Solidarity Sunday #12: Ritual

Rowing was a religion for me, composed of a set of rituals and movements repeated until they became a meditation.

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

I am just now, very belatedly, listening to the Artemis Fowl series on audiobook. I know, I know, they’re middle-grade and perhaps not meant for a woman of my age, being somehow already in my mid-thirties.

However, I am a firm believer in the idea that books are not meant for any particular time of life. You may read a more adult piece of literary fiction at 15 (as I did when I read Jane Eyre) and find it changes your perspective on life. On the flip side, you may read works meant for young teens in your thirties and find yourself grinning ear to ear at their brilliance (as I am now). Regardless of your age, good writing is good writing, is it not?

I don’t care how old you are – do you not want to dive into these shelves and never leave? Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

OK, Erin, what is your point.

Well, in the first Artemis Fowl book, without giving away any spoilers, we find out that The People (magical beings such as fairies) are required to regularly perform The Ritual to ensure that their magic powers remain topped up and ready to use. If a fairy goes too long without performing The Ritual, their powers may fail them when they need them most.

While we mere humans (or, mud people as we are called in these novels) may not have a supply of magical powers, we too rely on various rituals in order to feel and perform our best.

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Solidarity Sunday #11: Rest

People who know what they’re doing have a purposeful air to them, even if they don’t seem to be particularly active

Francis Pryor, Home

Hello my dear readers. I hope this missive finds you well, truly well, or as well as can be given the uncertainties of our times.

Yes, I know, all time can be said to be uncertain since all we can do is experience the present as it is without the means (or perhaps even the desire) to change the past or to predict the future. But this last year-and-a-half has seemed even more hazy, has it not? Hazy in the literal sense with the continuation of the horrific forest fires being fought and, unfortunately, succumbed to when all else fails in communities all over the world (to say nothing of the heat domes, floods and, conversely, droughts). But for the majority of us this time has been hazy in the figurative sense as we struggle with a collective brain fog making what were once every day activities seem exhausting and perhaps pointless.

Right now, in Ontario at least, we are in a bit of a lull as far as the pandemic is concerned. This is not to suggest that our frontline workers are not pushing themselves to the limit every day to keep us all safe, fed, clothed and healthy – because they are – but rather that our case numbers have been thankfully reduced to something slightly more manageable overall. For now.

But is another wave coming? Some say yes, some say no. And I will not claim the all-too-common title of internet-accredited epidemiologist whose views are confirmed and bolstered by the echo chambers of the world wide web. I will simply say that I am hoping another wave can be avoided, that I am cautiously optimistic about this, but that I am preparing myself internally for another lockdown if such measures are necessary for us to get through this damn thing once and for all.

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Solidarity Sunday #10: Uncertainty

She wanted so to be tranquil, to be someone who took walks in the late-afternoon sun, listening to the birds and crickets and feeling the whole world breathe. Instead, she lived in her head like a madwoman locked in a tower, hearing the wind howling through her hair and waiting for someone to come and rescue her from feeling things so deeply that her bones burned. She had plenty of evidence that she had a good life. She just couldn’t feel the life she saw she had. It was as though she had a cancer of the perspective.

Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Now, let me just preface this with saying that the use of the quote above is not in any way shape or form a cry for help. I’m very aware that I am lucky enough to have an incredibly wonderful life that is so full of joy, adventure and happiness.

And yet.

This quote spoke to me when I flipped through my book of beautiful words today because of the peculiar experience we are all living in this moment (or at least, in most parts of Canada, I recognize each nation’s experience is different).

More and more people are getting vaccinated and as a result, case numbers have been falling and life is starting to open up again. And when I say open up, I don’t mean just economically. People throughout the country are feeling free to once again hug their loved ones, to show off babies born during the depths of the pandemic, to heave a sigh of relief over a long-overdue drink with a dear friend.

And, believe me, I’ve been feeling much of this relief as well. My family has remained fairly careful but we are indeed starting to see more people: if still largely socially-distanced (something my 18-month-old daughter struggles to understand). I even had Aria in Mom-and-Tot swimming lessons this past week which was glorious – and her development has advanced in leaps and bounds simply as a result of those 5 days around other kids. It’s magnificent to watch.

But.

And yes, there is still a but. This isn’t over. While Louis and I are both vaccinated, Aria is not (and nor are any of our friends’ kids). So opening up completely is still out of the question. And then you have the Delta variant emerging more and more causing case numbers to crawl up again and bringing with it the looming threat of further lockdowns.

So, you have this confluence of society opening up, vaccines being doled out to those willing to take them, and new more contagious and dangerous variants leading to a perfect storm of…uncertainty.

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Solidarity Sunday #9: Technology

Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence.”

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

I’m posting this one day late for a very good reason, which is that I got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday! As a result, yesterday was a bit of a write-off with my immune system trying to figure out how to handle this new intruder but I’m feeling much better today. And so, Solidarity Monday it is!

Thus, without further ado, lets talk about technology in the pandemic, shall we?

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Solidarity Sunday #8: Motivation

People don’t do this kind of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it; they do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it. Unless you come from landed gentry, that’s what everyone does.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

What kind of pandemic experience have you been having? Assuming all your loved ones are healthy (hopefully) and you don’t have 4 kids to homeschool while you and your partner try to work remotely, I bet your response to that question is somewhere in between the following two extremes:

Some people will cheerfully announce that they have read 120 books and even written one, while also taking up yoga, starting a homesteading project and teaching their neighbour’s dog sign language through the cracks in the fence.

Others glumly report that they have gained 30 pounds, watched every show on Netflix, Disney+, Prime and Crave, forgotten what the outside world looks like, and have lost all ability to socialize with other humans.

I, thankfully, fit into neither of these categories (though the first one would be nice… I have yet to figure out how to properly communicate with the neighbours’ dogs) and I hope you at the very least do not fit into the second one.

However, if you were to ask me the question at the top of this blog my answer would be: It’s really not been all that bad, at all. I’ve read a few books, watched some shows, neither gained nor lost much weight, started a small garden, and learned to understand my toddler (mostly). I’ve even spent a decent amount of time outside.

And yet, I am still lacking one thing I would really like to get back, apart from in-person socialization that is.

And this one thing is Motivation.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com
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Solidarity Sunday #7: Spring

…shielding my eyes from the brightness of the window, from the day I am not yet awake enough to meet.

Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still

Well, that’s just life during a global pandemic, is it not? It’s hard enough at the best of times to great each day with unbridled enthusiasm (especially if you happen to be resolutely NOT a morning person, like me…) let alone when we are living through a once-in-a-lifetime worldwide crisis that makes each day seem to bleed into the next.

How are we supposed to meet the day when we aren’t even quite sure what to call it? Monday? Friday? Wedursday? What month are we even in?

I would apologize again for missing a post just after finally committing to a schedule I thought would work for me but, well, what’s the point? Who even knows what year it is anymore.

Don’t worry, though, this post isn’t going to just be all doom and gloom. I promise.

See? No doom and gloom here (Photo: Erin of the Hills)
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Solidarity Sunday #6: Missed Milestones

Yet no certainty is possible. We must accustom our eyes to the twilight

Peter Ackroyd, Foundation

When I sat down to write this today I confess that I was completely unsure of what day of the week it was. I had all the best intentions to start scheduling posts ahead of time (I even have an ambitious schedule of post already brainstormed and posted on a lined sheet of paper on the wall beside my desk) and yet, so far, this level of organization has eluded me.

Now, one might ask, does not the fact that Monday begins the workweek give it some kind of dreaded importance making it an impossible day to forget? Perhaps for most this is the case but since I have decided to forgo the 9-5 existence in order to stay home with my little Aria, the days of the week have accordingly lost their typical structure leading to days that feel full and fast on their own as opposed to simply things to get through until the weekend rolls around once more.

But what about my husband? Doesn’t his work schedule make it easier to remember what day of the week it is? Another good question, hypothetical reader of mine. Yes, Louis does work full-time at a more typical 9-5 type job which necessitates remembering the existence of Mondays. However, since we have been slogging through this never-ending pandemic, he has had the great fortune of working from home which means Sundays are not capped off by a desperate attempt to be under the covers at a decent hour in preparation for an obscenely early wake-up call. His hours being a bit more flexible, and minus the typical commute, Mondays have lost their ubiquitous “beginning of the work week blues” and have now become only a bit more structured than the two glorious weekend days.

What is the point of all this, you ask?

Another great question!

Only that I meant to write this post yesterday and quite literally forgot it was Saturday. That’s why.

So, after that loquacious beginning, lets get to today’s topic. Shall we? It’s related to all this, I swear.

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Solidarity Sunday #5: Coping – Part Two

As though, knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

How is everyone doing? We are now in the 12th month of Covid-19-induced social distancing and the pandemic is showing no real signs of abating any time soon…so I imagine you have all been better?

One the bright side, if you’re reading this, you are alive. And that, in itself, is something positive.

Now that the days are shorter and we are well into a time of year that is difficult for many even without an international health crisis, I thought this might be a good time to introduce the second half of my post about coping mechanisms which I have found to be particularly useful to get me through these trying times largely in one piece.

And so, without further ado, here they are. I hope, if you are struggling, that one or several of these resonates with you and helps you to find some joy in an otherwise frustrating and disheartening time.

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Solidarity Sunday #4: Coping – Part One

“…patience and perseverance generally enable mankind to overcome things which, at first sight, appear impossible. Indeed, what is there above man’s exertions?”

– George Borrow, Lavengro

How is everybody doing? Hanging in there OK? Can anyone believe we have been in the grips of this pandemic, at least here in Canada, for half a year already?

As I’ve written in previous posts, the last six months have been hard. I recognize fully that my Covid experience has been incredibly privileged compared to the vast majority of humanity. To start, I have a roof over my head. I’m warm, dry, fed, healthy, safe and am able to bubble up with at least part of our family. Both my husband and I have been able to keep bringing in paychecks and we have only one dependent who is an infant and therefore does not need to be homeschooled (I’m not supposed to be schooling an 8-month-old…right?). So, yes, all things considered, my situation could be much MUCH worse.

However, none of these privileges can fully combat the fact that we are living through a global pandemic, and one that looks on track to last a while longer (PSA: Wear your masks, people!). Not only is the isolation and fear crushing some days but learning to parent while not having access to our much-beloved support networks has been much harder than I could have possibly imagined. Yes, now we have at least one set of grandparents and a few uncles and aunts in our bubble able to help but that leaves two sets of grandparents, many uncles and aunts, and the rest of our extended family largely out of our daughter’s life for the time being. And this alone is, well, heartbreaking. As I wrote in a previous post, this is not in any way, shape, or form what I envisioned for the first year of Aria’s life. Not by a long shot.

Don’t worry, though, dear reader! This post is not meant to be all doom and gloom. I am actually going to offer below some coping mechanisms that seemed to have worked to largely bring me back to a place of calm and positivity in the midst of so much chaos and negativity. I hope they will help someone, anyone, to find even just a little bit of light in the darkness but, remember, it is still OK to not be OK. Take a deep breath. We will get through this, together.

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Solidarity Sunday #3 – Mental Health

Moments like this act as magical interludes placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time. Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn – and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb.” Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

How is everyone doing?

We are now, let’s see, 6 months into COVID-19 self-isolation measures. Half. A. Year. How is this possible? How can it possibly feel like no time at all has passed while also simultaneously seeming like we’ve been in isolation forever? Is this how hermits feel all the time? The mind boggles.

Like many others, I have struggled during this time to keep on top of the many productive tasks I set out to consistently chip away at despite having what appears at first blush to be an unlimited stretch of time laid out before me each morning.

Wait, scratch that, who am I kidding? I have a 6.5-month-old daughter…I wake up before the sun and by the time I catch a moment to take a deep breath that same sun is somehow on its way down again. I wonder if the days feel as unreasonably short to a baby as well.

Motherhood aside, as this is not what I wished to post about tonight, I can summarize the last few months in one single word: Rough.

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