It’s been a weird few weeks. Maybe even months.
I have gone to work and I have been participating in family things, but there has honestly just been a lot of what can best be described as straight up nothing. A lot of sitting and staring into the middle distance or beyond when I should have been doing anything else.
I’ve done much less reading than is normal for me, and certainly not entire novels. Even my beloved short story collections have been neglected. I’ve been focusing—when I can—on books I can pick up at random and read a section and then put them down again. Katherine May’s Wintering is one such book, a balm in tough times. And speaking of tough times, Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times is another book that seems to fit the bill right now. Little bits of wisdom, small ideas to help. Both books have been precisely what I’ve needed.
I’ve also done a lot less writing, too, and in fact I had to scrounge around in my Google docs for something to submit to my writing group last month because I had nothing new to offer, nothing that I’d been working on. So the beginning of a mostly forgotten story from 2018 it was. And it’s fine, and I know it’s fine, and I also know that I need to be able to give myself the same level of grace and patience I would give to a friend who was struggling with these kinds of issues. Take your time. Do what feels right for you, what feels best for you. Be kind to yourself, be gentle with yourself.
And I’m trying.
There has been a hell of a lot of stuff happening lately, and while I try to balance my news and social media intake to remain informed without becoming obsessed, the balance has tipped more than once, and I’ve found myself in a pure news cycle spiral that continued unabated until I just couldn’t handle it. And then I shut down.
But I am seeing some signs of returning to myself. On Saturday and Sunday I did a deep clean of our dining room that involved washing walls and baseboards, pulling out tchotchkes from our china cabinet, boxing up the ones I didn’t want to look at anymore and organizing the rest so that the space is actually usable. It involved vacuuming cobwebs off the ceiling and washing the the inside of the bay windows and the thirty small panes of glass in the french doors that separate the front room from the dining room. It involved organizing my plants and alphabetizing our vinyl and so, so much more.
It was exhausting but it was just what I needed. I know that when I allow the clutter to spread and the floors and windows to remain unwashed that I am not in a great place. And it’s not something I can force, this deep dive into cleaning and organizing, but when it arrives organically and enthusiastically, I know I’m back, baby.
And maybe it’s because the light is returning to this part of the world and maybe it’s because Ottawa is back to being boring again (sorry!) Maybe it’s because we have tickets to see our older son’s band Saturday night and we haven’t seen him play in over two years, and maybe it’s because we have plans to host a dinner party with friends in a few weeks. It is probably all of this and more, and I am slowly coming back. I’m shaking off the spiral and embracing what’s ahead with less apprehension than I’ve felt in a long time. More of this, please.
It’s been a very long road, friends. I hope you’re taking care and treating yourself with the gentleness you deserve.