• Sue McDowell

Still on pause?


Like so many other folks these days, I've been conserving my energy - getting some exercise but then finding I have no energy left for simple tasks and certainly very little energy for social media and the daily deluge of bad news about our current pandemic. I take some solace in begin told this is "normal." But I really, no longer, know what normal is.....it seems to have evolved in so many spaces over my "short-ish" lifespan - so I no longer know what "normal" weather is, or what "normal" kids should be like, or what I should "normally" say or how to "normally" act when I'm in public (public? where's that?). I'm thinking that someone brighter than I needs to come up with a term that can replace normal. Something that takes in that whatever we're experiencing today may not be the same anytime in the future. I'm not being entirely facetious. It would be like the concept that you can never put your foot into the same water in a stream twice (since the water is always moving). Can't we come up with a word for that? I felt I needed to move into a more productive head space so I just looked back at my first post of this new year. I was so full of optimism and plans for dedicated focus that would ward off the nibbles into time that can happen to an ex-project manager in search of new projects. What a change, in the way I feel, from then to now - 3 mos into our stay-at-home orders!

I started to compare a then/now list with the context that I was just checking in .... 5 mos out... to see where I was. I also promised to be kind to myself. To wit:


  • hockey: Well that has been on hold for the pandemic and there is still much we don't know for the Fall. But it does still engage me. We'll consider that a check!

  • art making: I have been productively making class projects as part of the Jane Stafford Online Guild. It's been great. I've been happy weaving. And I love the things I've been making and the depth of my learning. A bonus is that with my head and hands busy I can't dwell on unpleasant things. Check!

  • writing: Gulp...ooops...not only am I woefully negligent on this platform, I've fallen off the bandwagon on my books. The AMFC history did get self-published, but my hockey manuscript languishes. Even admitting this now may be the very kick in the pants I need to re-engage on this? It's been hard to imagine that anyone cares about one person's experiences when the pandemic is in full throttle. And sitting to write means sitting to think...something I am almost consciously avoiding right now (I'm not the only one, right?).

  • health: What can I say here? My personal health is significantly improved and I'm more mobile now than I have been in years. But does that matter in a time when we can't go anywhere? (that's rhetorical since getting rid of chronic pain is always a blessing). And what about the future health - protecting myself and others from the virus that isn't going to go away anytime soon? This takes me down a line of thinking that is all about mortality - and writing - since if I were to die tomorrow I have this manuscript I've been meaning to finish...(insert ironic music now as we circle back to the paragraph above).

  • conservancy: Well, I have gotten back to being on cam at Explore.org and I love getting to watch the new polar bear cubs at Ouwehand. I've also been learning a lot - including new tools (to me) to follow arctic ice (see here) and a very cool visualization of bird migration (see birdcast.info) through Audubon's weekly webinar, I saw a bird. So at least this has been a time of receiving, if not giving.


So there it is..five months out, I guess I am batting what, a B+? Which is considerably better than I feared when I got off the couch to start this. And I think that's the new normal. Not beating myself up when all five points of the star I so imaginatively articulated in January is wonky but still trying to twinkle in May. It's a new dance - balancing a life that allows for serious interruptions on any given day but that also routinely gives me moments of profound joy for which I am, eternally and mindfully, grateful.


An attitude of gratitude. That's not, necessarily, a "new" normal for me. But it is now very front and center in my life in a way that I know I'll maintain.


Namaste.



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