Still hanging on…

This post is more of an FYI than anything else. I’m hanging on, grimly, until the final audit of the year is over on Wednesday evening. I fully expect to collapse at that point and I’m working from home on Thursday/Friday so absolute basics only.

It struck me then that my absolute basics has changed over time. These days, food, shower, clean clothes are the absolute basics. Almost everything else can wait a day or two (And if I’m honest, shower and clean clothes can be pushed out for a day as well in emergencies).

But anything more than a day or two? Movement, meditation, connection with people all come into it. I’m an introvert, in that I gain energy from being alone primarily, but I still need solid connection with people on a regular basis as well. Even if it’s a random WhatsApp message or Facebook like or something – anything more than a day or two with zero contact whatsoever, and I start to feel the effects.

Of course, there are people I’d be perfectly happy never to hear from again, but those sods rarely live up to expectations.

We can survive almost anything life throws at us with the right support systems, in the general run of things, but we need to recognise what those support systems are and how long we can survive without them. So if one friend is busy or otherwise engaged for a few weeks or months, I’m ok. If ALL my friends were busy or otherwise engaged for a few weeks or months – I’m going to suffer.

If you’re not hanging on by the skin of your teeth, now might be a good idea to have a look at what support systems you have, what are absolutely vital and essential, which ones have a bit of redundancy built in (redundancy in the engineering sense here, whereby if one bit fails, it’s ok, there’s another bit to pick up the pieces), where you feel exposed, where you feel comfortable.

And then see if you need to change any of that.

Because, we all have work to do and it’s a damn sight easier when those support systems are there when needed, rather than frantically trying to build them in an emergency.

Endurance, Determination and Pure Stubbornness

I didn’t post on Sunday. I was just pure exhausted and took the weekend off to sleep and read. It was badly needed after an intense audit in work and just general mid-COVID fatigue. And she herself gave me a good slap up the back of the head to remind me about self care.

I was reminded about the need to look after myself in one of the Irish Pagan School groups, when I found myself reassuring someone that there is No One True Way, there is no One Size Fits All when it comes to spirituality and, indeed Irish spirituality in particular. Our individual practices can look extremely different and yet be in right relationship for us.

Why is this titled Endurance, Determination and Stubbornness? Well, because there are times when life itself needs all of the above and the lines and delineations between the three become blurred at best and nonexistent at times. I’m clinging on to my current practice by the skin of my teeth right now. It’s been cut right back because of business at work mostly, but also because of the level of background stress I’m under.

My practice at the minute consists of a book I’m writing on Brigid, a commitment of 2000 words a week. I skipped last weekend, but I’m still ahead of schedule so that’s not too bad. It’s also including some breathing exercises and a daily walk on the treadmill. (If I’m honest, the daily walk on the treadmill is not so daily)It’s also including sleeping habits, eating habits and self care in general. Last weekend it included a ritual bath – which is very similar to a normal relaxing bath for me except instead of reading a book, I lie back and meditate or journey. Or pray. Or sometimes a mix of all three.

I’ve got a break in work coming up in 3 weeks time and I am literally hanging on by my fingernails until that time. I’m hoping for a mental break at that point to be able to reset and recuperate before the Christmas break. And that mental break is also part of a spiritual practice.

It’s really, really easy to think we need to keep going all the time at 110%. It’s really easy, especially with someone like Brigid, to think we have no options but to keep going. But we do – we always have options. 2020 has been a shit year. COVID 19 has had a massive impact on the whole world and there’s this underlying stressor in the zeitgeist about that whole thing. Then we add in the usual day-to-day stressors – work, family, friends, home, money, life…. People are still falling in love, falling out of love, managing kids, not having kids, struggling with a relationship, dealing with abuse, dealing with something they’re not sure is abuse or not, dealing with insecurities, worries… all with the added layers of a global pandemic.

We don’t have to go at 110% all the time. In fact, if we try, our bodies or our minds tend to force us to take that break. So have a look at your life right now and if you, like me, are hanging on by a thread – make some plans. Maybe you can’t take even 5 seconds right now, but plan for when you might be able to.

What can you do to help yourself cope right now? And don’t forget, praying for help is always an option!!!

Brigid and Sovereignty

I read a really interesting article this morning (What is Sovereignty by Bethany Webster: What is Sovereignty ) And of course, it got me thinking, just for a change.

