Finding Peace During Troubling Times




2020 was a trying year for all of us. Not only did it have one of the most dramatic and tumultuous elections in recent history, we also received a constant barrage of media highlighting the rivalry between both tribal parties of the left and the right, here in the States. Throw in the Covid Global Pandemic, which contributed to plenty of fear, and uncertainty, and we were in for one roller coaster of a ride! 

I remember the first two months we went into lockdown in March of 2020. The weekend Texas shut down, we got word that my mother-in-law had passed away in Canada. We were unable to travel there to have a funeral for her as Canada had just closed its borders. It was a trying time for our family, as I'm sure it was for people everywhere, but I remember that as a nation, most people including my family, wanted to do their part in abiding by the rules the government imposed. 

Two months later into the lockdown, and the constant worry of having a husband who worked with the public stressed me to no end. To add to that, I remember praying for my only child, who is now a teenager, getting more and more depressed. I know she loves her parents, but let's face it, there's only so much parent togetherness a young teenage girl can take. Because of that, I spent the first two months sifting through studies about Covid-19 to assess the risk for myself. I was also concerned about how all my autoimmune issues were going to have an effect during this time. It was frustrating to see the experts ping ponging back and forth about masking and unmasking and arguing about how long to keep us in. "Four weeks to end the spread" turned into months that angered many in states that enforced strict lockdowns. I could see why cities like New York with such dense population wanted to extend their lockdowns, after all, they do live right on top of each other, but I started questioning the sanity of a one-blanket- fits-all mentality for all states across the board. The city that I lived in has neighborhoods and rural areas that are more spread out, so I didn't see the need to continue ruining lives and our economy for a virus that was 98-99% survivable(1). If anything, the lockdowns also brought a rise to substance abuse(2), domestic violence(3) and suicide(4). Some things were just not making sense. Most Americans tried to comply with the guidelines, but it soon became questionable if certain politicians weren't using this as a way to leverage more power when media talking heads excused protests and riots in Portland Oregon, as if those areas were immune from the spread, while other states like Michigan and Chicago were under serious lockdowns. Then came the debates over voting in person vs. voting by mail that led to more strife between both parties. Considering all the uncertainty over this virus and the fact that not even the leading medical experts could seem to agree, I couldn't understand why we couldn't just take the common sense approach of letting families choose what was best for their own family members. Today, we're still battling each other over vaccinating vs. non vaccinating and masking vs. unmaking mandates-- GAH! The insanity of it all is enough to riddle the most chill human being with anxiety. 

I had to take a step back and remind myself that when I have no control of the external forces around me, the only thing I can do is focus on what is within the things I can control, and focus on that. For one thing, I couldn't be so afraid of dying that I'd forget to stop living, so I did the only thing I could do to end the madness: I shut it off and let my daughter out of jail. How? I limited my social media use and focused on completing my next novella. I limited my news watching by tuning in 1-2 times a week, just enough to stay informed. We social distanced, wore our masks where required in private businesses, and worked on building our immune system. I don't know about you, but I get so freakin' tired of tuning in to the social outrage of the day on TV and reading about what's got the social media mob underwear in a twist. Sometimes, the echo chambers on both sides are so loud, you can't even hear yourself think, anymore. Not that I haven't been a willing participant of ranting and raving at some point, most of us have, but I just found it healthier to soften the blow by doing less of the things that add drama to my life. It's not healthy. We're all drowning in this tsunami of endless information, that we have stopped grounding ourselves in wisdom, so I chose to focus on something else, instead: Finding joy and peace with my immediate family in whatever way I could and do what's best for myself and for them. 

Feb 2021 Texas snow storm-
my snow collection containers

I got to work on the things I enjoyed doing to take care of my health and my family members. I worked on keeping my immune system healthy by taking plenty of vitamin D, zinc, garlic, and thankfully, I have been able to ward of Covid so far. Then came a Texas freeze after the pandemic that left us without light for five days and no water for two days. Thankfully, we had a fireplace, a cast iron barbeque pit and plenty of snow to melt, so we pulled together and survived the storm, but this got me thinking about how very ill-prepared we were about being self-sustainable, so I wanted to start with a few things to ensure that we had some resources to get us through tough times, should the need arise, again. 

