Float This By You

As I resume some of my pre-pandemic life (riding the horse more, catching up on doc appointments), I have a sense of dwelling a short distance from my body.

I’ve already noted in this space that pandemic living resulted in some odd behavior changes for me. I stopped whistling, and I am a pretty dedicated whistler. I stopped stretching, even casually, as in touching my toes while waiting for my tea water to boil. I stopped laughing at the ridiculous antics of eight-week-old kittens.  Stopped wearing my most colorful socks and went instead for cozy pastels all year round.

My sense is that I withdrew into a state of low self-expression, and became emotionally non-permeable. Worry, anxiety, and anger were not going to get in, and courage was not going to leak out. I kept the hatches battened down, and now… the hatches are kinda stuck. Small challenges–might run out of milk!–are occasion for much strategizing even though I still have an entire gallon of milk in the fridge.

I need time to get my groove back, but I also need to do the things I know to do to be me. One of those things is to invite novelty into my life. My imagination cannot think new thoughts if I never give myself new experiences or perspectives to chew on. This week, I rode a different horse, for example. Santa boogered up not one but two of his feet, so I did a lesson on Waldo, a handsome bay Hanoverian gelding whom I have known for fifteen years…. but never taken a lesson on.

My take away from that lesson was, as long as I focused on listening to the horse instead of anticipating a spook, bolt, buck, earthquake, market crash, new pandemic, or meteor collisions, we had a fine time.

And then I tried something called floating, which is essentially sensory deprivation in a warm bath of concentrated Epsom salts. Somebody at the barn recommended it for stress relief and reduction of inflammation. I like a good massage, but cannot find a massage therapist I click with, and besides… a massage in a mask has little appeal. So a-floating I did go.

I did not reunite with my missing soul, or think up the best story premise ever. I tried a little something new. My myriad small aches and pains might be somewhat mollified for the present, and I did enjoy it. I also had to find my way to a new location (I do not use Sat Nav), had to deal with people I’d never met, had to manage when I left my towel in the car (What, me? Distracted?), and generally had to be present to my own life. It’s a step in the right direction.

Are you having to treat yourself any differently lately? Planning any new adventures? I’ll put three names on my ARC list for Miss Delectable, which launches in the web store in May, and on the retail outlets in June.

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34 comments on “Float This By You

  1. April was a busy stressful month. Entertaining guests on Easter, Covid appointments and shots, scheduling Covid shots for friends, Birthday, tax time at work and wedding anniversary.

    How could I fit Weight Watchers in and work on Saturdays and walk? So, I skipped WWfor 3 weeks. Have been honest about tracking and walking….needed the break. Am reserved for nest week.

    Instead of taking everything on, I left a couple of things go. I did go to dog class and Laci is finally grasping sit stay. Huge accomplishment. Got my hair cut and colored. I said No to overtime. I spent time with Rose and we are up most mornings to see the sunrise.

    I entered Laci in 2 dogs shows in June— that’s my new adventure. Haven’t shown in almost 2 years due to Covid and will figure out the Covid dog show rules.Temperature checks, waivers and wrist bands…. She likes outside shows and hopefully we will have fun.
    It’s a start in the right direction.

    • I am so glad to hear you talking dog show again, Susan. You and the pups are good for each other, and I think you enjoy hanging out with your dog show buddies too. Best of luck, and I hope sit stay is the start of brilliant progress.

  2. Our family has been taking online courses (Spanish, Latin, the history of the English language, music history courses, etc.)and that has been good for keeping our minds active. But I am also somewhat exhausted by constantly feeling I HAVE to be doing something. We’ve been doing the courses five nights a week (movies on the weekend) but decided we all needed a bit of a break and are now doing them every other night–and that’s been refreshing.

    I’ve mentioned before, this is the first time in DECADES I’ve been around the house so much so we decided to do some home improvements we’ve put off, had difficulty scheduling or wanted to do but never had time before. Since I was gonna be the “In House” general contractor, we figured now was the time. And mission accomplished–basement renovation complete, kitchen spruce-up complete and all bathroom have either a new coat of paint or new wallpaper. So Yippee for us.

    The last bit (the kitchen) was finished the day before Easter. We had a lovely Easter meal and…..then what? I was at a loss for a week or so–my whole adult life, I’ve either worked (part time or full time)or had very young children to take care of (and get to school or lessons and laundry and and and and) and both take much planning to get everything done. Anyway, I decided it’s okay to enjoy the gussied up house and relax for a little while before my *normal* comes back with a vengeance. And maybe relaxing and enjoying isn’t such a bad thing.