I don’t usually link Brigid to sovereignty, because to me, she does other stuff. Learning my boundaries, establishing those boundaries, experiencing discomfort… Bethany Webster has 13 elements of sovereignty outlined in that article and looking back over my adult life, I can recognise the times when I was working on each and the times when I really wasn’t. For a variety of reasons, there have been long, hard parts of my life where I wasn’t sovereign. I gave up my personal power for a variety of reasons. And it was a long, hard, bloody journey back to reclaim it.

I’m not unlike a lot of women in the modern world here. It’s almost like we’re taught from a young age to give up that sovereignty, that personal agency in this world. Defer to those who are older, who know better, who are louder, more confident… there are so many reasons and ways we are taught to give up that sovereignty. We are taught to put ourselves second, to care for others first. We are taught that we must make ourselves small to keep ourselves safe.

Brigid didn’t do this. In fact, Brigid – whether saint of deity – did the opposite. As deity, she married Bres, thereby giving him the right to be king (that bit might be UPG). As a saint, she pulled out her own eye rather than marry someone she didn’t want to, despite pressure from her father and brothers. She founded a monastical settlement that grew to rival Armagh (Armagh was Patrick’s power centre). She did what she had to do, and while the later hagiographies outline that she was always in agreement with her (male) superiors, her actions show otherwise. She knew what was right and made sure it got done.

I look back over my journey with personal sovereignty and I think of what I gave up and how difficult it was to claim back. Monetary power was incredibly difficult to reclaim. I had myself convinced I couldn’t live without debt, that I was just shit with money, and that I was probably better off handing over my money to someone else to manage. Just FYI, that was not a good idea. But I’ve reclaimed that now and within weeks will be debt free. That’s a journey over over 20yrs I’ve summed up in a few sentences.

I’m stubborn and looking back over this journey I’ve taken, I’m seeing some patterns. Things have to get really, really, really, bad before I’ll change my mind about me. Like close to but not quite at life threatening stage. I got to the point of feeding myself and my husband for less than €15 a month. Yeah… a month. They were a bad few months of some very limited and boring food. Porridge featured a lot… Thankfully, we had a full freezer when that hit so it wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been, but I could see the end coming.

Once I change my mind, I always think it’s going to be a long hard journey – and so far it has been. But I wonder if this is another belief that I need to tackle and reclaim the easiness of life. Let’s hope this one isn’t as arduous as some of the others.

Where does Brigid come into this? Well, she’s not someone to let you off easy, really. She does want me to work this stuff out for myself. When she knows I have the tools, the abilities, the skills, the resources I need to do something… she lets me get on with it. It’s not up to her to wave a magic wand, no matter how often I ask her!! But then the results are more valuable to me because I’ve done the work myself. And as an added benefit, I now trust myself as well.

I trust my feelings, my thoughts, my intuition… I know that if I sense something about a situation or a person, that I really should pay attention to it and investigate why. I know myself – there are things about me I admit to few other people, but I admit them to myself. And because of that, I know that if I get a bad feeling about something or someone, I should pay attention to that.

This doesn’t mean not listening to experts. I have a sore ear at the minute. I’m almost certain it’s a ruptured ear drum. Experience tells me this will probably heal on its own, unless there’s an infection in there as well. Now, I’m not planning on ringing the doc on a Sunday for this, but if I don’t feel better tomorrow or Tuesday, I’ll give them a shout because 1) I might be wrong and 2) if it is an infection, I’ll probably need antibiotics. It’s a matter of balance and not allowing my own thoughts and feelings to be undermined by people who don’t know me, while still respecting that experts are experts for reasons and I am not an expert on medicine. I am an expert on me though!

It’s a balance. All life is a balance really. And don’t forget, balance doesn’t always mean equal. I don’t go to the doctor for every ache and pain, I don’t give them the authority to manage half my life… But the balance is what works for me – your mileage will most probably be different. Learning when to trust is as important as learning when not to trust.

Knowing ourselves, owning ourselves, acknowledging all the disparate parts of ourselves as one whole thing, is hugely important. And Brigid wants this of her followers – she is a healer as well as a smith, both elements feeding into this. If she can take wood and steel and meld them together to come up with a useful tool like a hammer, then she can look at you, no matter how fractured and broken you think you are, and see what might be. And so can you. And even if you can’t see it, trust she can and start the work. Even admitting to yourself that your sovereignty isn’t where it might be can be a good start.

