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, October 4, 2020

Finding serenity every day

Arroyo Park bridge

 Yesterday I walked with Melanie (my usual Saturday walking companion), along with my longtime friend Chris (one of the regulars when we had a Saturday walking group). Chris will join us every Saturday now, since she's unable to hike on Thursdays as she will be homeschooling her grandkids during the weekdays. In any event, we met in Fairhaven and walked to the Arroyo bridge together. It was foggy when I woke in the morning, and it stayed with us all day long. The temperature never even got to 60°F (15°C) during the day. But for walking and being outdoors when active, it was just fine.

With all that's happened in the news this week, I've been looking to find some pockets of serenity so that I can function and not let current events drag me down. It hasn't been easy, and now the president is in the hospital with the virus. He has the best care available to anybody in the world, so I'm trying to stay positive with the news.

One of the ways that I'm able to keep my equanimity is to continue with my three-times-a-week yoga classes on Zoom, and to continue my exercise routine: trying to get at least 10,000 steps a day and hiking once or twice a week (although not long when compared to my pre-Covid routine, it's better than nothing). I miss riding the bus to downtown, which I've only done twice since the lockdown began in March. I might try to start again, since the buses have added lots of sanitation protocols, and no one can board the bus without a mask. Stores in my community also have plenty of safety measures, which is good, since it looks like the virus will be with us for quite awhile longer. Who would have believed that we'd be entering the cold months with such high viral numbers around the country? Certainly not me.

And I've got a new toy, which arrived last Thursday: an Apple watch. I decided to go with the less expensive (but brand new) version, the SE, which doesn't have oxygen saturation levels and an ECG built in. I figured I don't need those, and I really wasn't sure just how much I might use and enjoy the watch. There is so much I still don't know about it, but I've gotten the basics down. I chose a watch face that shows the moon in its current phase, and also displays the time and date, along with the Bellingham weather conditions. It is a watch, after all, so I can see the time and date with a flick of my wrist. The fancier and more expensive version of the new watch line stays on constantly, which didn't appeal to me. I'm quite happy with what I know about my new toy already, and there's so much more to learn.

Yesterday, when we began our brisk walk, the watch face lit up and said, "it looks like you're working out. Would you like to record the event?" So of course I said yes, and I found out several things: we walked at an 18-minute per mile pace, we traveled just under five miles, and the device has a pause button in case you want to stop for a bit. And I could choose to stop it at any time. It was fun! The watch also has a fitness feature that keeps track of my steps, and has three "rings" of activity to prompt you to close them each day. So far on the two days I've worn it, I have managed to do that with little problem. I might decide to up the activity goals, once I've gotten used to it.

So far, I'm thrilled with the watch. It also has an app that seemed a little cheesy to me until I tried it: a reminder to sit and follow your breath. Once you get settled and focus on your breath, it vibrates as you take in a breath with a cloudlike circle on the face, and then as you slowly exhale, the little circle slowly disappears. Then another breath, and so on. It's really very calming, and I have already used it a few times. There are plenty of other features like that one to explore, when I can find the time.

Three weeks ago, I fell while on a walk, and I think I might have broken the little finger on my right hand. As I fell, it hit a rock, and it hurt like crazy. Although a prudent person might have gone to the doctor, I just came home and taped it to the adjoining finger to immobilize it. It's stiff and a little bent, but it's getting better every day. I think I might finally get it checked out, but what can they do when you break a little bone in your finger?  Not much more than that. And the skin was never broken over it. In the meantime, I'm finding it doesn't quite bend all the way into a fist, but that might come with time. I've "liberated" it from its neighbor. That's when I realized that it's a little crooked. Since I don't play the piano or need anything more than the ability to type (which I can), I'm probably going to skip the doctor visit.

Speaking of doctor visits, my dear partner had his first checkup with his primary care physician since his stroke on August 9. It went very well: he is coming along nicely and is doing much better than the doctor anticipated. He doesn't need to return for four months, and is already driving himself around town and going up and down steps without having to stop to take a breath. When it first happened, it was a very different story. I'm so pleased that he is doing so well. Life will never return to what it was before, but it's sort of like my little finger: well enough to count our blessings. 

And life in the world will never return to what we had before the Covid crisis hit. It is now normal to see everyone masked, and keeping their distance from one another. I still have to remind myself not to queue up behind someone when standing in line, but otherwise I'm pretty good. I saw some cute little toddlers yesterday playing on the Village green, wearing their masks and not seemingly bothered. They of course didn't practice social distancing as they ran around and tumbled in the grass, but that would be hard to explain to a two-year-old. Still, I was impressed with their masked nonchalance. 

