Hibernating Under the Hydrangea

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Charlie Brown the Airedale napping under an Oak Leaf Hydrangea and Ginkgo tree.

So many people love Fall.  Really, really, love Fall.  Cooler weather, that smell, changing of the leaves, Pumpkin Spice everything – and I mean everything, just yesterday I saw a sign at a large auto dealership that read, “Pumpkin Spice Oil Change now available.”  That made me laugh much harder than it should have.  Probably because I don’t get the whole pumpkin spice craze.  I’ll let you in on a secret, add some cinnamon and nutmeg to your coffee in March, it’s still “Pumpkin Spice”.

Despite the unseasonably warm weather this Fall, I’ve been affected in the usual ways;  sleeping almost 12 hours a day, and I’m still exhausted.  My hands and feet are always cold, therefore I spend the days layering up and wondering where my fingerless mitts are – I own a ‘freakin’ yarn shop, so why can I never find my fingerless mitts when I need them?  I can’t spend time outside without paying for it the day after.  Everything hurts, all the time, every day.

Much like Spring, Fall is a season of change.  Maybe that’s why despite my efforts, precautions, and the various actions I take to combat my body’s usual response to Fall, I fail every year.  Because things seem to be changing and weighing on me heavily this Fall, the precautions are counteracted by the changes – the good and the bad ones.

While many of these changes could, and do happen, at any time of the year,  they just somehow seem more poignant in the Fall.  Probably because unlike Spring’s anticipated change of rebirth and renewal, Fall signals death, cold, and hibernation.  That’s quite a different type of change; green and vibrant vs. grey and still.  And that difference can create a vastly different attitude.

I believe we need a period of hibernation.  The rest of hibernation allows one to wake up renewed, as we’re supposed to in the Spring.  But our society doesn’t place much value in the notion of rest and hibernation.  And let’s be honest, unlike animals, we can’t sleep away months – the dishes still need done; dinners need made; laundry still piles up; appointments must be kept; and with the holidays coming, family obligations arise.

All of these tasks and obligations can wear away at our being.  It’s a hard thing to accept, but it’s ok if we only maintain the status quo at these times.  You only got the dishes and the laundry done?   You’re probably the only one keeping tabs.  We need to remember that not all of us like to, or are even able to, run at full speed every day, all year, every year.  And that is ok – albeit hard to accept, even by those of us who unwillingly slow down.

As we move into what is supposed to be a slower season in our annual life cycle, let’s remember that not all of us enjoy the hustle and bustle of daily life every day of the year.  Some of us need a break.  Life is exhausting.  Truly.  Sometimes we need to slow down, whether we want to or not.   The fast pace that society seems to demand isn’t the pace we should always strive to maintain.

However you find yourself handling this season of change, I hope you find the support you need to slow down and enjoy the changes that Fall brings and the hibernation ahead, even while continuing your daily life.  Or at least, like Charlie Brown, may you find a great place to hibernate (nap).

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Shine on.

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When I started this blog a few years ago, the intent was to share the ways in which The Goat and I were attempting to live lightly, leave a small footprint, be green, or basically how we were attempting to live in such a way that we would use our, and Earth’s, resources, wisely.

Since then a lot has happened.   That’s to be expected, as life moves forward day by day, hour  by hour, minute by minute.  We get older, all of us.  Situations at work change.  Situations at home change – sometimes due to everyone getting older, sometimes due to work, sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, like an accident or sudden death of a family member.  Fashion, pop culture, and society’s ideals and positions change.

Right now America is going through a huge moral quarrel, and it will get ugly, because it already has.  Each time something horrible happens, my heart breaks a little more.  I can’t wrap my thinking around the hatred spewed almost daily on the nightly news.  I can’t grasp how someone can hate an entire group of people with such ferocity that they lose sight of the objects’ humanity.

Throughout modern history there has always been an “enemy” – and for some reason we like to assign them a color?!  This idea that the “other” is evil propagates an ideology of fear and hatred, entitlement and superiority, and the ever popular “us vs. them” mentality.  While it might be an acceptable attitude at a sporting event, it’s not acceptable elsewhere.

I’m tired of this “us vs. them” ideology.  There is no “them”.  We all live on a small planet with limited resources.  There’s just humanity.  That’s it.  Every human on this rock needs to eat.  Every one of us needs a safe place to sleep at night.  Every single one of us is linked to someone else.  We all need assistance from others, every single day.  You might not think so, but someone works at the power plant that feeds electricity to your home.  Someone wrote that app you can’t live without.  Someone harvested the veggies at the grocery store, yes even the ones that are imported from across the globe.  Someone butchered the cow that provided the burger you grilled last night.  Someone made the fabric from which your clothes are made.  You get the picture.

I may have digressed a tad, but I felt it a bit necessary to do so before getting to my point, which is that I’m going to strive to return to the original intent of this blog – sharing and documenting our attempts to live life the best we can, while using our resources wisely – be that upcycling, gardening, choosing our products carefully, or sharing healthy habits and ways to improve our life.

