I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday comes around again

Last tomatoes from the garden
Yesterday I went out to the garden to gather some tomatoes, and here is my harvest. The ones on the vine behind are all pretty much unusable, since we had some cold weather and they withered and wrinkled up. They weren't vary tasty, anyway. I think they were intended to be used for canning. I won't plant them again next year. But the little golden and cherry tomatoes were more than wonderful to make up for it. Lots of Champion tomatoes (the ones in the foreground) are also delightful. I guess my next step is to learn to can my produce.

Most of my gardening neighbors have harvested their plots, except for Lily, who still has fat ears of ripening corn. We almost despaired of any ears emerging, but they finally did, late, and now are awaiting a little bit more time before harvest. It was a pretty good year, a hot dry summer, good for tomatoes. And aphids, which infested much of my kale. I'll have to think about next year's planting, but not now. Soon I'll need to pull out all the plants and get my garden ready for winter. I've been thinking about some different soil amendments that will make my garden more prolific. Some people swear by mushroom compost, which I've used a little, but not enough to make much difference. It sure is nice to ponder next year's garden, though. It will be my sixth and I'd love it to be the best ever.

Everything is back to normal in my sister's home. She's swimming again at the Y every morning, although the golf courses were underwater after Irma, I think even they are ready for use again. But I feel terrible for Puerto Rico and many of the Caribbean islands that were decimated by Hurricane Maria. Three massive hurricanes in such a short period of time, all of them causing untold suffering and anguish. And Mexico! Hit by a third huge earthquake in a few weeks' time. I followed the news about the search and recovery efforts until I couldn't take it any longer. The only thing I can do from here is give a little money to help. I gave to the Red Cross but recently learned that it might not be the best place to donate to. I'll do some more research about it and will let you know what I find out.

I had a couple of evenings of stress eating this past week. I would finish dinner and then rummage around for more to eat, although I wasn't hungry in the least. I just wanted to do something, and that was how it played out. Fortunately for me, we don't have cookies and cakes sitting around, or I would have eaten them. The worst of it has passed, I think, because I know it doesn't really help, and it only makes me feel miserable. I am still getting up every morning and facing the scales, and that is the only thing that keeps me from going off the deep end any further than I already have.

Friendships, and exercise, are all that are keeping me sane. The morass of politics and natural disasters weighs on me and makes me realize that the only thing I can do is take care of myself and my loved ones. And this is something that comes over me every so often, with this time of the year, autumn, being when it creeps up on me and I find myself struggling with depression. And that is in a good year! When the world seems to be crashing down around me, finding ways to cope becomes a full-time activity.

In less than two weeks, I'll be heading off to Vashon Island for my annual writing retreat with dear friends, ones I met through blogging, and I think it will be a time I can possibly find a way to express these feeling in a constructive manner. I keep thinking of writing fiction and creating a couple of characters who can carry away some of these emotions by getting them outside of me. I know it works, but I haven't found the impetus to get started. The writing retreat will help with that, I know. So I look forward to that time.

I struggle with guilt for having these feelings, while other people are struggling just to find shelter and the basic necessities of life. The number of homeless people begging for money on the streets in town has grown every year but seem especially numerous right now, when the weather is changing and they are growing increasingly desperate. There doesn't seem to be anywhere for them to go. What has happened to my country? Why are there so many homeless people?

Perhaps this is the time for me to stop running around in mental circles and try to find a way out of this mindset. After all, I am feeling an obligation not to drag YOU, my dear reader, into this place with me. Okay, I can do this. Let me think on it for a bit.

*   *   *

Well. After a little research on the internet, asking for help to manage anxiety and stress, I found several articles that I stopped to read and ponder. And guess what? Just the activity of doing that has made me feel better. I found this article on 10 Simple Habits to Grow a Positive Attitude, and just reading it made me realize that I do have tools to cope. The first thing on many of these lists is to start keeping a gratitude journal. That's exactly what I intend to do with the rest of this post: write down five things that I feel grateful for every day.

1. My partner. Yesterday he was busy all day making improvements to our home, and I watched with admiration as he got into gear to fix a few small but important things. I feel very blessed that he is in my life. He's right at the center of my gratitude. How wonderful that I have someone to carry the burdens of life along with me. Plus he's got a great sense of humor.

2. A monthly income. Every month I get two deposits into my bank account, one from Social Security and the other from retirement benefits from my three decades of work. I forget how this is beginning to become a rarity for young people. I was forced to contribute to this fund when I was young, but boy am I glad about it today. I am not wealthy, by any means, but we have enough to be comfortable.