I am happy to wake up each morning filled with energy and basically pain free. I am grateful to my acupuncturist, whom I visit every two weeks, and to my massage therapist, who has returned to work and sees me once a month. In both offices, I must put my coat and other clothes in one specific place, and everything is sanitized thoroughly between clients. I know some people would be uncomfortable with it, but there are some things I am willing to risk for the larger benefit. Plus, I'm pretty sure I already had the virus and just want to make sure I don't risk anybody else's health.

So that's what is happening in my little corner of the world. I managed to get through the entire post without mentioning politics (other than about the president being hospitalized), and that did take a little bit of doing. As we approach the election in less than a month, I am hoping that everyone will be able to cast a ballot safely, and that you, my dear virtual friends, will remain safe and free of disease. And that you will find your own ways to find serenity every day. It is available to each and every one of us, if we give it some focus and energy. And every one of us has the ability to find happiness in our daily life, if we will look around to find and count our blessings. 

Always say 'yes' to the present moment... Surrender to what is. Say 'yes' to life—and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you. —Eckhart Tolle

And with that quote, I will leave you until we meet here again next week, and I truly wish you all good things. Be well.


Linda Reeder said...

I'm hosting a birthday brunch for Tom and Jan this morning, so of course I woke up way too early and couldn't get back to sleep. I am not pain free and serenity might be a ways off, but I will work on at least enjoying myself in the company of family that I love. Even without that fancy new watch of yours, I'll try to remember to breathe.
Have a good day. Maybe the sun will find its way through the fog today.

gigi-hawaii said...

Sorry to read about your broken finger. Hope it improves. I try to say yes to the present moment though I struggle to do so. Count your blessings, I always say.

ApacheDug said...

I have to admit I read this with a little guilt, DJan; what you consider a lesser active lifestyle because of the pandemic... I wish I could get motivated to do half that. I enjoyed reading about your Apple watch too, I hope in the weeks ahead you can share a little more about it. Glad to hear your pinky is improving (I read about your fall on another blog), and my gosh that’s wonderful about your dear partner improving so steadily too. I’ve actually been reminded of you all this week, as it’s been foggy, damp & chilly here in Pittsburgh; we usually just keep on with summer until the first of November when we get our first snow! Anyway, hope you have a healthy, good week ahead.

Rian said...

DJan, I'm so glad that you have your walks to keep you going... and your watch sounds interesting. I have to admit that once I retired, I no longer wear a watch. It was one of the things that meant my time was now my own... silly maybe, but important to me (I do have my iPhone if I need to know that time). But I have to admit though that my iPhone is used for almost EVERYTHING BUT talking or telling the time.
So glad to hear that your hubby is doing so well. That is wonderful. You two are blessed.
We haven't dropped our guard here... still sheltering at home... not taking any chances except to go to the doctors when needed (that is chancy too but some things are a necessary risk).
On another note, I will continue to read blogs, but may give up posting on blogger since it is getting so difficult...

John's Island said...

When I started reading Eye this morning I was hoping it would put a smile on my face … it usually does. Well, it did indeed! :-) I was impressed with your walk to Arroyo bridge in Arroyo Park. I had not heard of it and so looked it up on Google Maps. What a great Park and it might be great for me … a little day trip up to Bellingham and walk around the Park. The news of the last week has been dreadful and your suggestion to find pockets of serenity is perfect. Your new Apple Watch sounds wonderful. I’m going to give some serious thought to trying one out. I especially like the calming feature that reminds to follow the breath. I wish you continued improvement re the injury to your little finger. As far a typing goes, that’s one of the least used fingers. (Trying to see the positive in it.) Very happy to hear that SG is doing better. And appreciate the positive outlook, “happy to wake up each morning filled with energy and basically pain free.” At our age it doesn’t get much better! Lastly, wondering if John had his shoulder surgery and, if so, how is he doing? Maybe you will give us an update on him next week. Thanks for another fine post and have a good week ahead.

Arkansas Patti said...

Serenity is a bit elusive these days but can be done. Your new watch sounds fun. I am still working with a primitive fitness band but it keeps me on time, counts my steps and lets me know how I slept. I'm good. Sorry your finger might be permanently bent. I have one of those and you will never even notice it after a while as you work around it. So glad SG is doing to well. That has to make you smile.

Elephant's Child said...