Right now things look pretty dark; and the only way to overcome darkness is to shine a light.  Once one candle is lit, it’s easy to light a second from the first’s flame, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth…  We all need to find those people that help us stay positive, keep up the work we’re doing, and to stay focused on the bigger picture – living a good life while leaving a planet for all of those that come after us.

By forcing myself to refocus on the bigger picture I’m hoping to help others do the same.  Because as one of us shines brighter and shares their light with others, the light begins to overcome the darkness, making it easier for all of us to see a way out.

Image result for victory gardenCorny?  Maybe.  Mostly, I’m hoping to remind myself that while the Paradox of Tolerance is very real (see photo above), climate change is happening, violence is becoming the norm, and the political climate is tenuous (and historically reminiscent), sometimes the best acts of patriotism, defiance, and activism look very similar.  And sometimes they are as simple as planting a garden, mending a shoe, or freezing your leftovers…

So can your salsa, mend your shirt, and learn an apocalyptic life skill.  You don’t need to carry a protest sign to be a light in a dark world.  Shine on.

 

 

Just Keep Living

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The back yard, June 2017

I’ve been doing a lot of yard work recently.  Over time, our yard has changed – trees and shrubs have grown closer to maturity so we have shade where there used to be sun, and sun where the shade has receded as other plants have died.  Jasmine died and critters took new routes, as hers grew over.  Then we got Charlie, and he’s wearing in new traffic patterns.

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“New” veggie bed

All of these changes have forced us to alter parts of the yard and have slowly rearranged the landscape.  Living in an urban environment however, poses some challenges in this regard.  I don’t have large designated veggie  garden, so I’ve been busy trying to find the right place to plant my tomatoes and peppers, moving the peas and broccoli to new spots this year, and preparing new areas for fall while figuring out what needs transplanted (and where!).

All of this garden rearranging got me thinking about the changes in our life’s microclimate.  Right now there seems to be a lot happening in our lives, and the lives of those close to us.  We all go through various seasons in life, and it’s perfectly normal, but, even if they are good changes, they aren’t necessarily

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Back yard, June 2017

easy to adapt to, and when they are negative changes, they can be especially difficult.

There are so many in our circle who are experiencing health issues and all that they encompass; the uncertainty of what to do next, the financial burdens and obligations, mortality, adjusting to a new “normal”, and everything else that comes with a new diagnosis or the expected  progression of a disease.

The grief that some are experiencing is gut wrenching.   Everyone experiences the circumstances surrounding grief differently; even when siblings lose a parent, the siblings will likely react differently because they each had a unique relationship with the parent.  So even when we can’t relate to the specific situation, we can all relate to the pain and feelings involved when someone is grieving.

Addiction is touching the lives of more people everyday.  People we know.  Friends of friends.  It could be alcohol; it could be pain medications; it could be illegal drugs.  But addiction is more common than most want to believe; and it’s not just the life of the addict that is affected.

All these scenarios, and so many others,  make for a gloomy outlook – and leave us wondering what to say or do in response.  What do you say to the couple who lost a 3 week old infant?  To the person trying to come to terms with addiction?  To the person waiting for test results?  How do you help the ailing neighbor dealing with age related issues?  Or the person trying to live day to day with mental illness?

Let’s face it, life is hard.  There are a lot of things that can go wrong.  There are a lot of ways in which we can become overwhelmed with sadness, fear, dread, grey thoughts, feelings of uselessness, loneliness, and anger.  No one is immune to tragedy, not even those annoyingly always upbeat and cheerful people.  You can’t will away unfortunate events.  Bad things can happen to good and happy people, good things can happen to grumpy or mean people too.

There’s a lot of unpleasantness going around.  How do we combat that?  How do we, as a society, rise above it and create a world that helps those who struggle rather than a world that continues to pound them down?  How do we keep going and keep living?

Some people rely on faith to keep them going.  That’s beautiful, and great for them.  But what if faith isn’t something you lean on in times of difficulty?  How do we comfort or care for those whose faith is different than ours without pushing them away by proselytizing at an inopportune time?

Be kind and just keep living.  That’s it.  Just because someone doesn’t believe as you do, doesn’t mean you can’t comfort, care for, or be by their side during a trying situation.

Being kind isn’t hard, or at least it shouldn’t be.   And kindness has this weird way of rippling outward like when a pebble is dropped in a pond.

Smile at that giggling kid.  Be kind to your casier.  Be thankful for the little things.  Walk your dog.  Watch the birds.  Sit on your porch.  Talk to your neighbors.  Be there for your friends.  Actively listen when people tell you what they’re experiencing.  Make dinner, or order take-away, for someone you think might need it.  Send a card – yes, through the post, e-mail doesn’t count.  Leave your extra garden produce on the neighbor’s stoop.   Turn off your cell phone, or don’t answer it, when talking to someone – including cashiers, waitstaff, and receptionists.

Sure, we don’t feel like being kind all the time.  I mean, it can be exhausting.  But if we all do our best to be kind when we are able, it’ll make it that much easier for all of us to just keep living.

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