I’m Looking For Some Hope Today

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View of a rainbow from my living room                       Image: Zebras Child 2019

I’m still devastated by the shooting on Saturday at the Chabad Poway Synagogue in Southern California. This quote, copied from the New York Times, says it better than I can.

And yes, I have put this post under the category of Civil Rights because the first Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees the free exercise of religion.

“This shooting is a reminder of the enduring virulence of anti-Semitism. It must serve as a call to action for us as a society to deal once and for all with this hate. People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship. From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say ‘enough is enough.'” —Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement.

Tree Climbing

Liquid Amber in Summer   ©Zebra's Child
                 Liquid Amber in Summer                       ©Zebra’s Child

When I was a girl, I loved climbing trees. I didn’t have the opportunity very often since we frequently lived in places that didn’t have trees either in the yards nor lining the street. So when I was visiting somewhere where there were trees to climb, I seized the chance. I loved climbing up the tree. My muscles felt good, the climb made me feel strong and in control, and if the tree was tall, the view from up high was fantastic. I loved climbing so much, I would climb up and up until the branches got too thin to hold my weight. I would survey my surroundings, and feel like I was queen of all I could see. There was only one problem. I was afraid to climb down.

Climbing down is completely different than climbing up. Climbing up I could see and reach for handholds and footholds. Climbing down….. not so much. I could glance down to get the general location of the lower branch, but then I would have to look back up to see where I should place my hands and I would have to feel around for the next available foothold. That was the frightening part. I had to trust that my body moving through space would know what to do. Space and I don’t have the most comfortable relationship. My depth perception isn’t completely accurate due to my vision, my balance has been a little off because of repeated severe ear infections since I was a kid,  and my sense of volume in space flat out isn’t reliable, and never has been. I can train my body to move through space accurately if I practice enough: driving, dancing, sailing, yoga. But something like gymnastics where I might fall from the parallel bars? Not a chance.

So climbing trees was an interesting thing to love doing. This was never a case of “Oh no, what have I done?” I always knew when I started the climb that I would have trouble getting down. But the climb up was so exhilarating that I almost always chose to climb anyway. Among other things, I knew that I couldn’t stay up in the tree forever. I would eventually need to eat and sleep, and I could do neither while up in the tree. So I knew from the get-go that I would eventually force myself to climb down. But the climb down never got any easier nor less frightening.

I’ve thought a lot about why I loved it so much, because it was more than just the exhilaration and the view. I think it had to do with the feeling that while I was up in a tall tree, nothing bad could get to me. As a child, I couldn’t depend on my environment. It would be nurturing one minute, and 5 minutes later it still might be, or it might not. I retreated into fantasy worlds based on fictional characters  and settings from the books my mom read to me. I excelled in school, mostly, and that also became a retreat. It took me awhile to figure out how to read (I’m moderately dyslexic), but once I did, then new worlds became available to me any time I opened a book. Worlds where there might be danger, but worlds in which I knew that everything would eventually turn out all right. The characters were so brave in those books. At least once I progressed beyond “See Spot run.” (Spot was a dog, for those of you who didn’t grow up on those readers.)

Here’s the important thing, though. Everything turned out ok in those books because the main character was frightened of something bad, and she faced it. She (or he) not only faced it, she did something about it. It didn’t mean the fear went away. It didn’t mean she just resigned herself to evil. She fought against the bad thing, whether it was a monster, an evil stepmother, or a thief. She fought against it (usually with help from a friend), and she kept on fighting against it until things were put right. Those books of fiction I read when I was a kid gave me the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other with the hope that one day things would be better. I think climbing down from trees even though I was afraid was part of that. I think it was a tangible way that I could prove to myself that I could be brave, even if only for an hour or so.

Upcoming Construction

Hi guys,

Please pardon the dust while I experiment with different layouts for Zebra’s Child. I have begun to get back into a former hobby of mine – photography. While we were in France, I carried my camera everywhere, and I began to realize how much I both enjoy the process of taking pictures, and miss it. I’m more than a little rusty – it hasn’t been an avocation of mine in, ahem…. several decades. Busy raising children, pursuing a career, and all that. But I have been drawn back into the thrill of trying to capture that illusive shot in just a certain way. I’m no where near being a professional, and, as I say, I am certainly rusty. But I am wanting a format for the blog that will showcase my photos, as well as the written content.

To that end, I am going to try removing the header image of the three zebras at the water hole. I love the image, but my thinking process is that the cool zebra image is what grabs people’s attention, and I want to shift the focus to my photos and the written content.

So I’m going to experiment. Being a person with an anxiety disorder, I am someone for whom change is difficult. It is an understatement to say that change raises my anxiety level several notches. I have already spent hours experimenting with the layouts of different themes, and by midnight last night I was thinking that making a change was crazy, and I just should stick to the layout that I have. That would be the nice, safe option.

But when I woke up this morning, I was back to the fact that the zebra header is so prominent that it dwarfs any photos that I put up. And I want to highlight the photos.

So. Here it goes. I’m trying to embrace change. I know that is how we grow. (I will keep repeating that mantra to myself.)

And I tell myself that I can always return to the familiar layout, comfortably nestled in the Chateau theme, if I’m not happy with the new layout(s). I do, after all, really like the picture of the zebras. Give yourselves a few days to get used to a new format, and then please, please let me know what you think. I would very much like your suggestions and comments!

Random Thoughts With No Sleep

Well, the medication to help me sleep has finally completely washed out of my system. I thought it had all disappeared a few weeks ago, but obviously it hadn’t. How do I know? Because then I was able to sleep some nights, and now I can’t. I doze in fits and starts, and probably only sleep solidly for a few hours. And without deep sleep, my blood pressure goes up, as does my anxiety and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

In the 80’s, we were at the height of the drug awareness campaigns in the schools. The counselor at my school had this poster on her door: This is your brain (cue picture of a profile of a head with a brain inside with the little squiggles representing the folds in the gray matter), then below it, This is your brain on drugs (cue a picture of a fried egg in a skillet. Totally fried.).

Well, I don’t have a picture, but this is what my brain looks like as a result of very little sleep over a couple of weeks:

💭  There is not a thought inside the thought bubble because I can’t fit them all in that tiny space. Even though they are short. And random: I should think of a post to write. Gotta write a post. No, wait, I need to sleep. Can’t. Oh well, should tidy up at least the front room. Won’t take long. Will feel better if I do. No, gotta sleep. Can’t. Post. Post. Has to be perfect or no one will like it. Walk dog. Read. Can’t concentrate. Walking will make both the dog and I feel better. No. No energy. Walking will give me energy. Poor dog. Write post. Can’t think of anything. Just sit down and type. Just want to relax. Nap. Rats, doesn’t work. Sleep??? Please? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if I’m just boring and no one wants to read. Gotta be funny. Can’t be funny today. Can’t think. What if I never have any ideas again. Sleep??  Pleeeaaasse? Dagnabbit.

My brain is really more chaotic than that, and I wish I could make it funnier. But in saner moments I realize that half of what makes this writing business work, perhaps more than half, is just showing up. Just writing every day, and slowly, hopefully, getting better at this.

When I started this blog, I thought that every post should have some deep meaningful content. That didn’t work out so well in terms of frequent posting; I would just get frozen for weeks or months at a time, especially since even thinking was more than I could usually manage. And then I’d take days just to write and rewrite one post.

When I came back to the blog this time, I told myself that I would just write whatever was on my mind that day, and get in the habit of posting almost every day. And then go from there. And hopefully both the blog and I would grow. I hope that I am, at least occasionally, writing things that are relevant to you guys as well. I’m trying to give a snapshot of what living with CVID (and various other complicating conditions) is like, so that you others out there do not feel so alone. And if I write about trying to live as normal a life as I can, then that helps me continue to try to do just that.

Do any of you have topics that you would like me to write about? Or thoughts of your own to share? I’d love to hear your suggestions and requests. Please don’t be shy. Leave a comment or send me an email.

And it’s an 8 hour infusion day. Please send your good thoughts.  😘

Comforting

Monday was my first day working at my own school site.  Teaching two days a week is taking more out of me than I had hoped.  But I know part of it is that I’m still nervous about it.  How well will this work?  Can I manage to do it?  How will it work over the long term?  And anxiety, of course, uses energy.  I’m sure I will calm down a little the more I do it.  But I am really, really glad to be back on campus after 11 months. One of my closest friends, whom I normally team teach with, greeted me when I walked on campus with, “So, how does it feel to be back?”  And out of my mouth, without even realizing I was going to say it, came the words, “Comforting.  Enormously comforting.”  My next day teaching is tomorrow…….

Wish Me Luck!

Tomorrow, Wednesday May 19, I go back to teaching two days a week. I won’t be teaching in “my” classroom, since it’s not really mine.  I’ve been fortunate to have had a marvelous sub who has done wonderful things with the kids all year.  I will teach a total of eight days during the balance of the academic year.  Tomorrow will be at the high school, and the rest of the days will be in different classrooms on my own campus.

I’m nervous.  I’ve developed some fever blisters. (Ok, I’m prone to them anyway.  But still, they’re annoying.)  I haven’t been in a classroom in eleven months.  As a veteran teacher of over 20 years, I know that once I step onto the campus, I’ll be fine.  But I fret: Will I get enough sleep?  Will my energy last an entire teaching day?  I’ll be with kids I don’t know.  Sigh.  There’s my anxiety disorder magnifying the problem again.

So.  Would everyone please send lots of good thoughts and encouragement my way tomorrow?  Knowing I have good thoughts coming my way will help a lot!

Thank you Zebra Club!

xoxo