You’re worth it. And you’ll be a better tool for her at the end of it – even way before the end of it.

It’s well worth reading Bethany Webster’s article and looking at what it means to you and what can you do about sovereignty for yourself. Stand on your own two feet, or two bum cheeks, or two hands, or one of each or none of each, but stand for yourself, take a deep, deep breath, take a good look in the mirror and see what stares back. Sometimes the worst thing we can ever face is ourselves.

Fitness

I’m going to write today about a topic that I find very sensitive but is also one I find looming more and more on my horizons as part of my practice with/for Brigid. The topic is, as the title of this post suggests, fitness.

Now fitness can be defined in several ways, but two of them are linked here today 1) physical fitness, cardiovascular fitness and 2) appropriateness for a role or job. I will freely admit that due to issues with an ingrown toenail and other foot related pain, my physical fitness has dropped dramatically in recent years. To the point where physical movement is for the most part painful for me now. This is further complicated by a history of eating and exercise disorders, me being fat ( don’t bother, I don’t see it as an insult) and a few decades of trying to explain that yes, both of those things are possible.

But my physical fitness does tie into my fitness to do my job and my work for/with Brigid. As part of my role, I need to be able to walk around, stand for long periods, point, move, stretch, lift, carry, etc. And that’s just the day job. Endurance and strength are also needed for my work with/for Brigid, in terms of continuing work past usual working hours, maintaining health so that illness doesn’t distract me from this work (I had a cold the week before last and I won’t hear the end of it for a while cos it knocked me back on a few projects!)

But when I’m at the point where I am now, it can be really easy to say , “I give up, this is just the way things are now!”. From this point on, I need to underscore all I’m about to write with an understanding of the privilege I have here: I have a position in a company where I didn’t lose my job due to physical infirmity; I have spending money; I have space and room in my home; I have a stable relationship; I am educated and have spent time researching and reading up on the topics that will support what I’m embarking on. Not everyone has these challenges. I’m also a stubborn bitch when it suits me and I think it’s going to suit me on this one.

From this week, I’m starting a journey back to where I feel physically fit. It started with a ten min walk on a treadmill (arrived last week) that I completed in my jammies before starting my day. I felt hot and sweaty and uncomfortable after this walk, but I did it. Now as far as targets go – my goal right now is to make a habit of walking every day Monday to Friday. I know that if I do this, the walking will become more enjoyable and this will make sitting at a desk all day more comfortable/ tolerable.

With regard to Brigid on this, well she’s mainly concerned with me being able to do the work she wants me to do. She also wants to make sure I’m able to keep myself safe, and that includes removing myself from danger if need be. I don’t think it likely that will involve running from an animal predator, but certainly running from a human one (ok, walking quickly) might be something I need to do. Plus, she’s really a “holistic health” person and while emotionally and mentally I’m not doing to badly right now, she knows that physically I’m suffering from a few different things that regular movement will help with.

It’s not impossible to work for/with Brigid if you’re physically unfit, or if you measure fitness differently than I have here. How you measure fitness, how you prioritise this, is entirely up to you. And even working with Brigid, you may decide this is a lower priority than something else – seriously, you know you better than anyone else! This isn’t really about the fitness. It’s just the example of what she might push you to do.

To that end, while I can surmise, suppose, imagine why this is important right now, I don’t really know, but I do trust that she asks this for a reason. It’s not more important than writing my Brigid book, it’s not more important than my day job, but it’s up there. And it will lead to a more enjoyable next summer for me, so y’know, good all round.

Here’s the thing. We may have our own ideas about what makes us fit or not to work with this or that deity, but frankly, they have their ideas as well. And it’s when our ideas and their ideas overlap, that things get very efficient. So, I know that ten mins of walking once off won’t make a huge difference to me, but I also know that starting off with ten mins of walking a day and continuing to do that day after day, will lead to 15mins of walking, maybe even an hour of walking. That will strengthen my body, ease out my muscles stiff from day after day of desk work, improve my thinking, improve my energy levels…. And I know that making this 10mins a devotional act means I’m more likely to continue with it in the longer term.

The sacred and the profane don’t have to be as separate in our lives as we think. Something can be useful to us and also an act of devotion. And fitness isn’t always what we imagine it to be either. What is your deity asking of you right now that will probably make you more “fit” in one way or another? And what are you going to do about it?

Unless my spirituality is intersectional, it’s just oppression dressed in light

The quote above is taken from Meggan Watterson’s “Mary Magdalene Revealed”, a book I may do a book review on soon. But the quote hit me to the core this morning about 4am as I read it. (Yes, I had one of my sleepless nights, so I finished off my last Benedict Jacka novel and started on Mary Magdalene).

The quote is obviously a play on Flavia Dzodan’s “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit.” (Please see her original post here: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/ )

But the quote on spirituality is also important. Layla F. Saad (here: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/) addressed her remarks on the topic directly to white women claiming to be spiritual. A small group of friends I have ongoingly comment on the “light and love” crowd in modern spiritual circles – you know the ones, all is light and love, you get what you attract, raising your vibrations will help you escape anything. Which is decent good advice… as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough.

And this is where I come back to Watterson’s quote above. Spirituality and social justice have been taking an increased portion of my life in recent years. As readers of this blog and any of my other work around the place will know (I say that as if I’m published all over the place, but here, if you have listened to any of my talks over at the Irish Pagan School, or seen what I write about on Facebook, you will be familiar with the following): I’m an Irish Catholic. I mostly call myself a Pagan Catholic these days to acknowledge I also reach back to pre-Christianity for my spiritual life. I work primarily with/for Brigid out of the Irish pantheon, but I also have relationships with the Virgin Mary and St Therese of Lisieux. It seems I’m going to be developing something with Mary Magdalene as well, but that’s another story.

Social justice is an important part of my spirituality. My mother calls it a “social conscience”, and claims it’s an essential part of Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. (all practical evidence to the contrary, Catholics are called on in both the Bible and in the Church teachings to help those less well off, or who are in need of help). And part of that social justice is recognising that we’re not all starting on a level playing field. There is a large part of the spiritual community that seems focused on the energy you attract, the vibrations you resonate to, the people and actions you attract through your own thoughts, feelings, prayers etc. This ignores some of the more basic issues at hand.

If you and your family don’t have enough to eat, no amount of meditation or vision boarding is going to solve that. If you and your family have no place to live and no money to buy or rent someplace to live, no amount of visualisation is going to actually get you that roof over your head. If you and your family have no clothes, no transport, no work, praying is useful, but more practical steps are probably going to help more.

As a Catholic, of whatever flavour, and a follower of Brigid, and an Irish person, helping those who need it is bred into my bones. Generations of oppression, abuse, rape and pillage are bred into my DNA. My ancestors knew oppression (although they were NOT slaves, feck off with that bullshit now!) and that memory has been passed on to me. How can I, as a modern, mostly unoppressed, independent person not help those in need then? As satisfying as it can be to give money to help someone directly, do I not also have a duty to work to eliminate the systems of oppression keeping people poor, cold and hungry?

Recognising that we’re not on a level playing field is step one. Then comes seeing how uneven that playing field is, and what forces are maintaining that unevenness. Then, we look to dismantle those forces and systems and replace them with better. For example, technically in Ireland, we have free education up to age 18, or the Leaving Cert. (Technically, the primary degree in 3rd level is free as well, but since registration fees are now up to 3k euro, I don’t think that can realistically count as “free”) And the vast majority of kids stay in school til they’re 18 these days as well. (>80% people take the Leaving Cert these days). However, any parent will tell you between uniforms, books, outings, exam fees…. education is not free. And that assumes that the child can get to school as well. While our schools are much smaller in general than in the UK for example, outside of urban areas, there can be a long travel time each way for a child to get to school at all. And that’s before we consider those children currently under direct provision and the extra stress and strain this puts on education.

So already, we have travel times, availability of transport, availability of subjects in schools, teacher/ student ratio… and all of this before we consider if the child in question has a safe home environment, enough food to satisfy them and be pleasant to eat, heating, facilities for clothes washing… there are so many ways our “free education” still doesn’t ensure a level playing field.

And that’s just one area to look at. For a child stuck in poverty, telling them to raise their vibrations to improve their lot is cruel. But working to improve the systems that led to their family’s poverty and making sure the path out of poverty is available to each individual and the family as a whole? That’s important spiritual work.

