Thursday, October 10, 2019

Comfort Measures

Another week has passed and things are still rough. I'm anxious. I'm not sleeping well. I'm cranky. I can't seem to dislodge the boulder sitting on my chest, or at least not for very long, before it rolls right back on me.

The image that's come to mind is the labor and delivery room. There's the nervous excitement that soon there will be a brand new baby to hold and fall in love with, but first, the searing pain and contractions that wash over a mother with no end in sight. I'm in the stage of labor known as transition. It's intense and frightening. I must remember to keep breathing, to relax where I can, and to trust that this terrible time will pass.

There's no baby at the end of this labor, but rather a stronger, more assertive version of myself. The gestation period has been long, but unlike other dark periods, I can feel the promise of brighter days. I also believe that I have the skills necessary to render such a future for myself.

In the mean time, I am working hard to stay present and to find pockets of joy and peace. Panic attacks are exhausting and no way to live day to day.

Here's a list of the things that are comforting me these days: 

Avett Brothers' newest album, Closer Than Together. I have listened to it on repeat since it dropped last Friday. I love the entire album, but have a few favorites: Long Story Short, Better Here, and It's Raining Today. They were also guests on a recent episode of Dax Shephard's Armchair Expert podcast, and I've listened to it twice! Those voices and hearts and minds are soothing to a weary soul.

A comfort read of mine for years has been the At Home in Mitford series by Jan Karon. For Christmas I received her latest compilation with snippets from each of the books called Bathed in Prayer. I love the characters so much, and getting to revisit them for a few pages in the morning before work or before I fall asleep has helped me breathe easier.

Each Sunday, I'm the one who emcees the caring and sharing portion of church before the service. I love being able to stand before the congregation and see all their faces. No one can hide. I see people's joys and the burdens they're carrying. I love them all so much, and on Sunday mornings, if I feel so inclined, I can tell them. There's a beautiful exchange that happens in those few minutes that fills me up and helps me start a new week a little more refreshed.

I've been baking muffins almost every weekend. Our house guest and I discuss each batch. Until this past weekend, we didn't have much to dissect, but this Saturday, I poured the melted butter in all at once rather than slowly mixing the batter and then adding some more. Whew! Lesson learned I will not do that again. The muffins were so bad, I finally threw out the last half. I am undeterred, and will bake more this weekend.

My daughter and I can get really silly together. Our latest absurdity is laying together on the couch, picking some nonsense words to sing and then having the other person “lip sync” trying to guess how long the singer will hold the notes or where she will add syncopation or what not. It's not something we'd want an audience to witness, but man do we love the giggles this game evokes.

ALDI sells sea salt caramel chocolates for $2.99 and they are so decadent. I love the affordable luxury and buy them regularly.

I've been attending a monthly writing group and it's helped me identify some writing goals and helped me stick with them. Last night's meeting was an especially wonderful antidote for a long, miserable day. 

As I was putting away a load of summer laundry, I decided that the temperatures had fallen enough for me to swap out my seasonal closets. I can't tell you how much I love that it's time to put on boots and layers again.

My gardening day dreams really seemed to boost my spirits. I marvel at how far I have come from that sad, heartbroken woman I was a year ago last May when I couldn't figure out what to do to conquer my bad feelings and unsightly yard. I can barely remember those sentiments now. Gardening has fueled my creativity and resourcefulness and reminded me that anything is possible. Particularly when I break the goal down into smaller tasks. Over the winter I'm going to research planting raspberry bushes and other roses.

These things are like the ice chips a laboring woman she snacks on as she waits for the pain of labor to pass. None of these things can "fix" what I'm working through, but they offer refreshment and a distraction as I labor on.

I'm grateful that I have the ability to pick myself up out of my wallowing and to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The wonderful thing about the change of seasons is the physical reminder that No Season Lasts Forever. I am holding that thought close and doing best to keep my chin up. Hope you do too.

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