What’s Missing?

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Back in July, I published a list of the five things I missed most during the pandemic. It was a way of putting down on paper/screen some of the “normal” things that had been interrupted in what is becoming this lost year. They were mostly superficial, little things that I wouldn’t normally notice throughout the day or week, but that by July were obviously missing from my life.

Online, I saw parents in chaos as they tried to juggle their work from home, their lack of day care, and homeschooling their kids with and without wifi and other resources. I couldn’t relate to that experience either. My two youngest children are teenagers in high school. We are fortunate, in more ways than one, that they no longer share a room. They went to their respective corners, closed the door, and went to class (if there was online class) and did their homework. We’d see them each once a day as they emerged from their cocoon of isolation for lunch. I kind of missed them.

We cooked more, and our kids cooked more. We did takeout now and again, but it wasn’t special anymore. It felt like more work. Masks on, rush in, rush out, masks off. Eat, clean, repeat.

Television was postponed when filming was postponed. We signed up for a bunch of streaming services and watched things we’d missed on the first go-round. Hamilton came to Disney+ early. Wonder Woman 1984 came to HBOMax. Supernatural returned (finally) and then finished its series run seven episodes later.

Glancing back at my original list, I was able to get most of it back in the summer and fall when covid numbers fell. Our Chinese take out place re-opened. My town’s new Starbucks was the only Starbucks in the area that had indoor seating. I was thrilled. Target was my getaway – we were always looking for toilet paper and soap. I mean with four people home twenty-four hours a day, we were always in need of one or the other. We stayed in our state, one of the safest and were able to actually go on vacation before school started again. I returned to in person mass on Mondays, although therapy remained by phone. My retreat house went hybrid and I was able to enjoy a few retreat days and two weekends before they closed again due to an increase in covid numbers.

Recently, I realized what I was really missing. The lingering.

It wasn’t church that I missed, although I definitely missed the sacraments and the liturgy and the homily, but it was the standing around talking to people I only saw once or twice a week. Our Cursillo group stopped meeting when the parish center closed. All our community events were cancelled. No parish picnic, no in person day of service, no hospitality at Sunday mass, no Lenten fish fry, no Holy Thursday lasagna dinner.

I couldn’t go to the library to work on things in different surroundings.

When my writing group met in the park after weeks of not meeting, we sat far apart. It was hard to hear. It was cold. We didn’t linger. And then winter came.

Even when I was able to go to Starbucks, before they closed the indoor seating, I’d go for a limited amount of time: eat breakfast, write for an hour (which does seem like a lot, but I was used to going for two or three at a time), and then either head directly home or get groceries and then go home.

I stopped taking myself out to writing lunches, which in my pre-pandemic days I didn’t realize how much I relished and needed.

I had one telemedicine visit, which was convenient and helpful, but I did that in my dining room. I wanted to get in the car and go somewhere else after the appointment. I didn’t.

My retreat house moved to Zoom, which was great in many aspects, but in others, the camaraderie was missing; no compliments on my scarf or my earrings. No handshakes or hugs. No breaking bread and no chapel prayer.

The word lingering came to me the other day, and it summed it up so succinctly that as I thought more about it, and what it meant, it just clicked and created a small space of melancholy and understanding.

I began to linger in the mornings in bed. Not the same thing, not a great idea either, although with my Kindle, I listened to my daily morning podcast, I took my medicine, I paid the bills, and read and replied to emails, I scheduled appointments. It became an office space, and that led to sleepless nights. My actual office became overrun with papers and pocketbooks and receipts, and was unusable. I commandeered a space in the dining room and now I work in there, although my time is spent organizing and decorating. Not helpful for a writer.

And I don’t linger there.

I work. I move to another chair to read. I move back to work some more; to write. And then I move again.
Rinse. Repeat.

I want to linger. I want a weekend to write and rejuvenate. To reenergize and reemerge a better person; a better writer perhaps. I don’t mind being home so much, but I mind not having the choice; not having anywhere to linger anymore. I dislike going out only with a purpose and losing that freedom of myself, alone with my thoughts or my own brand of quiet.

When will I be able to linger again without rushing off to the next thing?

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt – #1

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Refer to the original post for the list.

1. Find something that makes you happy.

As with most of these lists, answers will vary depending on the time of year, my mood, and whatever else is going on in my life, so YMMV on these.

