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The Frustration of Privilege

giphyI feel like a marshmallow snowman who was put down too close to the fire; blotchy and expanding at a frightening rate.

I stress eat at work. This week, a family sized package of Cadbury eggs  all but disappeared.  If you look at my suit pants which no longer zip up all the way, or the sagging ass of my ‘Rockstar’ jeans, you can appreciate where the chocolate went.

I’ve spent some time complaining about people who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously. It makes me sound holier-than-thou, and to be honest, I’m not. I’m a  middle-aged woman who misses her privileged normal.

Today would have marked my annual arrival on my favourite island. Right now, I’d be slipping under crisp, white sheets in an air-conditioned room, tipsy from rum punch, and nursing an almost-sunburn.  Instead, I’m ironing white dress shirts to take in to work tomorrow to get me through a week of death and destruction.

This whole social distancing thing is getting to me. It’s not because I can’t stay home. Au contraire. I fascinate myself. I can keep myself wonderful company in solitude. As a matter of fact, it’s my preferred state. I’m a writer, a reader, a baker, a needleworker, a gardener, and the toatler of tea.

When I’m in the mood for company, I prefer gin for conversations, and bubbly for the type of communication that doesn’t require words. I miss going out to write, to watch the world go by, and catch people’s idiosyncrasies while they’re not watching.

I miss feeling like a woman worth taking a chance on. I miss my pedicures, and spa days. I miss all of the things that I habitually do outside of my home.  I miss face to face conversations that have no agenda that take place in the kind of coffee shops that make me feel like an intellectual. That’s where the richness is.

I’m tired of tech and texts. I want to be close enough to someone I find interesting, that I can see the tiny tells that give them away. I miss connection.

I want certainty back. My little brain has never been good at flexibility. My father used to say that I would have made a great drill sergeant. I like order. I like procedure, protocol, efficiency.  None of this working-the-front-lines has any of that certainty right now. And I’m struggling with professional suppleness.

Today I almost upended a twelve year old on her bicycle. On purpose.

As she ran her tires up my back leg, I was required to take the headphones out of my ears and interrupt Tom Hanks’ soothing voice as he read Ann Patchett’s, The Dutch House to me. Her parents, I decided on the spot, were useless wankers.

I value my walks as private time. My house is a sanctuary of peace, except when there are two, twenty-somethings back at the nest and  a hubby who works from home.  During this time of duress, I like to have my phone conversations in private while I’m trying to walk off some of the Cadbury eggs.

giphy-1I take extra long, extra hot baths and use a plethora of face masks to try and erase the worry from my face.

I drink more; lemon water during the day to stay hydrated while breathing that hot, heavy breath through a mask, tea at night to calm my nerves, and on the weekends, I lean pretty heavily on gin to maintain my charm.

I want a weekend away in a hotel suite with a fireplace, and a giant bed with layers of fluffy white duvets. I want to be spoiled rotten with fine dining, really great wine, and a new piece of sparkly jewelry to remember the weekend by. I want the freedom to wake up late and not worry about what doesn’t get done just for a day or two.

In the past I had a small reserve of men upon whom I could call to relieve some tension; the olympic athlete, the bookworm, the suave European charmer, the hippie ( I always liked the hippies), the businessman, the stupid but handsome younger man….

I’ve traded them all in for one man whom I have accepted adulthood with. Lucky him. Being bound to our homes and workplaces, we’re getting a chance to get to know one another…again. Lucky us.  He has taken to his own long walk regime, a headset that signals silence, and watching television in another room.  I have established a hidden stash of gin.  Everyone’s happy.

As this social distancing continues, I’m reaching out to other funeral director friends from around the world. It hasn’t taken long to gather a list of friends who may be wanting to sit on a white-sand beach with me when the world heals, and celebrate with slushy drinks and suntans.  How’s that for privilege?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dispatch From the Front Lines

funeral director

This morning I waited in line to stock up on groceries, feeling thankful that in our home, none of us have lost our jobs.  I stand in the sunshine feeling grateful that I know I can stock up on what we need, and we don’t have to worry about how to pay for it.

