On Chaos, Crisis, & Gratitude

(Photo cred: Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash)

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So, it’s been awhile since I blogged, because seriously, summer was kind of a three-ring circus, and fall is proving no less crazy.  In fact, if we’re being honest, pretty much the whole of 2017 has been NUTS!  There’s some Astrology/Energy stuff that puts this in context, and although having that awareness makes me feel slightly less crazy, it’s still freaking hard to be a human these days!  Am I right?

The last couple of months have seen unprecedented weather events around the globe, there is a political/social shit-storm raging in the U.S., and major injustices are taking place all over the world.  As if that weren’t enough, we all have our daily lives to contend with.  We still have jobs, and families, and personal crises to deal with.  It seems as if time is on hyper speed.  One day runs into the next and you’re like, “Wait?  What?  Where did this day/week/month go?” 

The last few days have been an excellent example of this in my own life.

Yesterday’s saga began in the wee hours of the morning.  I had a dream that someone died, but in my dream, I couldn’t place who it was.  I just know that whoever it was, passed peacefully, thankfully.  The dream kept me awake for a long time. 

This is really nothing new, I’m used to this kind of stuff now, but it still makes for a tiring day.  I then awoke to a message that someone I care about; had indeed lost someone they care about.  Ugh.  Punch in the gut, followed by a feeling of helplessness, because these people are far away, and I can’t be of much support from here.

So… I carried on with my day, keeping them in my constant thoughts, and sending all the good vibes I could muster.  I still had kids to wrangle, one of whom had caught Dad’s cold, and I had a ton of work to do. 

Hubby is out of town, so I’m doing the single parent shuffle for a few days over here.  God bless single parents who can keep their shit together for more than a day.  It’s remarkable!  My house currently looks like something from an episode of Hoarders.  Not. Even. Kidding. 

After kids got off to school, I got to work.  Let’s just say that technology and I were NOT friends yesterday.  Because most of my day was spent dealing with Facebook fuquery, YouTube nonsense, phone follies, and computer glitches.  I know this may sound trivial to you, but when this is your bread and butter, it matters.  True story.  It’s like if you’re a mechanic, and all your tools break on the same day.  Good luck getting anything significant done!

Then, it was kid wrangling, dinner prep (had to clean the kitchen first), more cleaning of kitchen after dinner, some back and forth communication re: the day's events, more kid wrangling, laundry, more technology frustrations, and finally falling into bed in an exhausted heap.

After yesterday (good times), I was really hoping that today would be a ‘new day'.  No such luck.  The Universe seems to have other plans. 

It started with some cat melodrama - Our fur baby has been missing since early July, and we’ve done everything short of hire a Private Investigator to find her.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster – and there was already WAY too much emotional upheaval going on around here before that happened.  But that’s a blog post, or perhaps an entire book, for another day.

Back to this morning. Cat melodrama (turned out to be a false alarm), both kids needed to shower (we have ONE shower in our house), teenage boy is increasingly difficult to rouse since school started, riffling through laundry baskets to find clothes, because who the hell has time to fold laundry?  Lunch making. It’s pizza day – YES!!  But still, snacks – Plus don’t forget the extra sparkling juice to share with the friend. 

All along, cat melodrama is still playing out on FB, and via email, hubs is still out of town (home later today, hallefreakinglullah), kid’s still sniffly, and NOW also full of giant red welts that may, or may not, be mosquito bites from playing outside last night.  Frantic searching for ‘itch cream’ ensues. 

Damn! Forgot about the form that needs filling out and returning to school. (How much paper does that school hold?  I think it might be a fire hazard).  Also, “Where are my ankle socks?”  More rooting through laundry baskets.  “Do you have an elastic for your hair?” 

Finally, kids out the door to school.  Cat melodrama continues.  Just about to take my first sip of coffee, and the phone rings.  I consider not answering, but it's the school.

“Mom, it’s anti-bullying day, we were supposed to wear pink.  Can you bring us some stuff?”  I seriously can’t even.  “SHIT!” I DID write that on the calendar, but who has time to look at the freaking calendar??  Frantic searching for anything pink. Did I mention about the laundry?   

I toss the stuff in a couple of bags, run a brush through my hair, and over my teeth (not the same one – although who could blame me at this point?), throw some clothes on, head out the door to discover that some critter tipped over our green bin, took the bungees off, and left a nice mess of gross compost all over the deck.  UGH. 

Having no time to deal with it just then, I left the gross mess, and hauled my ass over to the school to drop off the pink.   Because, motherhood – I signed on for this, and it IS anti-bullying day.  Although I think a better way to combat bullying, is to not raise kids who are bullies.  Just sayin’.

I return from the school.  Standing frazzled in my kitchen for a minute, I feel like there’s something I should be doing right now, and think, “Why is it so quiet?” 

Then, I remember to breathe.  And I stand there, doing nothing but breathing, for about a whole minute. 

I can feel the calm slowly start to creep back in.  This gives way to the thought – “Get a grip.  Things could be a whole lot worse.”  Then I laugh (because what the hell else are you going to do?), and I start mentally listing off all the things I’m currently grateful for. 

This grounds me enough to calmly, and mindfully, make myself a healthy breakfast, sit down to eat it slowly, make myself another cup of coffee (the first one I made three hours ago is cold), and make my way up to my office to write this post.

And so, Dear Human, who also undoubtedly has days like these, I’ll leave you with my current gratitude list, as a reminder to you (and me), that gratitude is a damn powerful antidote to chaos and crisis.  Gratitude injects calm in the midst of mayhem, and allows us to remain grounded and peaceful, as the eye of the storm.

Things I am currently grateful for…

I have people that I care about in my life.  A lot of them.  People who make my heart hurt, when their hearts are hurting.  People who's hurt I would gladly take away, if I could.  That means my life is full of love, and THAT is everything.  I could stop my list right here, in fact.  But there's more...

I live in one of the safest, most stable places in the world.  Like the entire world.  That’s crazy!  I remember a National Geographic map I once had, that was marked with all the natural disasters, and seriously major weather events that had taken place throughout history.  There was one obviously bare spot on the map – the Canadian Shield.  I freaking live in the middle of the Canadian Shield!  Massive gratitude for that.

I am not a single parent… you all deserve medals.  Nor am I a parent with a partner/spouse who is completely disengaged.  I know situations like this, and I shudder to think.  In fact, I grew up in a house where my dad was gone most of the time for work.  It wasn’t always a hoot, and proved even less so over time.  My husband has to go out of town on occasion, but not that often, and I’m thankful that my kids are growing up with their Dad fully on board, and present. 

I have healthy kids, who get normal stuff like colds, and insect bites.  I also have the resources to buy stuff like good food, natural medicine, vitamins, and itch cream, to ease their woes, and keep them healthy.  Not to mention, the access to these things.

I do work that I love, that allows me to be authentic in the world, and to help others.  I make my own rules, and my own schedule, which allows me to do things like run off to the school to bring my kids pink clothes.  I’m not a millionaire, but so far, we’ve managed, and I wouldn’t trade the freedom for anything.

My kids care so much about participating in anti-bullying day, that they called me from school to ask me to bring them stuff, even though we've had many discussions about what warrants calling home from school, and what doesn’t. 

I have the capacity, opportunity, and determination, to figure out all this technology stuff.  I’ve mentioned before that one of my nicknames used to be Laura Ingalls, of Little House on The Prairie fame.  It’s safe to say, that name no longer fits. I’m glad I got over my judgement, and fear that technology was ' The Devil’s work’.  (O.K., that was for dramatic effect, but you know what I mean).

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more, It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie