When Christmas Time is Over…

When Christmas time is over, there is always a little bit of a let down for me. All the rushing around for packages and decorations is over and there are five days left until New Years. Then there is all the undecorating to do before New Years. This year is especially so.

New Years is generally not my favorite holiday because all of the substance use – I just don’t get it. So, this will be a pretty regular New Year then with watching the festivities on TV.

Kids have one more week here before going back to school in January. Younger kids are supposed to go back first with middle schoolers and high schoolers coming in later if the in-person learning continues. My daughter will not go back to school until there is a vaccine. That much is decided.

For me the operative word right now is “ambiguity” and I don’t like ambiguity. The state of the US with the presidential transfer of power is ambiguous. The status of stimulus checks in the US is ambiguous. Whether kids will go back into the schools is ambiguous. When we will all get the vaccine is ambiguous. How healthcare will be impacted by covid-19 is ambiguous. Thankfully for me where the next meal is coming from is not ambiguous but it is for many, many people. Or the ability to pay the rent or the mortgage.

For me, this much ambiguity is hard to digest – both for myself and for others I may or may not know. The words “one day at a time” are cliched but very aptly put.

Here’s to hoping you have a restful and peaceful and non-ambiguous New Years. I keep telling myself — just remember the vaccines are only weeks or maybe months away now.

Also, please stay safe in this unprecedented time and enjoy your New Years at a distance.

After a lot of back and forth

After a lot of back and forth, my daughter’s school did not open in November 2020. Now the discussion is whether to open the schools in January 2021 after December break. Right now, with covid cases surging, there is indication that January 2021 attendance for grades 6 through 12 may be delayed again. Since my daughter has two parents who are at-risk, we are fine with that decision.

We will plan to send our daughter back to school once vaccines are available. Are you hopeful that the vaccine process where you live will be timely and safe?

Reposting – after 12 years of work

I have decided this cancellation from my therapist (see below) was all for the best. Rather than panic about not having a therapy visit for 8 weeks, I was able to talk myself through a period of not having a regular session with my therapist. When we did get in touch I learned s/he had a very painful illness but was not at a serious risk level. I feel proud of myself, if I can say so, about managing through this period. It has made me realize that in the 12 years of working with my therapist I have grown into a person who can handle a temporary lapse in therapy time if that occurs and/or as it occurs.

Here is the original post from a week or two ago:

After 12 years of work with my therapist with no interruptions and no cancellations, I got a call today cancelling/postponing our session for this month. In all the 12 years of work, my therapist has never missed or changed an appointment.

Funny how you rely on someone being there and expect there to be no gaps. Rationally, I know at some point people do get sick and have to call in sick, but it worries me when my therapist does/did this.

I guess you could say I am confronting my dependency on her. Should I have a back-up plan for when she is ill? She is into her 70’s as is my psyche doctor. Should I be thinking about someone younger just because?

When I got the news today about the cancellation I got somewhat anxious, so I called my psyche doctor and shared the news. We agreed I would go up on my meds if things felt too stressful.

Just out of curiosity, what do you do if your therapist is sick and cannot make a session? Does it stress you out? Do you move to Plan B? What is your Plan B?

I have a bad case of covid fatigue

I have a bad case of covid-19 fatigue and here’s what I am doing about it.

Anxiety is my go-to emotion. Anxiety in the midst of a pandemic is particularly tough. What I find I am doing with my anxiety is projecting out several weeks, several months and even several years into the future to see what life’s obstacles I need to attend to. This is completely the opposite of what I know I should be doing. I should be living in the moment one day at a time and not getting too far into the future or the past.

In order to help myself along with this goal and this need of getting back into the present, I am contemplating all the things I am worrying about, putting them on a list and then putting a time frame on them as to when they are due. Things that do not fall within the next 2 to 4 weeks or so go on the back burner to be addressed another day.

It is OK but not functional to have a list of all things to attend to until Doomsday. It is much nicer to have a shorter, more obtainable list of things I need to do in the next two weeks.

How do you keep focused on the present in this time of covid?

Squirrels are not my favorite today

Covid-19 is causing all sorts of crazy behaviors! Even amongst the squirrels!

Both of our cars have been besieged by squirrels in the last several days/weeks. Apparently the insulation that goes around the wires in both vehicles has some sort of soy-based component that the squirrels love. Hence the fact that cords and wires have been chewed through on both cars by squirrels. The local mechanic recommended using a monthly pepper spray intended to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. We have one car back from the shop and well sprayed. The second one we will get back on Monday and will spray again. Not to mention a nuisance this is also an expense we don’t need.