As a last responder, my days are filled with assisting the bereaved navigate the uncharted waters of grief in the time of COVID. Other than those who harass us over and over with demands to breach mandated gathering numbers, I feel for each and every family who has to say good bye during such stressful times. The phone rings non-stop on top of the additional work of caring for those who have died from COVID 19. Despite the stress, I feel thankful that we share a strong camaraderie as funeral directors.

My days off are like a lifeline for me.  I need time to recharge and rest. I don’t stand in line to get necessities because I’m bored and need to leave the house. I do it because I have to.  This might be why I became irritated today by the  woman cruising through the store having a video chat with her gal-pal;  a precious face mask flipped down on her neck. A mask that a health care worker needs, and knows how to use.

selfie“Ooooooh! Should I get these?” She says, taking a video of the munchies on display, like her knob of a best friend hasn’t seen a bag of potato chips before.  And then she giggles, puts back the bag she just touched, and grabs another one for the camera.

I know, I know. You’re going to judge me and say that perhaps this woman needs some mental health compassion. To you, I bid a sincere, ‘pull your head out of your ass’.  This is not a time to social-media-up your ridiculous sense of self importance. As a matter of fact, it’s a time to get what you need and get the hell out of everyone’s way.

The mental toll of work has left me exhausted at the end of each day.  I haven’t had energy to talk to my pals or the focus to sit down and write in what feels like too long.

On Friday, changing from my uniform into my jeans and t-shirt before going home, I gave myself a stern talking to. It was a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps chat about getting my head right and devoting time every day to something energizing.  Walk. Read. Write. Call a friend.

People on the front lines are marching in to work every day despite feeling overwhelmed, frightened, and mentally fatigued.  People like me who care for the dead and the bereaved, bear witness to the pain and suffering that this disease leaves in it’s wake. It’s a lonely, hollow, grief that no one should have to go through.

self care

Please don’t be the asshat at the store treating this like a joke.

More importantly, if you are a front-line worker right now, I hope you have the energy to be just a little bit selfish; take time to let your body feel vibrant and alive, get some fresh air, make love, make art, sing in the shower…cry if you need to, and be vulnerable enough to let someone care for you.

 

 

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Purpose Doesn’t Need Pants

no pants 2Meh. I don’t need pants today. Not really. Or a bra.  My  first thoughts as I towel off after the shower.

These are strange days, strange days indeed.

I stepped on the scale…Crap…Stepped on it again, and again, and again… a different reading every time. I would’ve thrown it out the window, but now’s not the time to go shopping for a new one, I’ll take a two pound window of the-numbers-don’t-matter-your-pants-don’t-fit, and try not to devour any more ju-jubes today.

I’m as stress eater.  A reader. A crafter. A napper. A stressed out funeral director grasping at anything to make me feel like I have control of something during these challenging times.  A meditation student trying to let it all go.  It’s a fine balance. Chocolate helps.

Standing there in the bathroom, with my hair piled on top of my head, I wonder if maybe, trudging in to work every day is not my purpose. And then again, maybe it is. This pandemic after all, is what I’ve been trained for.

As I sit here with no pants or bra on, sipping my coffee and writing to you, I am thinking of all the people out there who are doing their best. You’re keeping yourself and others safely at a distance. And then I think about the people whom I deal with who are selfish and stupid and inconsiderate.

You can’t fix stupid. And right now, I’m not going to try.

What I am going to do is try to maintain the grace with which I handle myself day-to-day. That does not mean acquiescing to rude, ignorant people. It means  that I will state facts firmly, and maintain the directives that have been issued to me as a professional.

The rest of my energy will be directed toward maintaining calm, kindness, and a sense of purpose that we all must have at this time. Purpose: a word that self-helpers have heard a lot lately.  I like it.

During this time of fear, and stress, I urge you to explore the deep and fascinating scope of your purpose.