It’s also dirty work. It’s political, campaigning, developing new systems and structures, working within and without the frameworks we already have. It doesn’t allow us to take a step back, maintain our separateness, our detachment. It’s having arguments and disagreements with people, it’s saying outright “This is wrong and we must change!” It’s being emotional and using that emotion to good purpose. It’s not necessarily serenity, it’s not yoga in inspirational places, it’s not yoni eggs, or mandalas, or white clothing. All the prayer in the world must be backed up with action to make changes. It’s that simple.

There’s nothing wrong with being serene, with practicing yoga in gorgeous locations, using yoni eggs or whatever. These are all pretty cool things and have a role to play in life. But they don’t help the kid shuffling to school in ill fitting clothing, with no breakfast, no books, yet another day of being berated for things outside their control… and it doesn’t stop the next generation going down the same path.

If our spirituality is intersectional, it means we’re looking out for one another, even and especially those that don’t have the same background and outlook on life as we do. What is the point of being spiritual if we don’t leave this world a better place than it was before we came into it?

Honesty

I’m currently working on a post exploring how you can tell if Brigid is calling you, but that’s taking a while to percolate. And in the meantime, “honesty” came up as a topic to explore. I’m hoping this will take a bit less time than the call post to be honest, but we’ll see how it goes.

A few years ago, being honest became very important to me. I had just done some work on how I want to be seen in this world and honest was high up on the list, as was someone who can be trusted. Now, the “trust” aspect I may have to address elsewhere, but the “honest” one I’ll address here.

I started off by looking at myself in the mirror and examining what I thought about my life. In many ways, I was living a very dishonest life. I was working for a place that I didn’t approve of, I was dealing with people on a daily basis who had very different opinions and views on world than I did, I was pretending major parts of myself didn’t exist. I was working for managers that didn’t tie in with what I thought ethical management was about.

So, I started exploring what I would like life to be. I started job searches that, yeah, ok, still included companies that I didn’t feel aligned with my values and principles, but were better than the ones I was currently looking for. I did some therapy on my past and admitted to myself that many major moves in my life, I viewed as a chance to start over and forget the person that existed in me previously. Assimilating all that was difficult.

These days with other people, I’m pretty honest. Other than answering “I’m grand” when I’m blatantly not, I mostly tell the truth. (OK there are occasions when I answer “yeah, we’re working on that right now” when we really weren’t up until the question was asked, but hey, I’m an engineer…)

Where I find it most difficult to be honest, is with myself. When I look at some of what’s happening in the world today, admitting to myself how this makes me feel, what emotions, thoughts and feelings are coming up for me, how I initially react versus how I think I should react… all these things are difficult. On less weighty matters as well -when my husband does something that really annoys or upsets me and I try to brush it under the carpet, swallowing down my feelings instead of addressing them, even if only to myself.

Admitting how I truly feel is a big deal to me. For much of my life there were only certain feelings that were acceptable and it’s taking a long long time to educate and practice my way out of that mindset. Equally, I’m conscious that I want to be viewed a certain way by this world and don’t want to be attacked for my views – sometimes this makes it harder to voice those views and opinions, even among family and friends.

But honesty, like charity, starts at home. And I am not living an honest life, if I don’t be honest with myself. You know all those films where the protagonist has to go through a series of trials and then in the last trial, they have to face themselves? Well there’s a reason for that. Sometimes ourselves can be our hardest critics, enemies, etc. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror is a gift that is probably hugely underrated. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror and like what we see – even more so.

I know I am still not being 100% honest with myself about certain areas of my life. There I things I wish were different, but are not so easy to change, so I try to persuade myself I am happy as they are. I’ve mastered the ability to be honest in work, even when the outcome of that honesty is less than pleasant, but I’ve not mastered the same ability in my own head.

So it’s a work in progress and it’s probably some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. But it’s important. Brigid doesn’t ask us to stay the same forever – in fact she asks the opposite. Yes, there might be years or decades when growth might be measured in millimetres, but that’s ok, as long as there’s growth. Lack of change leads to stagnation. None of us (I hope!) would be completely happy to still be the person we were 10 yrs ago, or 5 yrs ago, although there may be aspects of those people that are still very valuable.

Brigid wields the hammer but she expects us to do a lot of the work ourselves. Cos if she has to do the work, it gets a lot less pleasant. Here’s an exercise to try: look into a mirror. See how long you can last, just looking at yourself. What thoughts come up for you? What feelings and emotions come up for you? How long can you look at yourself? Spend a few mins recording what comes up as well – this may not be as easy as you think. And remember to think of good things as well as areas for improvement. Now what do you want to do about that? How honest can you be with just yourself as judge and jury?

