Birthdays in the Here and Now

Look out world!

Today is my 59th trip around the sun. It’s actually been one of the loveliest birthdays that I can recall; gentle, peaceful, fun, and filled with love. I am reminded again and again how fortunate I am to have a wealth of wonderful folks in my life. It truly is humbling as I receive messages from people representing my different stages of life. I feel happy and at peace with where I am right now as I breathe down 60’s proverbial neck. I am married to my soulmate, I have a successful career, a cozy and peaceful home, and friends who are like family. I think about this every day, and yet for some reason I continue to struggle with the unsettling recurrence of an old foe.

A dog lover from the beginning.

I have yet again entered one of my anxiety-driven frozen periods where attempting even the most simple work tasks feels overwhelming and I have to force myself into action. I recognized the signs as it approached; the need to have everything at home be ‘perfect’ (and good luck with that in our 102-year-old home, complete with an always-shedding-but-totally-worth-it Husky/Shepherd and a crazy Tortie cat…(*let me state for the record that I did not say that Shiva was “totally worth it”). I begin cleaning out closets and drawers, ruthlessly letting go of things that I declare I no longer need, harassing my poor husband into going through his things, and then taking big bags to Goodwill. When I get this way I have to find control somewhere, and nesting seems to fit the bill. It’s not so bad; we end up with a very clean house (at least as clean as it can be with a shedding dog). I watch movies I’ve seen many times and read familiar books so that I know what to expect- no jarring surprises emotionally. I also withdraw from people- even friends and family, as I go deeply inward in an effort at some form of self-preservation. I just feel sort of emotionally numb from it all if that makes any sense.

Marley, always watching…when she’s not sleeping…

I’m sure it doesn’t help that classes begin on Monday and I travel again on Tuesday to Florida for a conference, even though Omicron has caused cases to skyrocket here in Alabama and around the country. We are all exhausted by the constant worry and uncertainty of the pandemic, not to mention the rancor of politics all around us. It feels like we are trapped in some endless, hellish loop, though the Pollyanna in me knows there will be an end to this nightmare at some point. Right? Right? Radio silence on that for the near future, I guess.

Heading to rehearsal pandemic style.

With me it always circles back to control. When I feel out of control of my situation or my environment, I internalize the stress and it results in one pretty big ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. It seems like I used to be better able to rebound from this frustrating cycle, but since the pandemic began, my battery remains at a constant 10% no matter how diligently I try to top it off. It feels like I’m struggling just to tread water. I have spurts of enough extrovertism (I think I just created that word) to get out and about as I need to, but it exacts a toll. I am working toward living more in the moment instead of being mired in the past I can’t change or the future that hasn’t happened yet. I’m finally back to taking Dan’s yoga class again after shoulder issues sidelined me over a year ago and I’m trying to return to meditation. I have got to find a way to live in the here and now instead of in worry and fear.

A peaceful evening

As my birthday is just two weeks after Christmas, the day after has typically served as my time for New Year reflections and changes, and this year is no different. I am determined to make this a good year, no matter what is happening around me. I can only control myself and my reactions to what happens. If I can remember that, maybe there is a chance that I can find and hold onto the here and now, because that is the only place where real, visceral, terrifying, amazing life happens.

59, let’s do this!

4 thoughts on “Birthdays in the Here and Now

  1. Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing the challenges and the peace. Trauma responses make everyday tasks feel so overwhelming! And I can hear in your words the gentleness and self-compassion you’re cultivating.

  2. Denise…I totally get what you’re going through, at least I think I do. I’m an introvert, always have been, and only in the past few years have come to understand and accept my personality. It’s not that I don’t do anything socially, but it definitely wears down my batteries when I do. And then there’s always a feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. My husband almost died this past summer of sepsis after his gallbladder burst and I immediately began imagining widowhood. I cleaned drawers, I organized and labeled bank accounts, and then waited for the worst. But it didn’t happen. He recovered, thank God, and is doing pretty well, despite some other health issues. It dawned on me that “the other shoe” has dropped many times in my life and I have always survived it. I can never know which of us will be left after the other passes, but I know he or I will handle it, however hard it may be. I am not going to waste any more time waiting for the next tragedy to come along. Life is too precious and short. Sorry I’ve gone on so long. Let me wish you the best in the upcoming year…I just know you’ll come through shining…Happy Birthday!

    1. Oh, Lynn- that is exactly it. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am trying to embrace that same perspective. Wishing you all the best in the new year. ❤️

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