Zebra's Child

Living With Common Variable Immune Deficiency and It's Autoimmune Friends

Category: Mental Health

Fuzzy Focus

The photo below is extremely fuzzy. I only had my phone with me, when what I really needed was my good camera with the telephoto lens attached. The photo that I was able to take showed this egret as a mere speck in the picture. By the time I had enlarged it enough to actually be able to see the bird and its reflection in the water, everything was terribly out of focus. But I love the photo, and decided to use it anyway because two things occurred to me.

1. I am a perfectionist. I have to constantly remind myself that rarely do we achieve perfection in what we do. “Good enough” is also beautiful.

2. During intense grief, everything inside and outside your head feels out of focus except the grief. Your brain can barely process what you see and hear from the outside world. Even the thoughts inside your head are totally jumbled and you feel incapable of rational thought. (Which you more or less are,  actually.) Thankfully, after my husband’s death, both the hospice workers and friends who had been through this themselves told me that all this was normal. Even though that period of constant intense grieving is mostly gone, there are still moments, or days, or sometimes several days when missing him overwhelms me, and everything else in the world feels off kilter and fuzzy.

I decided that this picture, imperfectly capturing beauty, could be a touchstone for me. A reminder to not judge myself too harshly. And a reminder especially to have some compassion for that part of me that still grieves.

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Turtle Speed

Flowers by the Roadside

Flowers by the Roadside                  ©Zebra’s Child

My body’s progress toward healing and infusion recovery is slow but steady. It’s complicated by the fact that I’m still not sleeping well at night. Don’t know whether it’s the heat or just that I’m unsettled. At any rate, one of my solutions when I don’t feel well is to look for beauty. We had to go out for groceries this afternoon, and I saw these flowers along the way. Capturing them on film definitely lifted my spirits.

Weekend Whimsy: Ralf

Ralf the Frog         ©Zebra's Child

                                                    Ralf the Frog                       ©Zebra’s Child

HI. My name is Ralf. I’m a frog. Obviously. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, and all that. Thought I should introduce myself before I told you guys to have a Grrrrrrreat Weekend. If you find any flies out and about, just pass them on to me, please. Thanks. Very much appreciated.

A Profusion of Beauty

A Profusion of Blossoms After the Rain

                    A Profusion of Blossoms After the Rain                                                                                         ©Zebra’s Child

Self Criticism

Cream in my coffee

Cream in my coffee

Such an interesting thing happens when we start to judge ourselves or our work. At first we might be really satisfied with the result, but then we often quickly devolve into finding something wrong. Or we set ourselves impossibly high standards, or we compare ourselves to others instead of comparing ourselves to ourselves. Or…….

That’s especially true, I think, for those of us with an anxiety disorder with a manifestation of OCD. I think everything I do has to be perfect. I have been working many, many years to internalize that perfectionism is not only not necessary, it’s not even attainable. Even if you excel at some things, you don’t excel at everything. In fact, the more expertise you have in one area, the more likely there are other areas of knowledge that you know very little about.

My husband once knew an aerospace engineer who was a world expert in liquid rocket fuel. If you asked him,  “What do you know about liquid fuel?” he would look at you, and without any hubris whatsoever, he would reply, “Everything. I know everything there is to know about liquid rocket fuel.”

If you followed that with the question, “What do you know about solid rocket fuel?” he would answer without the slightest trace of embarrassment, “Nothing. I know absolutely nothing about solid fuel.”

We can’t be great at everything we do. It’s impossible. So why do we think we can? What harsh standards we often impose upon ourselves in an effort to measure up to some imaginary bar rather than simply drinking life in, in all it’s gloriousness.

Yesterday and the day before I was happy with the start I had gotten on this new layout. It is a start. And I was super excited to share some of the images I have captured over the last month or so with my camera. Then I put up this photo of the cream swirling around on the surface of my coffee, and I noticed that it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t, after all, the work of a professional photographer.

In what universe should I be comparing myself to a professional photographer???? I who have never taken a photography class, who have no formal training in art or graphic design, and who hasn’t done even semi-serious photography in about 40 years. It makes no sense at all!

But our emotions often seem to make little, if any sense. They do, however, often give us windows into our psychies, if we let them. And this window into my psyche told me several things:

  • I was too tired. Way, way too tired, and I probably needed a nap.
  • I’d been working at the computer too long without a break.
  • I’d definitely been trying to cull far too many photographs all at once, so my head had become muddled.
  • And…… I probably needed to grab my camera, and take the dog for a walk. Both of those almost always help.

So here is my cup of coffee one morning, with the cream wonderfully swirling and making patterns on the surface for a few scant seconds, offered imperfectly to you with hope that you will be gentle with yourself today. That you will relish new things that you see, or understand, or a new skill you learn. And at the end of the day that you can look back and find at least one thing that you are grateful for. I am grateful that I captured the patterns of the cream swirling on the surface of my coffee.