With Nanowrimo, spending some time at my local Starbucks makes me happy. It’s right in town, so I’m nearby if my family needs me to return home for any reason since we have only one car.

So what is that something that makes me happy?

My usual. And the cup says it all – That first sip feeling. (c)2020

Finding the Joy

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Several months ago, April to be precise, I was given a series of reflection questions related to the losses I’ve had since the March 17th lockdown. I may have mentioned this in my original post, In the Midst of Loss about that retreat session and over the course of the month following that first hour I would bring up the subject to myself and think about those losses, the reasons for them, as well as trying to name my feelings about them, and then question how to say goodbye to what’s been lost. It is obviously much harder to say goodbye to a loved one who has died during this pandemic; that loss is astronomically deeper and more upsetting than the loss of work or routine or our regular habits, although the loss of work is catastrophic in its own way and those of us struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and others will feel that some of our losses are also catastrophic. How do we accept the losses we are experiencing and move forward even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, a pandemic that will continue to be with us for many more months to come, if not at least another year or more? What strategies can be adopted and adapted to move on; to create a new ordinary for our lives?

There were two additional, important and hard to answer questions broached during that session. The first was do we really want back what we’ve lost? All of it? Are there some things that we have lost that we kind of want to stay lost? The second was to ask ourselves what was good about this time.

While we’ve all had losses, we’ve also had gains. There were good things that were perhaps only seen in retrospect. How do we find joy in the confusion and chaos of today?

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Carry On…

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In one week, a mere seven days after today, Supernatural begins with the first of seven final episodes in the show’s fifteen season series. It’s been a long road, and for the fans, there isn’t really an end. Some of us have grown up along the way, and watched as the actors got married, had children, and shared with us their other projects. Some of us found our voices, discovered new skills, met and overcame challenges and just enjoyed the stories. I am finding the ending of Supernatural a bittersweet time.

Supernatural came into my life about mid-way through its historic run although of course, I couldn’t have known that at the time. It was a dark time for me and the show filled a void, where I could watch it without having to think about the mental health issues that were nearly drowning me. As medication began and adjusted, as therapy began, as my faith took an unexpected turn, Supernatural was the light at the end of the tunnel that gently led me home. I can still feel a calm, soothing consciousness when I put on the reruns, either in syndication or on Netflix and let it play as the background music of my day whatever it is I’m doing at that moment.

I am glad that we will get an ending that is well thought out and does justice to the entirety of the series. Seeing old faces throughout season 15 has been a walk down memory lane, and I’ve enjoyed reliving some of their best moments despite the constant death of characters. Although to be fair to Supernatural, dead doesn’t always mean dead. Only time will tell.

One of the most valued things to come out of the series is the SPNFAM. A lot of that is through Misha Collins’ scavenger hunt, GISH and contributing to his charity, Random Acts. It has allowed us to become more politically aware and civic minded, especially here in the US. There is also the Stands shop where we can wear our fandom through merch while also supporting a variety of causes and charities that the actors find important. It has expanded my knowledge base of causes that I woudn’t necessarily have heard about otherwise. (I’ve shared some before, and I will share them again before the last episode airs.)

I’ve written love letters to Supernatural before and published them here and elsewhere; it has held me together when I was falling apart, and it brought me closer to people I wouldn’t ordinarily know across the country and the globe. It’s encouraged my writing, both in fan fiction and in exegesis as well as supporting my love of pop culture and puns, which Supernatural is full of. Plus there are the inside jokes, and online, there is a Supernatural gif for everything.

Supernatural is magical.

It will remain a special place in my heart forever.

While the series will end and there will be no new episodes to share and enjoy, we can still follow the actors we’ve grown to love on their various social medias, their future work and businesses, and through the fandom and fan-family.

Netflix

The CW

Supernatural Wiki

Mental Health Monday – Do One Thing

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It doesn’t need to be big.

It doesn’t need to be important.

It doesn’t even need to be political.

Or public.

Do one thing for you.

This morning my intention was to attend church. I woke up too late, but…I could still take a shower and attend church on FB Live, which I did, and then I went to Starbucks.

Three small things that loom large, but that’s okay. Any one of them would have been a success.

Your one thing matters to only one person: YOU.

Remember that everyone’s goals and wins are different from everyone else’s.

Own it.

Enjoy it.

Celebrate it.

Do one thing.