But all in all, I guess the squirrels are hoarding up for another round of covid-19 just like the rest of us…! Sorry to make a joke out of a very serious situation with covid-19. But a little humor is needed in these very serious times!

Sometimes when I don’t have the energy…

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to tackle the things on my to-do list. Either the to-do list is too long, or I am feeling anxious about things or some combination of the two.

What I have found when I am feeling this way is if I can just do one small thing on the list like pickup eggs at the supermarket, the rest of the list does not feel so daunting. As soon as I can jumpstart myself into doing one thing that’s productive, the barriers to finishing other items on the to-do list are less so. Often I can go ahead and complete several other items.

Does anybody else have a way of jumpstarting their to-do list? What is your secret?

Understanding triggers for yourself and your spouse

It goes without saying that everyone should be aware of their own triggers so as to have proper boundaries with the people in their life. This might include their spouse, a clinician, or perhaps a person in the grocery store. Once we know our own triggers, we can better avoid situations with these triggers as well as adopt behaviors that help manage through the triggers if they are unavoidable.

But what I am proposing here today is not only to know your own triggers but also be aware of those triggers for your spouse (or your best friend). Invariably about three times a year, my husband’s trigger gets tripped. This is often surrounding planning for / taking a car trip for a week to ten days. Or it may have to do with some investment issue or mechanical mishap gone awry – usually something simple. My husband tends to sweat the small stuff but let the big problems roll off his back.

Understanding what triggers my husband is as important to me as understanding what triggers me. When he is under stress he tends to use a tone of voice that is not pleasant to me. For a while in the earlier stages of our relationship I would try to counter that tone of voice in a way that escalated the conflict. I would just mimic back the escalated tone which never resolved anything and only made things worse.

What I have been doing for the last several years of our marriage or so is just going silent if he is in a triggered space. Not reacting. Not engaging. Another thing I do is to let him know I cannot process the information he is communicating to me when he is using that tone. Both of those tactics seem to work better than the escalation scenario.

Another thing I have been doing lately is verbally acknowledging him when I know he is in a stressful place. From time to time, I do talk him down from getting to that trigger in the first place. If we are unable to manage through a trigger zone successfully, I ask for an apology and he gives one.

On the other side of the coin, when I am triggered in my anxiety spot which is almost once a day for a half hour, my husband uses humor to deescalate me. If I am worried about losing the keys, he might say that he threw them out the window or some such joke. If I am worried about the car windows being open, he says he rolled them all down before it started to rain.

I am not sure this is ideal behavior for a couple but it seems to work for us. I understand his trigger areas and largely seek to avoid or deescalate during those times. He understands mine and does his part through humor to let me know my anxiety should not dominate my day or dominate my thoughts.

For the most part, we also go out of the way to thank each other for things we do around the house or to help with the running of the household. We try not to take each other for granted and express gratitude for the times when we are able to manage without impacting each other’s triggers. Part of being thankful is acknowledging that neither of us is perfect and that is OK.

One new home project at a time (continued)

I tackled another clutter spot in the house — this time a storage area under the stairs. This project was motivated by the fact that we are getting a new dining room table from my Mom as she goes into a facility for the elderly. And we need a space to keep the extra leaves. Tackling this storage area spurred me to find pictures of my daughter when she was younger and pictures of me and my husband when we were younger (and much, much fitter).

I hung several of these family portraits and a few other paintings that had been sitting in storage. The picture of my husband and me is when we were first engaged almost twenty years ago. I hung it downstairs as a reminder of how far we have come in that time period and also as a reminder that we could be healthier, lighter, fitter these twenty years later.

So all in all the decluttering under the stairs led to updating pictures around the house and making it homey. It also led to a visual reminder that I would like to get 20 to 30 pounds off and would like the same type of resolution for my husband, though I cannot make that call for him. All I can do is set an example of proper eating and exercise.

My goal now is to find a declutter project once every two weeks and see where it takes me….!

Labor Day weekend (in the States) and covid-19 protocols

It has been in the news that we saw a spike of covid-19 cases after Memorial Day and July 4th holidays in the US. This is a plea (probably preaching to the choir) to wear face masks, keep socially distant and wash hands a lot this Labor Day weekend. (For folks who don’t know Labor Day on Monday September 7th is a US holiday.)

These precautions are not things to do because we are told to do them. They are things to do because we respect the lives of those around us and request they do the same for us.