Just prior to stepping out of the shower and deciding that I didn’t need to wear any civilized clothing, I had a few moments under the streaming, warm water to think about my purpose.

Deciphering your purpose can be like assessing which fork-in-the-road to travel; the one smoothly paved with obstacles too far down to see, or the one with seemingly insurmountable obstacles right at the beginning.

Fear is a powerful motivator. But it’s blind sometimes. Discovering your true purpose requires you to be brave enough to keep your eyes open, while also relying on your intuition.

Purpose. May you discover it, define it, and live it during these unprecedented times…pants or no pants.

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Front-Line Obituary

stupidityIt is with profound apathy that I announce the passing of  Patience for ego-centric dickwads. It departed this world in the late afternoon. Patience is survived by it’s partners compassion and empathy who are also hanging on for dear life.

Patience began to decline with the onset of the recent pandemic of, “I just need”, “But I’m…”, and “Why Can’t I”.  Overwhelmed by the I, I, I’s and their Me, me, me partners, patience heaved one last sigh into it’s N-95 mask and departed.

That’s how I’d begin to write the obituary for my last nerve,  if I were inclined to write obituaries during my spare time.

Exposed to the public during the current pandemic, I have lost all patience for anyone who does not respect the social distancing directives and gathering maximums set out for everyone.  I have not lost my compassion or empahty for those who have experienced a loss, or people who are respectful of my life and the life of the general public.

Overwhelmingly I am confronted (yes, confronted) by people who think that somehow they are immune to the rules.

grumpy man

Overwhelmingly I also find myself thinking that it is not the COVID 19 virus that puts us at the highest risk, it is egotism (aka ignorance).  Individuals who think they are exempt from social distancing, and deserve more than essential services right now, are truly the stupidest people I’ve met…ever. And I’ve met some real idiots.

Do us all a favour. If you live with, talk to, or have occasion to stop some idiot from exposing front line workers to their childish pouting and time wasting, please do.

Front line workers are not out doing our jobs because we have time to argue with dumb-dumbs about social protocol and official directives.

If you are going to argue about your right to be anywhere right now, please, for the love of humanity, shut up and stay home. Pass it on.

 

 

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The Sanctuary of Your Car & 3 Movies that Might Save Your Sanity

car
Whoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a God. ~ARISTOTLE~

 

I wanted to start out by telling you how very fortunate I am to be able to slip into a state of zen about this whole pandemic. I wanted to charm you into believing that once I leave my workplace (as a funeral director – stressorama), that my home is a haven of peaceful solace. Instead, I offer you your vehicle as a hide-out, and your bathtub as a time machine – steamy water, candlelight, music, and memories of a delicious past….

The reality at my house (and likely the majority of others) is, that it’s a circus of emotion; sometimes gratitude is the pervading atmosphere, sometimes, tension, fear-turned-irritablility-and-anger, and sometimes happy-hour at unlikely hours. Mostly, it’s a combination of all of those things, depending on who’s in the room. Like now for instance…It’s just after 3pm, and I’m full-on gin and tonicing into the evening.

I’m trying to quietly hide in my writing/library room with a headset on (the universal signal for ‘please fuck off and don’t talk to me, I’m busy’).   Trying to get some peace and quiet (while CNN is blaring in the living room and my sweetie is passively aggressively putting away dishes because he thinks someone else should be doing it), requires new strategy.

While we mostly want to choke one another, there is one thing that has saved us all. That one thing? It’s  comedy.

My top three COVID classic comedy selections  (in no particular order) include;

The Big Lewbowski

 

lewbowski

 

Hot Tub Time Machine

 

hottubtimemachine

 

 

 

Mastermind

 

masterminds

 

Feeling helpless is clinically the worst case emotion for anyone exposed to trauma. The only thing that we can do now to act, is not to act (in other words, for the love of God and my desire to go camping this summer, stay the hell home), it’s tough to stay sane.  Maybe a good laugh will help release some stress, and get you focussed on ways, however small, that you can be of service.