    • I think it’s wonderful that you tended to the house projects, and now have a nicer nest to spend time in. And yeah… classes five nights a week? I did that in law school, and it grew old QUICKLY.

  3. I have lived almost an entire year without leaving my home. I thought I was doing ok. I was working 8 hours a day from home having lots of virtual meetings and feeling connected. My husband was still going to work and he handled everything outside the home. He did all the shopping, ran all the errands, etc. We both got vaccinated in March and still I stayed home. Then I got the invitation to visit my brother and his family for Easter. I have only one sibling and have not seen him in almost a year. Anxiety set in and I gave the “we’ll think about it” answer.

    My brother and his family were fully vaccinated with the exception of my 18 year old niece. Still, I wasn’t sure I felt safe. My 80 year old mom called and said she wanted to go see her son and grandkids for Easter but she couldn’t make the 4 hour drive. Now I’m boxed in. I have to go because she needs a driver. Keeping in mind that they all got together for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I stayed away, I told myself it was time to leave the house.

    The whole four hour drive all I could think about was turning around and going back to my safe haven. I arrived in a private fit of anxiety. I walked into the house hesitantly. I saw my sister in law just as she came down the stairs to greet us and I started sobbing. Uncontrollable, shaking sobbing. We hugged and held each other and I continued to cry. I just kept squeaking out “I missed you so much”. I repeated that scene with all four kids.

    It was the greatest relief I think I’ve ever felt. I found my old self in all those tears. I’ve now been out to dinner several times with my husband and feel completely comfortable going into stores and I’m back to working in an office building. I cannot explain it but I had no idea that I wasn’t really ok until I was reunited with my family and overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing them again.

    It’s out there and I hope everyone finds their pre-pandemic self soon! Get vaccinated and take those first steps!

    • I’m hearing a LOT of stories like this one. We just keep swimming, just keep swimming… and it’s not until we reach the safety of the reef that we can admit how miserably tough the past year has been, and what a relief it is to feel a measure of safety. Hugs…

  4. One day last week I arose and pulled the curtains back and suddenly felt the urge to go on a bus trip out of the area.It was a sunny but slightly cold morning but had promise.So off I went.Mask on,sanitiser spray in pocket.I went upstairs on the double decker bus because I could see over the beautiful countryside for miles.I was heading for Canterbury,beautiful city with an ancient cathedral.Has we went through the small towns and villages I could see into their gardens and it felt so refreshing to see many working and pottering,preparing for the summer.Some were just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.I bought fruit,veg from the market stalls also went into several shop and purchased some garden tools.I sat on a long bench and drank a lemon tea and enjoyed a chicken sandwich.Cafes and restaurants are still closed.Another lady had the same idea and asked if she could sit on the other end of the bench.She to had a drink and something to eat too.We chatted and she explained she came from a town not far from mine.It was very pleasant and relaxing and I felt a lot lighter knowing that the covid is being eased and people’s freedoms coming back.I did not buy much but I enjoyed the day very much and felt uplifted.That trip Will sustain me for the rest of the week.Also ‘re reading how to catch a Duke.Loved it.Thank you.

    • Oh, that sounds like a marvelous day. The English countryside is so pretty, just to see it go by must have made your heart sigh. This is part of why I LOVE the trains in the UK. You can see the terrain, but you don’t have to drive. Hats off to you, Brenda, for up you did get, and out you did go.

  5. I’ve had my first haircut since last year. Almost 6 inches of hair lighter! I’m finding it’s a major morale boost to stop looking like my own grandmother.

    Still recovering from surgical procedures in December & January, so I’ll be restricted for some time yet. But I’m finding dressing nicely and applying makeup even if I go weeks without seeing anyone but my delivery angels is good for my mental processes. It’s nice to enjoy my things and try new looks. An artistic side I’d nearly forgotten when things were more rushed.

    I gave up cable years back, but I find my YouTube tastes are changing when I do watch screen. I simply hate to sit through longer length movies or series. If I can’t watch it in under 45 minutes, I don’t want to. Dunno why.

    I’m exploring the world thanks to the vloggers who live where I’d love to visit. But I want to skip from place to place, rather than binge multiple episodes. Guess I’m binged out!

    Now that I can see to read again, the big screen time that kept my brain occupied when I couldn’t has cut way back. When my new eye repairs are tired, I’m indulging in endless audiobooks while I get things done, but infuriated that my library limits me now to 7 a month, when I can get through that in a week!

    I’m definitely doing far more self maintenance. Plus my slower lifestyle provides far more time to prepare nutritious foods. I seem very conscious of the comfort of natural fabrics vs the slimy airlessness of easy care polyesters and have rid my closet of ill fitting shoes and items I wasn’t using. I’ve discovered all kinds of new looks in my closet now it’s arranged and sorted.

    Because I go weeks without talking to another human, I babble endlessly when I do, much to my hapless listeners’ discomfort. I’m startled by my inability to govern the flow, but assume it’ll bleed off like a pressure cooker when I finally achieve regular human contact again.

    • I think it’s Jude Devereaux–or one of those legendarily productive writers–who gets up every day, puts on the suit of lights as if going into corporate headquarters, and toddles down the hall to her study. The ritual of donning the finery, tending to appearances, is part of keeping the whole mental and emotional castle in good trim.
      I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I can’t write in courtroom attire. For me, coming home, getting into jammies, and leaving the dress code behind was the on-switch. Getting myself into a suit was the creative off switch, and I do not miss it.

  6. Mmm, I am having to extend myself grace more often these days. As my horizons start to open up a little, I find I am still so anxious! It will be a challenge to learn to let that covid anxiety go. I am working on it gently.

    • I’m anxious too. I always thought I was pretty good at being anxious, then menopause hit and I developed super powers in the anxiety department. Covid has returned my worry settings to new and dizzyingly irrational heights.
      Like you, I’m having to just not be so intense about it all, and hope for better days soon.

  7. Sadly, no, no new experiences or adventures. On the other hand, my day-to-day life is not bad. My husband and son are with me, the house is standing, the bills are paid, and thank goodness, the taxes are done. I am still going to retire but it will be next year, although I can retire at any time. I’ve been asked to stay awhile.

    I’d rather have monotony than deep grief, financial insolvency, or serious illness. I feel thankful.

    • It’s easy to find things to be thankful these days, which is a comfort and an irony. Books to read, ways to shop that are safe and easy. Warmer weather, improving numbers, vaccines… the list is long and sincere.

  8. I find I have to be kinder to myself with less negative self-talk. It was likely there before, but I just didn’t notice it as much. Maybe being restricted and not able to just do “normal” things led to personal insight for me! That stopping of the regular brain pathways has led my brain to have to create new ones.
    I halfway wish I had started a language course or something useful. But, at the same time, taking time to stop and smell the roses has been such a great thing.
    No new adventures _planned_… just a whole bunch of, “oh! when the pandemic is done and things are open again, I’ll…. (doing whatever is in a picture or article I’m looking at).

    • We won’t just dream, we will DO.
      I’m looking forward to that too, even if it means every six months I roll up my sleeve. That is a small bother compared to living life on a toadstool.

  9. I am a hot mess. I had to have surgery in December and then was on restricted movement. Everything went fine, but when it was time to return to work I failed to step up to speed. You see I am scheduled to retire at the end of the school year and I have to have all of my ducks in a row, ready to let go. How do you spell scared?!

    I am hoping the bloom will begin when I get there. I hope so.

    • My sense of retirement is that it’s a big decision, but once you make it, it grows on you quickly. I have never met anybody who said, “I just wish I’d kept working for another two more years…” But I have met people who say they don’t know why they put retirement off so long.
      I hope for it’s the just-right time, and that you–like many of us–are busier than ever in retirement, and happier than ever.

      • I retired October 2021. But I kept working at the same school until April 2022 because of the teacher shortage and because I knew the kids and to keep the job open for a young teacher who needed to finish her student teaching. BUT I wish I had retired the first day I could 4 years ago.

  10. My work and social life were at home BEFORE the pandemic, so I feel like my world became even more insulated and I am escaping into books even more than I had before. Spring is always a blessing after a long northern Illinois winter, so I have taken my laptop (and Kindle) outside for a change of scenery and atmosphere. Birdsong makes me happy and doesn’t break my concentration like music does. I have also been trying a lot of new recipes to broaden my family’s culinary horizons. My biggest change has been an hour of exercise each day. It’s building muscle, boosting my mood and suppressing pains from too much computer time. A side note: my mom has always been a whistler and her new doctor asked if she was a smoker due to her lip wrinkles. So maybe giving up whistling isn’t all bad… but if it makes you happy, I say do it anyway!