I do love your Sunday posts in particular. They are a reminder to me of much that is good in my world, your world...
And LOVED hearing that SmartGuy is doing so much better.
I find my serenity in the garden (which is also where I get a lot of my insufficient exercise).
Your adaptation to technology shames me. I am not nearly so skilled.

Anvilcloud said...

You seem to be enjoying your watch. I think maybe it is doing more than Sue's.

Gigi said...

You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear of SG's progress!

I wish I could say I was shocked that we are still dealing with this virus - but I'm not.

I have already voted by mail and received notification that my ballot has been accepted. So, I can cross that one of my list.

Marie Smith said...

The temperature of 15 C is perfect for walking. We had 12 C for a bike ride today, cool but nice.

The Apple Watch is a great toy. My husband loves his. I don’t even wear a watch any more. I like the non plugged in time.

I am glad to hear your husband is doing so well and I hope your finger fully recovers. We have to do a lot of adapting as we age. I get tired of it sometimes but I better get used to it!

Red said...

Hey, you didn't tell me about that finger! What are you trying to do? Make yourself look better in the election? Okay. Enough silly. I hope you make a rapid recovery with no problems.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Good news about Smart Guy!!

After a finger is broken it starts to heal so unless you want it broken again and put back in place ...I would stay away from the Dr. Sounds like you did the best you could splinting it to another finger for support. It may come around and be more flexible in time.

You are really enjoying your watch...good for you! Tech is wonderful some times!
I hope you have a wonderful week. Only one medical appt this week that I am aware of. Practically a week off, I will need it Friday and Saturday as I am scheduled for my flu shot on Thursday afternoon and it always makes me sick for several days. I read where that is just an amped up response by antibodies...lucky me:(

Betsy said...

It sounds like you're really enjoying your new toy, (the watch). I have a fitbit and when I first got it I was amazed at how much it motivated me to move more. My cardiologist recommended I get one after I got my pacemaker. He wanted to me be able to record my heartbeat hourly for awhile even though the PM does it automatically when it's downloaded.
I'm glad your husband is doing so much better. It sounds like he is doing very well getting out and about.
The virus is so worrisome but we try to find activities that are still isolated. This weekend we took the little trailer out camping and we did a lot of hiking with Chloe.
Take care.

Rita said...

Glad SmartGuy is better and better!
Enjoy your new toy.
I think you did your best for your finger.
So glad you are able to do the things your body needs and have such good friends. :)

William Kendall said...

Buses here have had the same requirement almost from the start of all this. I rarely take buses though, since most of what I need to get to is within walking range.

Margaret said...

I love Eckhard Tolle quotes. Fingers(and toes) are very easy to break, and I'm not sure what they can do about it after the fact. Thank you for avoiding politics. I'm heartsick about what's going on and trying to remain in a bit of a calming bubble. I've thought about an Apple watch, but would like to have my son-in-law around to help me figure it out. Unfortunately, they live 2,800 miles away.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, as one of your readers, I'd like you to know that serenity oozes throughout your posting and soothes my spirits. Thank you. One Sunday evening over three weeks ago, I found myself thinking of politics and discovered a core of anger within me. Then, as I accepted the anger and stayed with it, I discovered that beneath that was a deep pool of sadness. An overwhelming sadness it seemed to me.

Anger. Sadness. Even Joy can be stressors. Dr. Paparella--the Meniere's doctor who operated on my mastoid bone back in February 2007-- said to me many months later, "Dee, stress exacerbates Meniere's. You need to live as a life that is as stress-free as you can make it." I done a fairly good job of that except when I demand too much of myself.

Realizing the anger and the vast sadness more than three weeks ago and knowing they were stressors, I went on a fast from political news. I haven't watched/listened to the PBS Newshour or national news since then. Nor have I read from the digital NewYorkTimes to which I subscribe, nor used Facebook to collect information. I've also refrained from talking about politics with family and friends. And oh, I feel so much lighter. Much more content. As you say--serene. It's been a gift that I am going to continue to give to myself until after the election. Peace.

Trish MacGregor said...

So good to know your partner has improved so much!

Glenda Beall said...

As you can tell from my blog post today, I have been rather stressed this week, but I see serenity coming for the weekend. So glad you have the watch. Sounds fabulous. I had a cheap version of a fitness watch and I loved it until it broke. It kept me motivated to move more.
So very glad that Smart Guy is improving and doing well.
Yes, we won't be like we used to be, but as long as we can adapt to the new, we will be fine. Adapt is my word for the year along with Accept. What else can we do?