3. My health. I am able to hike to beautiful places every single week, year round, with the Pacific Northwest giving me moderate temperatures (mostly) and being close enough to the ocean to walk to it and appreciate its ever-changing beauty. Although I'm in my seventies, I am very grateful for being able to manage my very minor aches and pains.

4. Intellect. I am grateful that I have a mind that works pretty well, even if it is beginning to get more forgetful now and then. It's only the normal aging process, and I can continue to write down my thoughts in a mostly coherent fashion and forget how many people cannot. I have a whole universe of books at my disposal, and I love to read. I just finished Al Franken's latest book and I laughed out loud many times.

5. Friends and family. Gosh, this list could go on forever! How could I forget to be grateful for all the friends I have all over the world? My gratitude for those I see every day and let me know they love me, as well as those whose presence I can feel, even if I don't actually get a chance to visit with them often. They are still there, and I feel my heart expand just to think of them all.

*   *   *

This is simply amazing. The person who began writing this post has transformed herself from being filled with woe to feeling lots of gratitude. Oh, and how could I not mention the Internet, and the wonderful ability I now have to share my thoughts and feelings with so many? Blogging is a blessing, something to be grateful for, isn't it?

And now I feel the urge to start my day, facing those scales with equanimity (well, almost), and getting out into the world so I can laugh and smile and share with my dear friends at the coffee shop. My dear partner is still sleeping, so I will try not to wake him as I get out of bed. We are both still in the process of recovering from flu shots we got this week, but now my arm is only a trifle sore and by tomorrow will be completely healed up. My tea is gone, and you, my dear reader, might take a little time to think of all you have to be grateful for. It was hard to get started at first, but then the floodgates opened and I had trouble stopping at five!

Until we meet again, I hope your week will be filled with joy, gratitude, and blessings of every sort. I will be hopefully having the same benefits in my own week. Be well, dear ones.


Marie Smith said...

A gratitude journal carried me through a particularly difficult time in my life, Jan. These days, the news is depressing and I only take it in small doses,once a day. One gratitude that immediately comes to mind, the off button on the remote!

Far Side of Fifty said...

You are a blessing to many.
I guess I would support a different charity other than the Red Cross. From personal experience from the flood of 1997.
The ASPCA gets my money or a local animal shelter.
The world is a mess, as are many of the people in it. North Korea must be stopped, so it may get real ugly soon.
One thing that disturbs me is so called Professional Atheletes not respecting the flag. If you cannot stand and face the flag then you should move to a different country...just my opinion. It harkens back to the flag burning during Vietnam Conflict.
Not much I can do but pray it all gets better. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Well you didn't drag us into the pit of woe for most of us are all ready there. I too feel guilt for having abundant creature comforts. A flip of the switch and I am climate comfortable. Open the fridge and there is plenty to eat. Many can no longer see in the dark while for me, dark is an option. However your positive list helped to pull me out a bit also. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the world's misery and it really helps to appreciate the good in our own lives, to be grateful and to reach out to help those in pain in anyway we can. Thank you.

Gigi said...

I've heard things about the Red Cross that gives me pause - I've not delved into researching it though; so it will be interesting to see what you find. We've made donations to Samaritan's Purse, mainly because we know people who work there.

I haven't checked out the article you linked (yet) but I have often thought I need a gratitude journal - maybe this is the universe's way of nudging me.

I am grateful that you are in my life - which you wouldn't be if it weren't for blogging. Have a great week!

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much for this post.
I am indeed grateful for so many things - many of which fill me with guilt. While I am not rich on a global scale I definitely belong to the 'haves' rather than the have nots.
I try and reach out, I hope I reach out.
And one of the things I am most grateful for is the blogging community.
And the fact that while the news bothers/upsets/disturbs me, I am not yet personally affected. (Queue more survivor guilt here.)
Have a wonderful week.

Linda Myers said...

I do not donate to the Red Cross. Too much of its money goes to administrative salaries. There are charts you can look at to see how much of what you give actually gets to the recipients.

I keep myself pretty well informed about the goings on in the world, and they are messy now, but as I look back that's been the case much of the time in the last 40 or 50 years, and probably longer. I am encouraged that, in spite of 45, the checks and balances in our system of government are holding, and there's been a great increase in citizen awareness, which I think is a good thing.