    • I don’t “like” my tread desk, but I am tremendously grateful for it. Whatever the weather, time of day, state of dress, or mood… it’s so easy to just toddle into the living room and hit start. If I had to go into the gym or go outside, meet a walk buddy, or otherwise “make it happen,” I would get in a lot fewer steps.

  11. We realize that we are very fortunate in this whole Covid situation. My husband and I are both (mostly) retired, and I have been able to do the portion of my job that didn’t disappear from home (and it’s the part I like most, graphic design). With Peapod and Instacart we have been able to keep food in the house. I guess the thing that’s changed the most is that I allow myself random “down time” which I previously chastised myself for. I used to feel if I wasn’t “doing” something, that I was merely wasting time. However, with the stress of the awful Covid news parading across my news feeds day after day, I decided to give myself permission to do… nothing. Of course, “nothing” is really just something I enjoy doing but feel guilty about, such as spending 2 hours in the afternoon reading for pleasure. Honestly, other than doing home repairs (there’s always something that needs fixing!) or cooking (hubby & I have been trying to lose the pandemic pounds since January so I spend less time baking breads, cookies and all the other goodies), I have found giving myself permission to be non-productive for a couple of hours a day has kept me sane. Even as we are both fully vaccinated and beginning to expand our horizons (we walked into a supermarket!!! Yay!) and several times now have invited another couple over for dinner (one of my favorite things to do is cook for people), I think I will continue to allow myself down time–after all, I just turned 70 years old this week!!! I think I deserve some me time!

    • Happy birthday, and I think you deserve a LOT of “me” time. I often just play an hour of solitaire in mid-afternoon, because my mind is tired, I’ve done my steps, and I just FEEL LIKE PLAYING SOLITAIRE.
      I think in former times we had many more “screen saver” tasks, like shelling peas, folding laundry, hoeing the tomatoes, herding sheep… we aren’t built to on the assembly line all day without a break, and I think that siesta mid-afternoon makes me much more productive overall.

  12. Honestly the only reason I have to treat myself any differently is not Covid related, it is chronic pain related and managing that. I wonder if Floating would help at all? I bet there’s a place close to me that does it since there are a couple Cryotherapy places in town. I find the idea of floating more relaxing that cryotherapy – I am not a fan of cold weather much less subjecting myself to subzero temps in the name of health care.

    I do have a couple trips planned now that I have been completely vaccinated for over 2 weeks. The most important one is to visit my father in Georgia. Wish me luck on not getting into political conversations/arguements with my sister and her husband. The rest of my family is afraid to disagree with her no matter how much they do. We are also going to head up to Idaho on the other side of the Tetons from Grand Teton National park with some friends.

    • Idaho scenery is amazing. I’m sure you’ll enjoy that one. I find with some of my family members, if I can just look for what we have in common… We all want to feel respected, for example. Can we agree on that? But changing the subject frequently is imperative with some of them. I learned that trick with my parents.
      I can’t imagine a quiet, private soak in warm Epsom salts would be bad for anybody. I’ll give it another try so I’m assessing the experience without the burden of first time anxiety, but it was undeniably pleasant.

  13. There have been a few things I’ve done over the last year in the name of staying sane of which I am not proud. Among other things, there is larkspur blooming in the kitchen, cucumbers in the basement, begonias hanging out in a friend’s greenhouse. There are around 15 flats of seedlings in various stages on the buffet. I am allergic to pollen and potting soil.

    My second vaccine is a ways out there. Canada has gone with a 16 week interval between vaccines. I was called up early for my first one, perhaps I will be for my second, as well. And the border is closed to non-essential travel.

    Mom is old enough to be considered essential, and that is my first order of business, although I have a list! I would like to spell my sisters with the supervision and spend some time. Her generation used the telephone for death and disasters. Our children are across that border, too, although good with technology. I think they video call to watch the dog… therapy for all of us.

    I am encouraged by your lives. Thank you.

    • Sixteen weeks between doses… I had not heard that. Just waiting a few weeks was hard for me, so badly did I want to feel safe, but oddly, now that I supposedly am “fully vaccinated,” the emotional sense of safety is not kicking in. Maybe a slower roll out would make for a better adjustment.

      In any case, there are far worse coping mechanisms than seedlings. I’m doing my annual Big Flower Garden, and I love seeing the yard resume it’s growing season plumage.

