Don’t Feed Yourself With Food, Love Mom

“You need to eat something,” said every mother and grandmother everywhere, every day.

What are you eating?  I had this feeling this morning that I absolutely hated everything I had in my

Photo by Nathália Rosa on Unsplash

refrigerator.  I didn’t really.  I supplied myself well, nutritionally, for this self-quarantine, social distancing, whatever you want to call our current time.  I have proteins, some fresh veg, juices (beet, blueberry and a bottle of elderberry – not big sellers, easy to find during a panic), milk (fresh, powdered, condensed and almond), eggs and other useful items. I remember the day I realized I had sought out no sweets during early shopping excurions.  What was wrong with me?  I wasn’t planning for fun; I was planning for serious times.  I added one bag of M&Ms – peanut, in case of emergency.

My mother said, “Don’t feed yourself with food.”  Her words tend to echo. She’s right.  We need balance and we need to feed other parts of our being.

A friend told me he was already binging on Reese Cups as he watched endless hours of people exclaiming and arguing and informing about the coronavirus on the neverending news cycles. My mother would probably be shaking her head at him.  I told him he needed to cut back on the news.  He said, he couldn’t. He needed to be informed.  Then he progressed to tell me that the experts are not in agreement and will not even attempt to see the other person’s point of view.  He had nothing to ease his mind from this is “being informed” he had sought.  I am glad then, that I am not.

My friend is binging on junk food and fear. I choose not to.  I am not saying I have no junk food in the house.  I know for a fact there is a can of Pringles in a safe place.  The problem is I can never remember where that it.

I started off this week with more balance.  Today for example, I had a nice salad for breakfast.  I had some popcorn for a snack.  Later, I may offset a found cookie with pumpkin seeds and an orange.  That’s all just food.  What else is there?

I took a short walk on the treadmill after breakfast.  Then there was some rather pathetic stretching and a video game on my phone.  Hey, it all counts!

I #amwriting. I will be reading.  I will watch a light movie.  “Letters to Juliet” is on right now – wow, that’s a beautiful movie if you haven’t seen it.  I have a dozen puzzles to assemble – my facebook friends voted to start with the donut one (still thinking about food).  I am surrounded by books – actual physical, wonderful smelling books and electronic ones.  After the rain stops, I will go for a short walk.

Oh right, I forgot about that closet that needs organizing….I am sure I can fit that in somewhere.  And I am certain that, spirit willing, there is a toilet bowl that could use a good scrubbing.

Later, I will be taking out some greeting cards and addressing them with short notes to mail out to people tomorrow.  Sure, some of them may be getting an out of season Halloween card, which may reinforce in their minds that I am a little nuts, but it says “I am thinking about you. I care about you.”  I may be a little nuts, but I am not seeking out alcohol or food to comfort my fear.  I am spreading some love and hope.  Keep that in mind when you get your mail.

I am not binging on fear as so many seem to be.  The last time I was at the grocery store, there was a lot of FEAR thick in the air.  It’s also crept into people’s homes through their internet, social media feeds and television.  Be honest, fear is exhausting.   And this is not the good exhausting from a walk outside in the fresh air.  It’s sucking people of their energy, their stamina and most of all their HOPE.  There is always HOPE.  There does not need to always be fear.  Fear is the real virus.  Fear is the real thing making us sick.

There is still a lot we can do.  We will be getting through this in shorter time than I think people realize.  That is my belief and my HOPE.  It will certainly seem long if you spent the entire time in fear.  Eat, but feed yourself with other things to nourish your mind and your spirit.  Find humor, find thoughtfulness, find faith, find love, talk to your family and if you are alone, email people, call them, listen to music, dance!! Sing!!  Go outside and breathe some fresh air.  You have to remain strong in so many ways at the present time and after we move forward into a new normal.

Don’t start really worrying until you see me heading for the In-Case-Of-Emergency Pepsi in the garage with a can of Pringle and a bag of M&Ms in my hands.

“Don’t feed yourself with Food,”  love Mom.

 

 

#fearistherealvirus #gooutside #dontfeedyourselfwithfood  #havehope

Ripples

I think everyone has thrown a rock into a quiet pond or lake at some point in their life and seen the ripples that are formed from the violent disruption caused by the rock.  At the time no one sees this as violent.  It’s just a pebble thrown into a pond and it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Hold that thought.

We are part of a lot of ponds or communities. We have our family community, our work community, our social network communities.  Every single thing we say or email or post sends out the very same ripples to the people that are part of our communities touching them in ways we probably do not realize.

I think I am a strong person.  I know I am a stubborn person.  I know I am strong willed.  I know I am great to have around in an emergency.  But I am porous.  I am like a sponge.  Everything that washes across my surface moves through me, quite a bit getting stuck inside.  How many sponges do you suppose are in your community ponds?  I bet there are more than you realize and your words have an effect.

I’ve been feeling fairly positive, hopeful and determined in the face of our current situation.  I’ve decided that I will not batten down the hatches and hide in my home.  I will continue going out.  I will social distance (okay, to be honest, I’ve done it all my life, so basically, I will continue to social distance).  I will use antibacterial outside the house. I will wash hands inside the house and launder clothing worn in public places especially jackets and pants as soon as possible.  (I do not have information on clothing and the virus, I just think it is something I want to do.)

I’ve made an effort to send out links to helpful sites to my friends on social media.  I’ve made a point to find activities that are free, positive and distracting so that they can take their minds off of the news (much of which is worst case scenario) and their subsequent worries.  Did you know you can virtually check out nearly 300,000 books from the New York Public Library?  Did you know you can virtually tour the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam?  I got lost on the second floor. If you see me, just give my cursor a nudge – ha ha.  There is a lot available, and being made available daily – watching live streams at zoos, or in parks in other countries.  Do a pre-visit virtually to a country you would like to visit next year!

What I am really trying to do is send out positive ripples.  I don’t want anyone I know to be afraid.  Okay, what I really want is for no one to feel as afraid as I do sometimes here alone, by myself, reading the headlines and things other people share.  Their ripples are not positive, hopeful or caring.  And as they wash over me, some of that negativity is getting stuck.  Oh dear.  Why can’t see what they are putting there?  They think they are being helpful by informing, but informative sources  do not have to be full of doom and gloom.  Look a little further before posting.

I want to slap some of them and I apologize for that reaction.  They are afraid and they are sharing it.  People need to get their feelings out, but in a time as sensitive as this where we are all so affected, I think there should be some responsibility taken to be careful onto whom you are dumping all your emotion.  In the grocery store this morning I was surrounded by FEAR!  SERIOUS FEAR!  People were as afraid of each other as they were determined not to miss out on a newly restocked organic chicken counter.

Me being the sponge that I am froze and took it all in.  Then overwhelmed, I hurried away.  It’s no fun being the sponge.  Anyone you know who is empathic or empathetic (I see these as being two different things), deserves your care at this time.  Once I got to my car and sat. I had a talk with myself.  Do that, it can be fun, you never know where the conversation will go.  I realized very quickly that the fear inside me all week, wasn’t even mine.  I am positive about our situation. I am hopeful. I am determined to get through this caring for myself and those around me in the best way I can.  I want this to be a blip in our lives.

I know it may not be, but I am going to approach my days, every day, as if it will.  I am a sponge but I will recognize that sometimes what I feel is not my own emotion. It is the powerful vibrations of other people’s emotions.  I felt as if a weight had been lifted there in the car when I came to that realization.

My grandfather lost his wife and two of his three small children to a flu epidemic in 1919. His third child was given to his sister to raise as hers, since at the time, it was not possible for a single man to raise a child alone.  He lost his entire family.  He started again, or I would not be here.  Tomorrow is up for grabs and we can approach it any way we want, I just want my ripples to go out and make people feel comforted and positive.  I want the same type of ripples back, to be honest.  That is going to require that I remember not to take on other people’s fears and be compassionate towards those that can’t seem to get a grip at the moment.  I’ve been in that moment and it is not a place in which anyone should choose to stay.  Unfortunately, some people seem trapped there.

If you have friends or family who are trapped in the ripples of doom and gloom, try to help them find release from that place of fear and panic.  They do not have to live in that state.  You surely know something that in normal times would cheer them up, distract them.  Take them for a walk outside.  Do a jigsaw puzzle.  Make them a cup of tea and hold their hand.  If it is you, and you are stuck – you can get out of it.  You can!

We’re in this together even if we are far apart.