I need to be useful. That's why I've made four trips to work at the refugee camp in the last year. I know I am making a difference. I will probably do the same thing in Tucson, where we spend the winter. When I get out of myself, I'm much more apt to be grateful.

Enjoy your Vashon retreat! I'll be thinking of you.

Red said...

Being down and blue is most unpleasant, but you've discovered ways to recover. Some things in our world are worrying but we have to put that in perspective. Have a good week and keep on making a list of things to be grateful for. Sometimes we forget that we have some very good things going for us.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Feeling down can creep up even from flu shots. I am so glad your internet search gave you the incentive to select positive options and I concurr wuth all of your choices, tops being WG,
Enjoy Vachon. I look forward to hearing from you when you post again.

The Furry Gnome said...

Now that was a positive sounding post! A good illustration of how writing it down can actually help. I'm often glad my dad pushed positive thinking on me when I was a teenager. It's made a big difference in my life.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm just getting to this post at 8:00 in the evening. This has been a disturbing day, with on-going tension between me and one of my sisters, lots of mean spirited reactions to NFL players responses to 45's awful comments, The state of world events, and my two teams even lost today.
My gratitude list would look much like yours. I will count my blessings, and maybe find a fun movie to watch.

Rita said...

I had to chuckle. My Swedish relatives would always say--no matter what befell you--"It could have been worse." And it is so very true. Be grateful, no matter what, because it definitely could be worse. Swedish optimism. ROFL!! But it has served me well all my life. Life is rough. But life is good. :)

UplayOnline said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful and honest post! Would love to see you try your hand at fiction!

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have been feeling a similar sense of despair over the world, our country especially. I miss the years of not having to think about the President and what he was doing that might be very detrimental to this country.

I am trying to spend far less time on the news and more on the beauty of the world and those people who are trying to add their own beauty. This post reminded me of the importance and the power of gratitude. Thank you.

Glenda Beall said...

While I was not at my computer when you wrote this post, DJan, I too feel very grateful for so many things I have. Although I have had to learn to live on much less than I once had, I still have a good home, food and electricity, a car that I enjoy and my sweet little dog, Lexie.
I also have wonderful family.
The weight of the world is too heavy for me to carry, so I try not to watch the news too much. I do donate to the Red Cross. They are a huge organization and have to pay for administration but still I heard the head of the Red Cross say that 92 percent of donations go directly to victims. They also have some dedicated volunteers. I knew a couple who had an RV that they used to go to disasters to help out. They are good people who care. Today I also donated a small amount to an organization sponsored by all of our living former presidents. I can't remember the name of the organizations, but I know these guys will make sure the money goes where it is needed. Thanks for commenting on my blog, DJan. I always enjoy yours.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I sat down here in my easy chair with my iPad and decided to catch up on some of my blogs I’ve missed for the last month or so. I got very discouraged with the heat, the smoky skies, and seeing Trump on the TV every time I turned it on. So, I took a bit of a break from the internet. Then I was away on a long scheduled trip once again on board a ship and up to see more of Alaska. Now I’m back and enjoying checking out the blogs I follow. I like to save Eye on the Edge posts for what I’d call “quality time” when I won’t be rushed or interrupted too much. I’ve just finished reading your last 3 posts and enjoyed each of them. I am so glad to hear that your sister made it though Irma without any major damage. Harvey and Irma were just about the only news I really followed carefully the first 3 weeks of September. In another post I understand you are now scheduled for cataract surgery. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it to you or not but I had both eyes “fixed” two years ago just about in the same months you are going to have yours done. I have nothing but good things to say about cataract surgery … if anything, I should have had it done sooner. One thing you will need to decide is what type of lens you will want … either to see well up close for reading OR see well in the distance. I think you already know this since you mentioned Smart Guy has his eyes fixed for seeing well when reading and using the computer. For myself, I chose to have good vision in the distance and so I still need glasses when reading or working on the iPad, as I am at this moment. I think it was the right decision for me but everyone needs to decide which they prefer. Now, in this last post, congrats on your tomato harvest. Wow, the tomatoes in your photo just look great. Cherry tomatoes are my favorite … especially when home grown. I occasionally find some at the store that are quite good … I love the sweet ones! I really like the way you started this post feeling a bit on the down side and then turning things completely around with feelings of gratefulness. You have truly an excellent way of working encouragement into Eye on the Edge. Thanks for sharing your blog and for your kind comments on mine. PS Wow, I can’t believe it’s almost time for the Vashon retreat again! Always enjoy reading about your time with fellow bloggers!