For the last few years, I've been container gardening and storing non perishable food items. I started with herbs, but this year, I wanted to move on to vegetables. It wasn't an easy task, but it's kept me busy. Due the the bioidentical hormone treatments I've been using called BioTE, I'm able to do more than I ever have before. I feel more balanced emotionally, less tired, and I can endure stressful events without feeling ragged. This gave me the energy to work on my garden and the exercise, sweat, and oxygen I get from growing my own food has given me some added benefits. Along with a prescribed medication that worked for me, I've lost 15 pounds in one year- yay! Being outdoors was one of the best things I could do. Most people with MTHFR mutations(5) tend to store more toxins, so sauna treatments are recommended to help detoxify. I don't own a sauna, but there's nothing like Texas heat to get you sweating. I looked at it as my gym workout, but instead of dragging myself twenty minutes to drive to one, I simply stepped outside. After all, doing repeated functional movements like lifting, shoveling and squatting, is better than having to pay for a gym membership, and with today's rising gas prices, I'm adding money to my pocket by not having to drive the distance. Plus, my husband is thankful for the additional perks that's come with a nicely-shaped booty, haha! I even added a project when I made the decision to reposition some river rock to our front yard for some landscaping. It was hard work but a great distraction.
 
It was hard work but so worth it!
moving rock from my backyard to the front



















When I do have to go to work, it's nice to come home, jump into my garden clothes and get sweating. If I need to release some steam, I step outside and yank some weeds. With that said, I also take advantage of this time to listen to an audiobook. I keep waiting for the day that I will have all the time in the world to sit and read all the books in my collection by the ocean, but who am I kidding? I don't have that time or luxury, so I find it by listening to my audiobooks when I'm gardening. It's like a two for one bargain. I get caught up on my reading list and a sense of personal satisfaction knowing what I'm putting in the food my family is eating.  I've grown lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and transplanted basil, sage, and rosemary. Recently, I prepped a bedding for some green onions, carrots, spinach and bok choy for the fall, so we'll see how my fall harvest comes out. I live in zone 9 in Texas, so I'm fortunate to be able to grow things year round, that is, depending on whether I can fight off squirrels and the pill bugs than seemed to have declared war on my property when I'm not looking- heh, heh.

my herb bedding
I built this netting contraption to get rid of the squirrels
but the pill bugs are a royal pain in my butt
bean poles & cucumbers on the other side
   
There's something about getting back to nature that calms me and refocuses my attention to what's really important: my health and my family. The more technologically advanced we get as a people, the more I seem to miss the personal satisfaction of rolling up my sleeves and working hard. The powers that be are going to continue cementing division. That tired old trope of dividing us by race, class, parties, gender- and now maskers vs. unmaskers, vaccinators vs. non-vaccinators- will never really go away, at least, not until one of those powers get what they want. It's easy to get sucked into that if I let it, and I have, many times over. But I realize now that when I feel myself getting sucked into their vortex, I shut it off, get to work on myself, and that's all I can do. If there is one thing that is certain is that you can't always convince the world or change it, but you can fix yourself first, do the best you can to help those around you, and let the chips fall where they land. For personal reasons, I'm not much of a church goer, but faith in God has always kept me grounded. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but it has always worked for me, and that has always brought me peace during times when there is no peace to be found out in a world turned upside down. 

The previous owners filled the side of
my house with river rock, which is pretty,
but really hard to walk on.

I removed the rock and mulched it. My dog LOVES it!


References: 
1. https://ncov2019.live/calculator

2. Mark É. Czeisler, etal. June 24–30, 2020. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm


3. Boserup ,Brad, etal. 2020 Dec. Alarming trends in US domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic
38(12): 2753–2755. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7195322/


4. Sher, Leo. October 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, Volume 113, Issue 10, , Pages 707–712. https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article/113/10/707/5857612


5. Cortez, Jax. Feb 23, 2017. Are you a Mutant? https://www.journeyoutofthepainfogandfatigue.com/2017/02/are-you-mutant.html















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