We are all tired right now. Pandemic fatigue. Election fatigue. 2020 fatigue.

Too many things have happened this year to bring the collective human spirit either together or apart. Over 250,000 of us have died. Every one of those people had family and friends. How those people left behind manage on now is questionable.

Some have chosen to be angry and be selfish. Something that is simply meant to save lives has been made political. Especially here in the USA I think humans have lost track of what it means to be part of family and friends because we are too close together.

Some of us may live in a rural area, but it is too easy to reach out on technology at the touch of a finger; so we are still figuratively close. There are still areas in our world where humans don’t have technology. It isn’t just a quit pop of thought to grab the device in our pocket or purse.

Less than 100 years ago the idea of going over to see the neighbor took planning. A person’s day was full of doing things necessary for staying close to home and going away from home took time and miles. The use of horses, taking food with you, and maybe not even calling ahead to let them know you were coming. Yet you were welcomed upon arrival.

We honestly take it for granted now that we can reach out in a split second and talk to anyone anywhere. Even the most remote of places can, at times, be reached via 5G or satellite. We want it all and we want it now.

Humans, especially Americans, have grown accustomed to instant gratification and entitlement.

Enter a global pandemic.

Demands for an entire world to not just slow down, but . . .stop. Stay in one place. Don’t see family and friends for days, weeks, months. Figure out out to work a job from home. How to BE with each other, stuck, and falling over each other in a confined space instead of constantly being in motion away from the home.

It may feel like going backwards. We used to not leave our home base for long periods. We grew, cooked, and ate our food at home at a table. We did our schooling at home, often with anything in our surroundings being the stuff of teachable moments. Maybe one day a week a special trip was made into the nearest town for shopping, visiting, or religious escape. This was the life of our grandparents.

Life leading up to 2020 was full of not growing our food, but shopping, sometimes daily for whatever to make for supper or for fast food. Education was supplied, most often, away from home at schools. Our children spent time at daycare while we worked. Families complained of not having enough time to be together.

Suddenly 2020 says now you must all stay together constantly in one building for long periods. Children are in the way. Our jobs either figured out how to work from home or we now don’t have a job. Shopping was done by buying in bulk on one trip. Families now want time away from each other.

We have forgotten how to be. Be still. Be together. Breathe. Relax.

We are angry, sad, frustrated.

That doesn’t mean we should forget about keeping each other safe. Yes, was want to go out. Get away. See people we haven’t seen in months.

Too bad.

Because so many refused to care for how our actions affect others in the first place is why we are having to close down even more now. It’s the holiday season and as American we expect, we demand, we need to celebrate with family and friends. Yet it is that feeling of entitlement that has lead so many to not social distance.

And why so many of us have lost loved ones.

We want to get together with family this holiday season, too. We need to be close. We need to grieve. The virus doesn’t care.

I KNOW we’re used to getting what we want, but right now we MUST think of everyone and not be selfish. I want to see my family, too, but I also don’t want to possibly make them sick. I don’t want to get this.

All I can say is: I miss my brother. A holiday is only a day on the calendar and it only has as much meaning as we give it. Family CAN get together later. We can live video visit. We can use cell phones any time of any day.

Stay home. Mask up.

Please.

Don’t judge family members that fear the virus and don’t want to get together. It’s because we love you that we are staying home.

Stay safe out there.

Now

The thing to do these days is to try to “be in the moment.”

Is this difficult for others? Maybe it’s just a single mom thing, but I seem to constantly be thinking in terms of the future. What’s for breakfast, lunch, or supper? If I don’t do laundry today, will there be enough “?” for tomorrow? What needs to go on the shopping list? Do I have enough cat food and cat litter to get through the week? The PLANNING of life doesn’t seem to coincide with being in “the moment.”

How do others LIVE their life and stay in the moment at the same time?

I guess the Mindfulness Movement isn’t so much about not thinking ahead, but being thoughtful about WHAT you are thinking. I can think and do things at the same time. I think.

It really is difficult to think about what you’re thinking. Our world is full of distractions (did I mention the cats?) I know I am bombarded with self-consciousness about almost everything I do. That may stem from being raised by a narcissist who always made me feel like crap, but I want to give this a good try. I believe I CAN push out the buzzing thoughts that keep me awake at night, but how?

That “monkey mind” seems to be creeping into the background more often than not. I’ve been told to “just stop, and breathe.” Listen to what I’m thinking. Do I really need to think about that or allow it to control my emotions? So I’ve been trying to greet my onslaught of thoughts with “hello, I hear you, but I don’t need you.”

Wanna know who my best teacher for this is? My cat, Ninja. No matter what I am doing, when he needs his Ninja Time he needs it right in THAT moment. I used to push him aside and think he was being obnoxious. Currently, when he jumps up on my lap and I’m mid-search on the computer, reading a book, or whatever I may be doing he continues to head-butt me or the object until I empty my lap and focus only on him. Ninja Time can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10, but during that time I MUST pet and scratch him and do nothing else. He jumps away when he’s done.

So during that time I decided it was also a good time for me to do this be in the moment stuff. I think of how freaking soft his fur is, how loud can I get his purr to go, and wonder what he’s thinking? If thoughts about not finishing what I’d been doing prior sneak into consciousness, I recognize that thought, then try to get back to how calming it is to simply pet my cat. Sometimes he will let me give him an actual cat massage, but he’s not as big on that as my cat, Blizzard, is.

Resting on stillness, simply noticing my breathing is easy when I’m petting the cats. What about at other times, though. Meditating doesn’t come easy when I’m in pain. I like to do walking meditation when walking doesn’t hurt. Enjoy the singing birds. Try to discern the different bird sounds. Hear how the wind makes different sounds depending on where I am on the walk. Breathe in sync with every other step. I wish I could do this stuff without sensory input. I need to visualize, listen, touch, etc, or that monkey mind takes over.

I’ve been told “Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away.” Awaken to experience. Sure, except when I have insomnia. Having a nonjudgmental presence in my awareness just doesn’t work then. My mind is screaming “why can’t I sleep?!” Same thing when I want to snack, but know I don’t need to eat. “Mindful people can hear negative thoughts and feedback without feeling threatened.” I hope to get to that place.

It’s in our culture to shame over eaters, people who are tired at work, nag about things not getting done, and multi-task. It’s near impossible to focus on what’s going on in the room around you when you’re thinking of what you think everyone else’s expectations are for you.

Personally, I think I also have a hand-up to not “hear” all that droning and mumbling in my head. I can shut off my hearing aides! It’s a great pro about being mostly deaf. You really CAN hear yourself think better. I LOVE taking off the aides when I do art or read. The distractions of the room around me just don’t exist, because I can’t hear them. It’s easier for me to get lost in what I’m doing. Suddenly it’s been hours and, wow, look how much I got done!

Maaaaybe that’s not quite what being in the moment means, but I like it. It’s a sudden awareness of how cold or hot the room is, how thirsty I feel because I let my coffee go cold, how sore my hand suddenly feels from doing the art for so long. Instead of thinking ahead of time that my body will get sore, I’ll forget to stay hydrated, and oh ya – the sun goes down when you’re not thinking. Just doing.

Not to say I don’t fear the pain that I know will come, but maybe I don’t notice it as much? I’m not focusing on belittling myself for fearing the coming pain. I’m not avoiding things I “should be” doing. I’m actually enjoying the process. I didn’t think about the drama feelings of what others will think of my art. I’m not stuck on how long it’s taking to get done and will others feel it was worth the time. It really works for me to not hear all those evaluations and/or rejections when I turn off my hearing aides.

I have to admit, too, that I really savor my eating. I think THAT is another area where I am in the moment. I love food. I’m about forty pounds overweight. I KNOW I should eat more healthy. However, I love the taste of good food! I enjoy swishing something really nummy around my tongue and use all the tongue’s different tasting spots to really think about what I’m eating tastes like.

I also savor music. Ironic I know, since I can’t hear all the nuances that someone else might hear due to me hearing loss. I absolutely love good live music. I can close my eyes and see it. Feel it. I can’t go a day without listening to music. It’s often on in the background while I’m doing other things, but when a great song comes on I have to just stop what I’m doing, turn it up, and REALLY listen and enjoy.

I guess it’s all about how you interpret and react to what’s in your mind. It’s self-control.

Oops, had to do a 5 minute Ninja Time there. I’m back. Damn his little face is so beautiful.

I’ve noticed that the more I try doing this Mindfulness the less often I get upset about things that used to get to me. Hmmm, maybe I AM doing it right? I guess I am feeling less bad about having emotions. I’ve been told throughout my life that I was “too sensitive.” Now, I’m getting to be OK with the knowledge that feelings are normal and natural. It’s OK to feel, just not get into all that “wishing” about not feeling an emotion.

No, I’m not resigned to feelings. For example, my pain, I used to get angry at the pain. Angry at my body. I wish…blah blah blah. I can now think it’s OK to be angry, but know that the anger isn’t going to help.

Right now I started to think about what if what I’m writing is rambling nonsense and no one cares?

Guess it’s time to take some Ninja Time.