’t be there to fix it for you right away but promise to help you with it at another time unless you can fix it yourself first. That would be preferred because you learn so much from working on yourself.

I know I did.

But I am here if you struggle…sending love and support.

Oh…I also finished the third book kids. I couldn’t find time before now to do so because I was busy planning dinner at 9 am…

Progress rocks. 😉

Love love love….and thank you once again universe for sending me down the next path on this amazing journey.  But don’t do that shit again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently Bruised

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `

Today’s blog is part cathartic and part an attempt to ease the gentle hearts that I encounter every day. In a world that can be tragically uncomfortable I wanted to take a moment to recognize those that try to soothe it. Bless your soft and tender souls for trying to light the many dark corners.

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `  Tania

She’d always be the last one to get to her desk; the impatient students would shove past her, the condescending would glance at her as if she were an inconvenience; an obstacle in their path.  She wore thick glasses and carried an odor of stale urine as firmly attached to her body as the steel crutches that were attached like bracelets to her wrists. I think it may have been polio perhaps, but will never know for certain I suppose.  I found her one day, not so long ago now and upon reaching out in my excitement of seeing her grown and a seemingly happy adult; felt slightly wounded as she brushed me off like a piece of lint on her sweater.  I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness.

I would run ahead of her as she tried to reach the bathroom before her bladder released into the telltale darkened stain on the back of her jeans.  Her best efforts at speed were only slowed by the non compliance of two feet that would be dragged behind the frantic clicking of the crutches that hung from both forearms. She rarely to never would make it and the remaining hours of the school day would be spent sitting in the dampness that shared its pungency with a room full of student nostrils.  They would pick on her while I did my best to make her feel that she was not unusual.  And I remember wondering if I could have done better back then… that perhaps she may have recalled that I tried to be gentle.

Or perhaps the insults and the cruelty of others overshadowed the softness.  And if that is true, then my heart still wants to fix it despite the passage of decades.

It’s my natural way to be gentle. I struggle to understand anything less than a desire to be kind.  I cannot comprehend cruelty, or intentions that may be less than loving.  I will never find comfort in stepping on other humans to get to my destination. I would much rather join those on the ground to help ease the burden of the weight of those that do so.

Certainly I am no saint and have followed selfish paths in the moments that I feel unsupported. We are human of course, and not one of us balanced perfectly. I can dive into bursts of anger as quickly as I can dissolve into tears.  I can hide the bag of Oreo’s just as well as the next person simply because I believe I deserve the sweetness. We have all shared of the discomforts that can manifest into human nature.

However…when all is said and done…my defining nature is to be gentle. To not step on others to gain my rewards.

It is this characteristic that will find me continuing to want to soothe the way forward despite having felt the weight of such feet press into my spine time and time again.  I say this without complaint but a simple yet new understanding that in this gentleness is my greatest strength.  Empathy is an unforgiving journey and not for the faint of heart. Empathy requires an ability to unbend a spine that is bruised, sometimes broken and unfurl it to standing without sharing the pain.

I wondered for a moment if I was practicing true empathy in questioning why this woman did not remember my kindness.  It burned ever so slightly for a minute or two to feel that I hadn’t done something good enough to be remembered.  And I had to stop and wonder if I was battling the EGO or punishing my heart for not being enough when she needed it.

Or if, perhaps, I was understanding her from the value of being different than most. And in doing so I could feel how the discomforts might overshadow the kindness; and better understand my overwhelming desire to make it go away for her.

Which leads me to question something very obvious.

Are the gentle trying to heal the world because in doing so they heal themselves?

Life offers no easy answers. But it does offer us the opportunity to ask the questions.

And I love questions.

And softness.

Don’t stop that. Your gentleness. One day it will be remembered first.

Love love and more love.

Be soft to you first. And then share.