 

 

 

 

On a side note, a friend who teaches meditation, offers a humming chant on his website that you can listen to and share with friends.  You can add your own positive intention and do it at the same times 8 pm EST as he does or at a time convenient to you.  #Raisethevibration while #flatteningthecurve.    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO IT.

Writing

I’ve not been writing much since my fall – mostly because initially I could not, then there was that bone in my hand out of place.  Well no excuses anymore.  I wanted to update that an essay I wrote for an anthology is now available in print!  It is my first essay published in an actual book.  Pretty cool stuff!!  I have not yet seen a physical copy of it, but I am headed out to the post office today to anxiously stand near my box and wait for my copies to come in!

It is a wonderful (I say that in full confidence) volume called “Dine, An Anthology”  “This anthology captures 20 stories about diners and family restaurants. On the menu, you’ll find rich and flavorful essays that drip with detail like au jus on a daily blue plate special. Our contributors transport us to diners in center cities, small towns, and along desolate highways. At these restaurants, they come of age, celebrate life milestones, recall days past, find themselves, and fall in love.”

You can purchase it directly from the publisher at this link or by clicking on the logo or image of the book:

Dine Anthology.

It’s always super nice to support small publishers by the way.  I hope you will buy it and read it and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Once you read it you will understand this.  My friend and I did have a nice sized win (winner, winner, chicken dinner!) a couple weeks ago.  Last Saturday I had the most wonderful “All Ham’s On Deck” for breakfast – which, while it is no longer on the menu, I seem to know how to get.

 

Selfies

(This was for a contest, ekphrastic poem based on an art installation in the woods.  Though inspired by the art, it just didn’t seem like it fit with their themes or the artists interpretation of their piece, so sharing it here instead of submitting it. I am not including a photo of the installation, still contemplating it.)

 

I photograph a leaf

A flower

A mushroom.

Those are my “selfies”.

What I see in the woods

Sees me.

What I photograph

Shows me to you.

I photograph rays of light

Pollen on a pond

A path that winds

Off into the

Unknown.

I see me

In their patterns

And rhythms

What I photograph

Shows me to you.

Those are my selfies.

 

Can you see me?

 

 

Why Memoirs Have Disclaimers

Pre-ramble (that’s my ramble before the piece):  It’s super hot outside and so this piece takes you back to February of 1979, a very cold February.  It’s about memories and yes, that makes me pretty damn old this year.

I have said it before and I will say it again, my life growing up seemed uneventful to the point of most days being quite blurred one into the next.  I envy people I know who can write about their childhoods with vivid sensory descriptions because I don’t seem to have that.  I seem to be missing the scents and textures and sounds.  I have an odd catalog of snapshots in my brain that represent various personal family events and some local events.   Snapshots, not video snippets or Insta-story like memories, simple two-dimensional often black and white snapshot memories.

There were very few deaths that I recall growing up of members of our immediate or extended family or even family friends.  When they did occur, as children, we were not included in the funeral home showings or the funerals themselves.  Death was something that occurred on television and in the papers to other people often in sensationalized manners.  In a small town there is very little that is newsworthy going on outside of politics and sports.

I do, though, have an odd memory of a small child going missing just two and a half miles from where we lived.  I wonder if this was the beginning of my obsession with missing persons.  How do people just disappear?  How is that possible? I recently decided to look up this missing child, who I do recall was found deceased days later victim of an accidental death in a large container used for storage of newspapers bound for the recycling plant.  The container was located at a church less than a hundred yards from the child’s home. That was the extent of my memory, vivid primarily in its tragic theme, and only a bit of this has turned out to be correct now that I have done some research.

I find it interesting how much I remembered and how much was incorrect and colored with assumption over time.  Most of our memories are distorted from retelling these memories, even in our heads, over and over.  Facts get distorted, if we even had all of them to begin with.  That’s why memoirs are not called biographies.  They are filled with perception and enhancement.

I assumed this event took place when I was fairly young, 10 or 11.  My initial search parameters were based on the age that I assumed I was, plus or minus a few years, from 1965 to 1975.  That covers me from age 4 to 14.  I found nothing.  How was that possible? This was a missing child.  That was hugely newsworthy and nothing came up?  I decided to extend the upper parameter to 1980.  Not until I expanded my date range search in newspapers.com did I locate the first of a series of articles on the disappearance.  It took place my senior year in high school: 1979.  Truth be told, I was an immature seventeen as a senior, so maybe my thinking I was younger makes sense?  (To this day I like to present myself as 10 years younger than I am.)