When you want to do the work but…

So it’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Ireland. It’s about 20C outside (which is bloody warm for this country!), the birds are singing, there’s isn’t a cloud in the sky. And I’m sitting in a dodgy portacabin, dealing with numerous minor and not so minor catastrophes, while maintaining spend, uplifting morale and generally being a Pollyanna figure for anyone who isn’t as chirpy. In short – I’m an engineer running a shutdown.

Now, shutdowns for engineers are what we live for – we get to do all the stuff we wanted to do for the last X years, get things back to right, make things look good, etc, etc, etc. It’s a wonderful, manic, stressful, energising, hectic, action-packed time. And that’s before something goes wrong 🙂

It’s also part of doing the work -the people working for me during this shutdown may not work with me full time, but they are my community during this time and it’s up to me to set the tone. There are things I will not compromise on, of course -safety is also first, the quality of the work is important, communication (respectful communication) is key. (Those who work with Brigid may recognise some of the above as part of her mission statement as well.) But there’s no need to be a slave driver, treating people like animals. I try to assume that people are doing their best and work with that.

It means when things go wrong, people tend to be honest with me -those who work with me anyway, those who don’t know me so well, might be a bit more cautious. I can look very snarly at times from afar…

And now on a Sunday afternoon, I only have 2 contractors on site, so I have a bit of downtime. Well, I’m still here in work in case something goes wrong with those two contractors, but still, it’s not as hectic. And I got to thinking back to a comment I made of a conversation I had a while ago, about Brig’s role in Caith Maith Tuired. We don’t get much detail on what she’s doing but I can imagine. Now fair warning: HERE BE DRAGONS (or at least, what follows is pure UPG, not lore!!)

I can imagine as the king’s wife, the link to sovereignity, the Dagda’s daughter, she’s able to fight, but she’s not in the front lines. I can see her in the organisation side. She’s making sure people get fed, people are healed, weapons are made and distributed, the support workers are organised, etc, etc, etc. She’s supply chain and engineering and finance and all the other support functions that come along to make the front line look good. It’s ridiculously similar to an engineer running a shutdown. Ok if there’s a part we need urgently, I’m unlikely to run off and get it, but I’ll be coordinating the people getting the part, the people needing the part and the people paying for the part. (Yup, usually at least 3 different groups there!)

Brig is there making sure the drinking water is safe and clean, she’s keeping the food good, she’s lifting the spirits and giving people heart. OK, a shutdown, not the same as the major conflict (part 2) that is CMT, but you’d be amazed at the similarities.

So I’m doing the work. And I’m looking at other people doing the work as well. The contract owner who’s bringing in snacks and chocolate for his team every day. The team leader running around at 6pm to make sure the night shift has the capability to make themselves a cuppa at 2am, even with the power out. The factory manager checking in with key people to make sure they’re ok and they have the support they need. If I asked any of those people about doing the work in the context I talk about on this blog, they wouldn’t have a clue about what I was talking. But they still do it.

it’s interesting to look around you. I’ve been in before 5am yesterday, by 5:30 this morning. It’d be easy to start feeling like I was doing something special or better than others, but other people were here too. I’ve been in a lot of pain this week – my period finally arrived after 63 days and it’s pretty bad pain wise -but so are other people. I’m not the only one to be popping painkillers to get through this week. (Not heavy duty ones though, we are at work!!) I could look at the hours I’ve clocked up and the salary I get and start questioning the balance, but then I look around at the people here working with me, all pretty much working towards the same objectives, working as a team and it becomes more than all that.

I like to link my work to aspects of Brigid. It helps me be a better person ( or what I consider a better person) and it helps me feel part of something bigger -that I’m not waging a futile existence that will have no impact on this world at all. It makes me feel that I can make a difference in this world, even if it’s only a tiny, miniscule difference, and leave the world a better place.

There are a lot of people who do that sort of work without the assistance of deity and fair play to them. I do it better with that assistance, or moral support or whatever you want to call it. So I’m taking time this afternoon, in a bit of quiet time at work, where I can spend some time with her in a place I usually don’t have this peace to do it and I’m appreciating these people I see around me. I appreciate these people doing this work and just getting on with it. I appreciate these people who come to work, even in these scary times, to help the rest of us do our jobs.

Most of all, I appreciate her for helping me see this and appreciate it.

When you don’t want to do the work

This morning, I don’t want to do the work. This morning, I want to curl up and forget the world and pretend it’s all not happening. This morning, I want things to magically, effortlessly change without me having to put in the work. So what do we do then? How does our deity (and it’s Brigid I’m relating to here) react when such a thing happens?

Well here’s the thing. I’ve committed to her that this blog will get written. It’s a struggle this week, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, but I’m still posting something this morning. It’s personal ramblings rather than anything more profound or revealing but I’m still posting. So I’m maintaining that side of things. There’s very little else right at this point in time that I’m committed to on a regular, ongoing basis other than remembering her. But there is other work that I need to do.

Now this work is personal, it’s usually private, it’s not something I tend to speak publicly about in general. It’s working on healing my past trauma, my past pain, my past in general (my past, like many others, is not a pretty, pleasant place). And that’s the work I’m struggling with right now. I don’t want to do it any more. What good is it doing me???

Intellectually, I know it’s doing me some good. I know it’s helping me understand myself more, heal a bit better, deal with the past in ways that are etched into my flesh and bone. But it’s also hard, ongoing, relentless and neverending. It is unlikely I will ever reach a point where I’m saying, “That’s it now, I’m fixed, I can stop doing this” because life is… well life. New trauma, new pain, new wounds happen all the time. Sometimes even the joyous times cause effects that need to be dealt with.

But right now, I’m on day 49 of my menstrual cycle and I’m not pregnant. I know this is likely as a result of stress and the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 virus, but it’s still hard to take. And I feel it deep in my womb that this hurts.

So, just for today, I’m taking a step back.

Just for today, I’m deliberately not working on myself (which is different from just not doing something by default lol)

Just for today, I’m going to be, in my now, as I currently am.

I may end up taking stock, making an assessment, seeing where exactly is here and now for me, but in terms of the healing, the repairing, the learning… I’m taking the day off.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back on it, but for now, I’m doing nothing.

Community while distancing

I used a planner called the Full Focus Planner to help me organise my life. I like it because it contains a range of features, and makes me think about conscientiously planning my life. One of the things I like about it is that there’s a weekly review that includes space to outline how I will support myself that week. It has various headings included in this section including sleep, move, eat and more but the one I want to talk about this week is “Connect”.

I have to admit, this is a tough one for me. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people, especially when I don’t see them for a while. It means friendships drift sometimes and I don’t like that. However, one upside of the COVID-19 virus is that I’m getting more and more used to checking in with friends virtually. I’m organising and taking part in virtual games nights. I’m looking at how to keep in touch with friends with kids whose lives aren’t always plannable (cos even if the kids do go to sleep on time, parents are often heading to bed at that time themselves just to try and catch up!) I’m having hour long talks with my parents on the phone, instead of the usual weekly duty call (and I’m stretching the weekly there!!)

So now I’m consciously listing out the people I want to connect with each week. It’s not exactly a rota, it’s not on a formal, regular basis, but I am looking at who I’ve not spoken to in a while and depending on their circumstances, make a task to call them, message them or set something with them. It’s a conscious decision rather than leave it to see when it pops up in my brain again and it’s working pretty well. Which leads me to community in this time.

I’m a member of several communities, many of which have developed through a mixture of online and in person events, conversations, etc. I had thought that the communities that were used to conversing and mingling on line would be easier to manage during this time and yet there’s been a definite mix of community response in this time. Equally, with all the social distancing, it’s hard to figure out what’s permitted in our in-person communities.

So I’m coming to some conclusions. One of the most important things I can do for any of my communities right now is just to check in. Ask a genuine “How are you?” or “How’s things?” Give people space to talk and be genuine about their responses. Support the charities who are feeding those who are struggling, who are offering life lines, phone lines etc for those who are in increased danger right now, those who are working to heal those who are ill…. We can support out communities through indirect action as well as direct action. It’s not always appropriate to step out of the house to go do something right now.

And of course there’s the long term actions we can take. Remember that post on energy and money a few weeks back? Well here’s another drip into that – remember when the next election comes around in your area, who do you want to be shaping policies on health, social care, etc? What companies supported the community and which didn’t? Who around you stepped up and supported the community and how will that affect your relationships from here on out?