  14. I have been making very small moves to push my life out beyond my quarantine borders and have been shocked how hard it has been. The getting there and doing has actually been the easy part, but then I have a post-interaction freakout once I am home. Which makes the next one harder to do in a dreading sense, but makes it very clear that it is necessary to consciously force myself to reacclimatize to a more social life. The Dr. Vivek Murthy book, Together, talks a bit about how isolation changes your neurology (or maybe neuro-chemistry is a better way to say it, I don’t remember) and it is really hard to turn that around and force oneself to interact. I feel like I am living that and I haven’t even had an extreme experience (I live with a husband and 2 kids, and go to work). I’m surprised and not delighted but fairly motivated to push back. Here is where my contrary nature is an asset! I’m taking my daughter to college (first year, talk about a baptism by fire to get back in the social groove! Poor kid, I do think she will love it though) the end of August, and I’m hoping by then I can fly without too much stress. That’s the goal I’m working toward.

    • I will look for that book… I spend days and days alone in the normal course, and I like that. I don’t understand (I do, but I don’t) the people who can only write in coffee shops or with people watching TV in the next room. I get twitchy about fans and heaters, I’m so intolerant of noise.

      I haven’t seen much news coverage about the whole PTSD aspect of Covid after vax, and you’d think the media would be all over that. But nope… re-open, re-open, re-open!

  15. I AM treating myself differently! About 6 weeks ago, I finally had enough of riding my aging curmudgeon of a quarter horse. Johnnie, 25-or-so-year old former cowpony, has a whole stable of escalating tricks designed to discourage a rider, developed as a pasture pet in his retirement (We had him about 3 years–we gather he was retired from cow-ponying at around 13. He earned his way out of THAT home (and the nickname “Jailbreak Johnnie”) by slipping through the fencing and eating the landscaping one too many times.

    Through trial and error, advice from our expert, and judicious application of tack solutions, I figured out how to handle the stop and drop his head in the ditch, the mutton-wither saddle-slip, and the grab-the-bit action. Then, six weeks ago, he bucked. The resulting bruises and limp lasted roughly three weeks.

    I’m in my early 60’s, had no health insurance at the time, and I was simply fed up with the constant “we ARE going riding” argument–as well as the issue of riding with someone else, when that someone else is half a mile ahead because he’s on a TWH and I’m on a quarter horse.

    So Johnnie now belongs to our farrier–she and her daughter will have no trouble handling him! And I now ride Ribbon. Ribbon is a lovely sorrel TWH, who actually wants to please, with a natural walking gait that is like smoothly running water. My husband’s on Zeus, also THW, who seems to be stepped up a couple of gears from Ribbon–and we are actually riding TOGETHER these days!

    • Life is too short to ride sour horses. I ABSOLUTELY agree. I can love any horse, but there are many I won’t get on. And it’s not even a matter of insurance. I do not want to be head-injured at any price. I don’t want to be wheel-chair bound. I don’t want to hurt avoidably. If that makes me a wimp, then I’m the wimpiest wimp ever to wimp.
      And good on ya for choosing the smooth gaits. Riding should be a pleasure!

  16. I can’t believe I’m going to share this here. For years, maybe even decades I’ve told myself if I lost down to my weight goal I was going to have a new portrait done for my husband & kids who suffer from the delusion I’m beautiful. It’s a special photo that has been a goal for the majority of my life. A goal for me to feel beautiful and feel beautiful. Well I was finally well on my way to that goal when Covid hit. My husband & I went into what I refer to as Cakearona. We ate cake. Then a daughter & grandbaby moved in with us during a traumatic divorce for our daughter. We then entered into the world of baby then toddler cookies & snacks. Trust me I managed to put every pound lost right back on.

    However I’m going to have the portrait done. No matter my weight, no matter my numerous autoimmune diseases & chronic pain, no matter the world’s events & fears I’m going to make myself a black tutu dress with an underskirt of bright red. Paint my toenails fire engine red, style my hair like Marilyn Monroe and the sexy, beautiful, radiant, big as a buick Nana out for all to see. Just the anticipation has brightened each day, put zest into my life! It’s my version of Marilyn Monroe’s famous ballerina dress photo. So should you by any miracle see a photo of a fat woman with red hair in a black & red tutu just know it’s me.

    • I ABSOLUTELY want to see this portrait! That whole, “If only…” conditional approach to gratification and joy is baloney. We know this. Beautiful isn’t a number or an age or make-over, it’s the love in your gaze and the joy in your heart.
      Rock it, Nana. Marilyn would be proud of you!