That wasn’t the only glaring error in my memory.

The child wasn’t six or seven as I had implanted I my brain but middle school age: 14.  I was older than I had recollected and so it does not surprise that so were the missing.  Bigger error though was that it was not just one boy but two eighth graders who had gone missing.  Both students at the middle school I had gone to just four years before.  That makes the mystery of a disappearance all the more baffling to me as it did to their parents and the authorities at the time.

One person disappears, there are a host of different scenarios that the brain can play out for you in wonderment.  But two people, two boys, how can two boys disappear together?  Were they taken?  Did they run away?  If one had gotten hurt, the other could surely have helped him or gone for help.  If someone was trying to kidnap two boys, surely one would get free and run for help.

They went missing on a cold Sunday afternoon in February and the disappearance was front page news on Monday morning.  One of their parents had tried to take them to a movie at the nearby Rolling Acres Mall but it was sold out.  They returned home and went out together to look for beer cans for their collections.  They never returned.

They would be found right away, alive – that was the hope.  But snow overnight had covered their tracks in the snow.  They were front page on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Tips had not panned out.  Neither helicopter nor ground searches had come up with anything.  A tracking dog had followed their scent from the home of one of the boys a short distance away to a car wash where they had found beer cans for their collection previously.  My younger brother had collected beer cans around that time, too.

The dog stopped near a large container (the size of a semitruck or rail car) where people would stop and drop off bags and bundles of newspapers.  All homes got at least one if not two major daily papers and the smaller weekly papers in those days.  Papers would accumulate and burning them had become frowned upon. We saved ours in grocery store paper bags and would drop them off in this same container that was parked near the church.  It was a church fundraiser.  Not our church, but it didn’t matter. People were not always mindful about stacking their drop-offs neatly.  Some would but then others would just pitch their papers in from the open end, creating a slippery, sliding mass.  The doors of the container were always open.  I remember looking inside once.  It seemed awfully dark, too dark for me to want to brave entering.

The search dog stopped near the windowless container but did not go inside.  People later said they looked inside but saw nothing. Everyone seemed confident there was nothing inside but newspapers.

Anytime a child goes missing, minds wander off to abduction, molestation and worse.  Again, started the inevitable cautions to children of all ages to be more aware, more careful.  Parents who could hug their children no doubt felt somewhat relieved and maybe a little guilty because of it.  It was so cold at night in February in Ohio.  So cold.

On Wednesday the newspaper container was picked up, placed on a trailer and driven away into the city where the containers were emptied out.  Again, my recollection failed me.  I assumed it was still there at the spot near their home when the boys were found.  That is what I had in my snapshot of the memory. It seems interesting to me that it was even allowed to have been removed from a location so close to the target sight of the disappearance.

The bodies of the two boys were discovered among the contents of the container at the recycle plant after having spent the three and a half days so close to home.  The parents continued to feel foul play was involved.  It must have been, right?  But those that saw the bodies said that there was no appearance of foul play.  And the coroner’s report a month later would concur.  There were only signs that the boys had tried to free themselves from the crush of newspapers that may have smothered them or at the very least held them trapped until the cold temperatures took them.

Now that I found the clippings, have seen their faces and those of their parents in the grainy newspaper photos and have read the full details that are available, I have more of the story.  It makes clearer the memory in a way and yet now it is as though I have two different recollections running parallel to one and other in my mind.  I have my own recollection and the newspaper retelling. I am not sure I did myself any good by clearing up the details to be honest.

It does make me wonder about and perhaps take greater care when writing about my own personal memories of home and family.  They are my perceptions, my view from where I sat or stood.  My angle may not have been the best angle.  I know from asking my brothers about specific memories that we recall them very differently.  And most of them can’t be googled.  I process my memories through my writing in the hopes that I can at the very least achieve a sense of understanding of them and growth from them.

Post-ramble (that’s a bit after the piece):  Take memoirs with a grain.  Don’t label them lies or sensationalized, though some are.  Just as we do with anything we read, learn from it what you can and leave the rest.