Now of course there is no call for everyone to step up. Some of us are doing just about ok, or less well, by surviving. Some of us are managing ourselves and our families just about and the energy or spare brain space to take on community work just isn’t there. That’s absolutely fine. And it’s to be commended. If all we can do is lie curled up under a blanket and breathe, that’s fine. We all have different levels of capabilities in all sorts of different areas.

I will say that with a full time job in the food industry, supporting my communities is hard right now. And I look at some of the community leaders out there who have revamped, adjusted, changed their businesses and ways of working to accommodate these times we’re living in and beat myself up over not doing more. But there’s only so many hours in the day and only so much energy available.

So – that part of my planner that allows me to reach out and connect with people, with friends, with family as best I can. And because it’s there in my planner I can consciously make those choices. There are things I’m doing on a weekly basis right now and they’re on a specific list, but there are other things that come up because of something I see in the community, or because of a story I hear, or because of a passing remark.

Our communities are changing shape, changing form, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. And community is so important in the modern world where despite all our technology, it’s really easy to remain alone, be lonely, not actually make a connection with people. So – what can you do? What steps can you take? (And remember, if the answer to that is “exactly what I’m doing right now, no more and preferably less” that’s perfectly fine!!)

Ongoing tiredness

So this coronavirus thing has been going on for a while now and honestly, I can say, the most overwhelming effect on me has been tiredness. I feel tired. Really tired.

Even just looking at the news right now has this wave of exhaustion rolling over me. It’s just depressing, depressing, depressing. There’s nothing really positive coming out of the official news, the reports of people recovering are few and far between, even though people ARE recovering, all we see is the numbers infected and the numbers passed on rising and rising every day.

It’s horrible.

So, what to do? Well this week, I’m back in work. My first morning right now in fact. I’m struggling. I had big anxiety about leaving the house (this isn’t necessarily virus related, I tend to want to be in the house where it’s safe in general…) I had a worry about being stopped by the guards on the way to work. I had a worry about not passing the temperature checks at the gate. I was worried.

But I made it through all that. And so my anxiety is being soothed somewhat. I’m also making sure I have a substantial lunch with me (quiche, apple tart, apple, banana) as well as decent breakfast (granola). I went to bed at 9:30 last night, even after a 2 hr nap in the afternoon, cos I was tired. I had a nice relaxing shoulder rub from the darling husband before going to bed, which was lovely. I ate a small dinner because I really didn’t want to eat. I spent most of the afternoon baking so I’d have food for lunches this week.

I made cookies!

I started this morning with my attempts at a sun salutation (it’s entirely possible a highly experienced yogi might recognise some elements of it, but most people probably wouldn’t, my skill level is low) and some meditation.

I am taking into account right now that at this time, my usual activities and attitudes may not be helping and I need to be more proactive about my self care. (This may or may not have come from a slap upside the head from herself over the weekend!) And let’s face it – yoga and meditation are no bad practices to have in general. They will help and assist me in general once I get the habit re-formed.

It’s so easy right now to look at the world and think, “OK, I’ve got all this time now, I’ll write that book or train to run a marathon” but sometimes that doesn’t help at all. Sometimes, it’s ok to sit on the couch for a few days, with or without the kids, watch crap TV and eat comfort food. Sometimes it’s ok to look at what would help you feel better and take small steps to doing that. Sometimes it’s ok to just to nothing.

We all cope with anxiety and trauma in different ways. My predominant symptom is tiredness, hence writing this post, but I’ve had a lot of practice with depression and anxiety so at least I’m starting to recognise that now. Some people -this is their first bout with this level of anxiety and it’s scary.

Honestly? There’s so many different ways to deal with this, only you will know what works for you. You can experiment. Try yoga for a few days, see how you get on. Try pilates. Try jumping jacks or skipping rope or walking around the kitchen table. Try step ups on the stairs. Try sitting on the couch and thinking about moving. Trying eating ice cream from the tub and watching someone else moving.

For me -coming back into work was important cos a) it’s food industry and well we all need food! and b) for myself, I left the house and overcame that fear. For you, the big step might be something completely different.

And for anyone saying well if I can work from home, I should – yes, sometimes I can work from home, but I’m an engineer my darlins, I need to see shit in person as well sometimes!