Good morning, everyone ~Truly, my wish for each of you today is that you do indeed have not just a good morning, but an entire day filled with goodness. It’s been such a long time filled with challenges, struggles, losses; and we’re not out of the proverbial woods by any means. Yet, how ‘medicinal’ it would be to experience an entire day of only goodness!

The only constant is “change”. Suddenly it’s Summer and overnight we find ourselves facing a new challenge: the possibility of brown-outs or black-outs. The newsfeed recently posted an advisory to stay indoors as much as possible, and while inside, to keep blinds drawn and lights turned off as much as possible. The demand being made on our GRU electricity suppliers is already such that drastic measures are already being touted. (All the more reason to wish one another a day of “good” experiences, eh?) Summer-related childhood brain-files for me are filled with memories of changes, some good, some bad, some indifferent. Being out of school for the Summer, of course, was the biggest change of all. I missed my friends, learning something new each day, having a set schedule and knowing what was expected of me.  Work on the farm was different. There was always something that needed to be done; yet, the parents seldom stated what they expected of me. I learned by observing them, and by taking their respective philosophies to heart. During the school year, my only job was to dress myself/feed myself/go to school; and in the afternoon, do my homework/feed myself/go to bed on time. During the school break, farm-only days started just after sunrise and continued rather steady until sundown. It was best to do the gardening early; otherwise, the heat built up quickly to an intolerable level. The cow needed to be milked twice a day: just after finishing the garden chores in the morning, and again just before sunset in the evening. Pig, cow, dogs, cats and chickens had to be fed. Eggs had to be collected. Water had to be hauled in buckets from the spring. 

The garden had to be weeded, sometimes watered, and frequently harvested. The produce had to be processed. Fruit trees and grapevines added to the work load of processing. Fruit trees, grapevines, wild berries — those could be harvested any time of the day, but the earlier the better; and, the harvest had to be processed quickly. The laundry was the hardest of all chores, for if the rains failed to come, we carried buckets of water from the spring to fill the tub on the ringer-washer and two rinsing tubs. Clothes were hung out on a clothes line; collected and sorted by what needed ironing and what could be folded ‘as is’. In the hottest months of the year, we worked hardest!

At the time, those activities and the endless heat did not create happy brain-files. It’s hard to be happy when you’re exhausted most of the time. Yet, when I deliberately pop them open these days, I feel a measureless amount of gratitude for those experiences, as well as for the dedication to duty/each other that my parents exemplified. I do not recall at any time either of them sighing disappointedly, or grumping/complaining about the necessary chores. They just did them … as need arose … quietly working side-by-side or each doing their work alone. Mom did all the canning/jam making; Dad did all the building of/repairs to the house and the out-buildings. Both worked the garden, maintained the wood supply for both wood-burning stoves, harvested, tended, and hauled water as needed.

I helped each of them where and as much as possible. I learned far more about equality in personhood and integrity of speech/work than I can ever begin to describe. Dad’s philosophy: “We’re all put here on Earth to help each other.” Mom’s philosophy: “When you see a job that needs to be done, just do it.” My philosophy: “It must be effective AND efficient.”

During these recent, long months of health issues (and the two years of isolation prior to that due to the pandemic), I have seen countless jobs that needed to be done … and could not do them nor help my husband get them done. Thus, I was robbed of being able to “help each other”. I have not been effective, and although my mobility/energy/stamina are improving, I am far from being efficient. Things just take a lot longer to do. Some things must go undone altogether. It has been hard to feel happy while also feeling exhausted by chronic pain.

I have had to adjust my entire life/lifestyle to fit the decreased abilities/increased limitations of my body. Mind remembers Life Before. Brain-files pop open, revealing How It Used To Be, and there is a measure of sadness, even a sense of loss, in that remembering. To find my point-of-balance again, I must embrace the ‘as is’ and deliberately pop open happy brain-files (for those seldom pop open without conscious deliberation).  So, I pop open memories of:

– Hot Summer childhood days when we would make time to walk to the creek or to the river where we would soak in that cold mountain-stream water.
– Sitting on the front porch at dusk, resting our tired bodies and catching the cooling breezes while listening to owls, katydid, cicada and crickets.
– Eating bowls of fresh wild strawberries, flavored with sugar (or wild honey) and fresh, creamy milk.
– Shelling peas, snapping beans, husking corn in the cooler evening air as Mom/Dad told tales of their childhood in the higher regions of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
– Waking at dawn to watch the sun walk across the garden where Morning Glories were want to be, with their patchwork-quilt beauty of green, blue, white, purple.
– Vacation Bible School, where for an entire week I got to learn something and socialize with kids my own age.
– And then, as Summer drew to a close and the garden/fruit trees/grapevine/wild berries finished their season of giving, a whole new school year began. New things to learn! Friends to see again.

It’s the happy brain-files that require us to stop, make a decision, do something that helps our own self feel better/do better; and that in turn helps others (and the good Earth). It’s a job that needs doing. The reward of which is both effective AND efficient. What better philosophy could there be, eh?

Farm-work (like old age) is not for sissies nor for shy folks! Both require courage and willingness. Doing the necessary work without complaint makes the work easier and the time more pleasant for everyone. So do the work of resolving difficult brain-files as well as the work of deliberately accessing happy ones. Stay “brave enough”, my friends, and stay “willing enough” to do what needs to be done. Your personal point-of-balance is unique. Only you know it when you find it, and only you know how to do the finding. Friends help the process by simply being friends.

Measureless thanks/love to each of you for being such good partners in this work of Pain Management that we’re doing and have done together now for 7 years. As we begin our 8th year together, let’s take a moment to imagine ourselves returning to happy places/times/ experiences that we’ve co-created. From there we can forge ahead with improved strength/energy/stamina, for we have learned much together. There is much more to explore. There is, likewise, much that each of us has learned during our time of separation. One day we will gather again, with our buckets of harvested goodies to process through, stories to tell, and blessings to reveal. Just like in childhood … when the end of Summer signaled a return to both the old familiar as well as the exciting new … I look forward with great pleasure to that day when our Group can be together again. Anticipation can be a healing elixir!

Challenges-n-changes continue, of course. Such is Life! Our philosophies can guide us through those challenges and lead us back again toward personal point-of-balance by way of remembering/anticipating co-creation of new happy brain-files. I can already taste the reward of such a feast-n-fest. It has the flavor of wild strawberries, sweetened with sugar (or wild honey) and fresh creamy milk!

Gentle hugs/much love,