Ugh. Shuffle. Embrace the inner sloth. As much as I’m trying to distract my mind, be gentle with myself and avoid stress-eating, it’s tough to shake off these barricade blues.
Think happy thoughts. That’s the advice I would give others.
When it rained last weekend, I went to my “happy place” at the edge of the Sacramento River. Sunshine, even cloud-filtered sunshine, can increase serotonin. I felt a little better at that moment, and for an hour I did not consume chocolate.
The folks within my social media circles are doing their best to share words of comfort — videos of children singing separately but in unison, photos of cats curled at the edge of the couch, landscape photo challenges, drone-delivered toilet paper.
During this time of coronavirus cheerfulness, the sarcastic political rants seem to have gone silent.
We are the world — trying to keep our sanity: Virtual house concerts, zooming with my friends, group texts, reading classic books, binge-watching — Yet, it’s not the same as the life I once lived (and will live again).
Clap your hands
Years ago, I formed a habit about happiness, which I’m certain has been annoying to close friends. If I find myself in one of those glorious and fleeting moments, I’ll say “I’m happy right at this moment.”
It’s the adult equivalent of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”
When I’m alone and happen to be happy, I don’t say the words out loud (nor do I clap), but I’ll smile to myself, knowingly.
Maybe I want to solidify that moment, hold onto it for one second longer, to file it away.
That’s important because we all know that pretty soon something cruddy will come along to crumple our collection of happy thoughts.
These days I’m doing a good job of walking at least three miles a day, sometimes with my own thoughts, sometimes with a friend and often while gabbing on the phone. Most of the alleys that lead toward the nearby liquor store are strewn with single-shot booze garbage, drive-thru coffee cups and dog droppings. Yet, the alleys on the east side of The Esplanade have some amazing hidden gardens.
My friend Michael called this week and said he was willing to stretch his legs. We couldn’t help but pause and gasp (at a safe 6-foot distance from one another) at meticulously manicured raised beds hidden behind houses, visible only from the seldom-used, gravel-covered alley. Redbud trees are in bloom. We saw garden walkways meticulously covered with shredded leaves. Secret bungalows (perfect for an art studio or writer’s cottage) overlooked soil ready for planting. The colors included lilac and purple bearded iris. All were hidden from the front yard, to be enjoyed only by the homeowner or strangers who happen to walk through alleys.
When each of us is long-gone, flowers will continue to bloom.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I normally would have said, “I’m happy at this moment.” Michael’s a good friend, so I would have said this several times.
Funny, those words had not occurred to me.
That’s when I realized this thing outside of my firmly-closed front door is really getting to me. Silent. Scentless. Ubiquitous. Scary.
I won’t say I have low-level depression, because I refuse to solidify that thought. However, I just haven’t felt like saying “I’m happy right at this moment.”
When the Handsome Woodsman died in a car accident, I ambled about in brain fog. This lasted a long, long time. I dropped things. I searched for my keys and would find them in the front door the next morning. I really had no business behind the wheel of a car. The one thing that helped the most, back then, was that I had three friends who were also experiencing recent grief.
It was a great comfort to know they also lost track of thoughts, dropped things, and left their keys in the front door.
This week my friend Emily posted a rather revealing photo of a body part she had burned while baking. She said she had also sliced herself with a knife.
I saw a friend on the street, and we talked ever-so-briefly. He texted later and said it just feels weird to stand in public and talk, even with a good friend. I knew exactly how he felt.
An acquaintance posted on Twitter that if he had a time machine, he would go back three weeks and buy every box of Girl Scout cookies he could find. I feel the same way.
I’m glad to have the social media distractions — updates on sewing projects or recipes made from common pantry items. Another comfort is knowing other people are also feeling at wit’s end, and not particularly happy right now.