Wellness 4— Ups & Downs

I should have told you in the first Wellness post: This won’t be just about the good things and the upward progress I intend to make, I’ll also be including those things that are frustrating, and/or setbacks, because a wellness journey is never all positive.

The roller coaster metaphor for life is very true. I recognize the importance of the down times in order to appreciate the up times, and for the most part I enjoy the ride. Even when you’re in the down times you just know inside yourself that it won’t last and better days are coming. It’s not always a period of days or weeks though—- it’s the occasional crazy or just plain frustrating few hours that can make you wish you had stayed in bed. I could probably write a book about those days but I’m afraid whoever read it would be banging their head on their desk by the end! 

Read on for this week’s ups and downs…….

ACTIVITY. I never laughed so hard. The husband and I spent a couple hours one evening dancing to Prince Radio.  Two middle-aged, out of shape fuddy duddies busting a move and just about in tears with our laughter. Oh my. And to top it off, he was quite sore the next day. The memory of that makes me smile every time I think of it. Do you have a memory like that? Memories can be great tools. I like to use them during those down times to remind myself to smile. It’s very effective.

The raw, rainy weather predicted for the weekend hasn’t been consistent. While it didn’t rain yesterday it sure was cold and gray. I did some indoor and outdoor chores but have yet to go walking. Today the sun is playing peekaboo. I should really work on more of those dreaded tasks that I love to avoid. (Or perhaps I’ll keep avoiding them and work on my accessories line instead!)

Does going up and down the cellar steps to do laundry qualify as activity? What if the dryer gives a massive thump when you turn it on and it dies? I lugged the wet laundry upstairs and hung it on the porch. I didn’t trust the gray clouds not to rain on it so didn’t hang it on the clothesline.

FOOD.  Yes I ate some food. Nothing noteworthy so far this week, except the wonderful fish & shrimp chowder the husband made. That and some saltine crackers was very warm and filling in the tummy.

The rest of the week was the usual: lots of veggies, some fruit, lean meats. I’m right at that time of year when I still like making hearty stews and such, but I’m also looking forward to making lighter summer fare and using fresh produce from our gardens.

My guilty pleasure this week was a homemade chocolate pie in a graham crust. Made using an old fashioned recipe (cook the pudding from scratch) and decadently rich. I enjoyed each bite because I know I won’t make another for probably a year. Pies in our house are usually only a winter happening, and mostly either apple or pumpkin.

Today’s meal prepping will include venison stew meat made into a nice gravy with peas and onions. This is great over rice or mashed.

MIND/SOUL. It’s been so nice to see and hear all the wildlife upon waking this past week: turkeys gobbling, deer meandering across the field, two fat gray squirrels chasing each other, a woodpecker close by— banging on a tree. And the husband amongst it all lighting the fire to boil the maple sap. We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Not only do we get to enjoy abundant wildlife, but we have gardens to grow our own vegetables, trees to tap so we can make maple syrup, wild berries to harvest, and the ocean & lakes that gives us marvelous seafood and fish. It makes a soul sing.  

On the other end of the spectrum on the work front are the occasional rude people who have high opinions of themself and behave like children. You hand them the required paperwork and they commence loudly, verbally sighing and growling like the child who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables at the dinner table. The mumbles and complaints continue the entire time they’re filling it out, and then they sit and disparage the magazines in the waiting area because they don’t know what else to do with all that righteous unhappiness they hold inside. This behaviour is invariably from those who are well educated or wealthy. I guess being smart and/or rich doesn’t make a person pleasant or happy. It’s times like these that I bring up those memories that make me smile and know that I’ll be going home at the end of the day to our haven away from the world.

To sum up the week:

  • Memories are a great tool for the wellness toolbox
  • Make your home a haven away from the world, a place you don’t need a vacation from
  • Grumpy people may take it out on you but it’s not about you at all

Savor your moments, whether it’s being with someone else, meditating by yourself, or enjoying a great meal. Recognize that the downs always precede the ups and use the tools in your toolbox to get through them.   👩🏻‍💻

Nostalgia-Inducing Writing Exercise

I was doing a writing exercise not long ago, about exploring your natural gifts through early childhood memories. The exercise asked that you go as far back as you can remember, when you had no fears and nothing was expected of you except to play all day. Then you use the common or dominant things to examine your adult life and help you see your natural gifts.

Admittedly, trying to conjure up memories of such early times is difficult. I remember playing quietly on the floor of the living room of our trailer. We had things like Lincoln logs, wooden blocks, Barbie dolls, and little metal matchbox cars. Some of them had doors that would open and close. I remember coloring with crayons and using them to make rubbings on paper of the patterns on the kitchen floor linoleum. I liked the smell of the crayons. Still do. I have vague recollections of playing outside with other neighborhood kids, though I see no faces, it was too long ago. We used to go to the end of the trailer park looking for frogs near a field I think, and sit in the big puddles after the rain. The water was warm and felt good.  I remember roller skates that were adjustable with a skate key and you buckled them onto your shoes. I was never very good but liked to go around and around on the patio.

One morning I was up early, before the chill was out of the air and you could see clouds of gnats hanging in the air. There was no one up and about in the trailer park but me so I walked around a bit and ended up on the patio of the empty lot next door. As the the sun got a little higher all sorts of spiders began crawling up onto the edges of the patio to get warm. I was just little and scared of spiders, so I let out a mighty scream at the top of my lungs. I’m pretty sure I woke the whole neighborhood and must have gotten scolded. I don’t recall who came running, perhaps the neighbor boy Brian. I stood there in terrified tears telling whoever it was why I screeched.

I got a big Raggedy Ann doll for my birthday one year. She was almost as tall as me. I was pretty excited at first when I opened the box thinking that I was seeing the end of a sleeping bag. Then pulled it out and discovered it was a dolly. I still have the photo of me hugging her with a big grin on my face.  I still have dolly, though I don’t know what happened to her clothes. She wears a dress that I used to wear as a baby. Mum made it for me. And dolly lives in my bedroom now, a constant reminder of earlier times.  

I can’t conjure up memories of things earlier than this. Even though the instructions asked for memories of before “peers or fears”, I don’t recall a time when there was no meanness from my sister. It was just part of life. Thinking about this I wonder if I should be feeling ‘robbed’ of a ‘normal & happy’ childhood. But I don’t feel that way. It certainly colored my entire life and reactions to everything in life, but I think I’m a good person– well adjusted, generally content, always striving to better myself and my environment. Anyway, it can’t be changed and I feel nothing when I think about it. It’s odd sometimes to think about things and have absolutely no feelings, like a hollow void where nothing exists. Do you ever feel that way?

Looking back over the memories, I mostly remember being perfectly content to sit and play by myself. I never felt the need to have anyone else around me and don’t recall looking for anyone out of boredom.  I didn’t worry about being good at anything, I just did it because it was fun and made me happy. When do we lose that? I recognize that from an early age I’ve had a peacefulness within myself. Is this what draws others to me and compels them to feel safe and secure opening up to me? When they do I feel patient and kind and caring and wish there was some way I could help. So is my gift then peace and empathy? Being a counselor is one of the jobs that is supposed to fit my rare personality type. I wish I had known that many years ago, when I could have gone to school for it and earned a very nice living helping others.

What are your earliest memories? Do they help you see what your natural gifts are? Can you remember when you began to lose your childhood happy-go-lucky mindset? Was it something specific? Leave a comment. I would love to hear your experiences.