All right, wellness wankers, it’s time to show our work. March is over. What’s done is done. The work we did throughout the month will manifest, as will the work we didn’t do. Here’s the rundown of my own highlights. I hope yours got even higher.
Social Wellness (Relationships and Community)
The Reach, as in reaching out, to make or re-form connections that have been lost since I left social media. I can go for a repeating stretch of days in which the only interactions I have are work-related and with the spouse. Home/work/home, repeat. Despite all the data that says Facebook leads to greater feelings of isolation, just try life without it. In a few short months I know virtually nothing about anyone other than the people I see every day and I see virtually no one other than those at work and home. I’m definitely not going back to Facebook but I do feel the need to add exposure to more than the same five people every week.
It is every bit as simple as it sounds. I shoot for several days per week since I’ve learned that an every-day requirement is the kiss of death for my initiatives. I call, text, or email someone I wish was still in my life, someone I miss, or someone with whom I previously enjoyed a stronger connection. I keep it light. I keep it short. I keep it sincere. It’s a practice in taking responsibility for how lonely I allow myself to be. Because let’s face it — when we are truthful with ourselves, loneliness is self-imposed.
The Mend, as in mending fences. I have some broken friendships I long to repair; some out of a sense of responsibility, some because I genuinely miss them. I also have some broken relationships that need to remain broken but that’s a topic for another post. For the fractured friendships that can be salvaged, I got off my ass and made the first move this month. I also made the second and third moves. I opened a dialogue. I offered love and apologies. It didn’t work out the way I hoped (so far) but my intentions and actions created possibility, and possibility compels the Universe to conspire in our favor. If these relationships are ever going to be different we have to create an environment in which it is possible for them to change.
The Bread Break, as in breaking bread or sharing a meal. You may remember the neighbors who are dog parents of my dog’s new girlfriend. We invited them to stay for drinks around the fire pit during one of the doggy play dates. They invited us to dinner at their home. This is huge for us. In the ten years that The Chef and I have been together we have never, ever been dinner guests in someone’s home that wasn’t a family obligation or holiday. Seriously, this is the first time in ten years we’ve shared a meal inside someone’s home that wasn’t a blood relative. In a restaurant, yes. With a group, yes. On weekends, yes. But an intimate dinner at home with another couple on a school night, no. Of course the biggest reason was always scheduling around the night shift. We no longer have that as a reason or an excuse. And yes, they served bread.
The Re-entry, as in re-entering a social circle after previously drifting out of it. We returned to my local running club’s monthly meeting. Due to the aforementioned night shift, The Chef had been away even longer than I. We made a prodigal return. I was genuinely happy to see all my old running flames and made sure to say so. The Chef did too, flexing his stiff and sore social graces after 19 years of night-shift zombie stupor. We got equal shares of warm welcomes and cold shoulders but again, we created possibilities for our roles in our community to be different just by showing up. Anyone who has known me any length of time has heard me say, “We not only have to start somewhere; sometimes we have to start over somewhere.”
A funny thing happened on the way into the meeting room. It required a traipse through a busy pizza dining room. A former boss saw me walking by, squaring my shoulders and putting on my brave face. She came looking for me, found me, hugged me, and set about the business of re-connecting — exactly what I hoped to do with my old running buds. She invited me to start walking with her in the mornings next month. We live in the same neighborhood. We work similar schedules. We’ve got a brand new indoor track just four minutes from our homes. Guess whose got two thumbs and happens to be recovering from a fresh running injury? This chick.
The Find, as in treasures. As in one man’s trash is another woman’s treasure. I happen to have a penchant for old school cruiser bicycles. It’s true. Big fenders, big bent handlebars, big grandma basket on the front, cargo receptacle on the rear for picnics or library books, ching-ching bell, seats for fat-bottomed girls. When I lived in California we called them beach cruisers. My state has no beaches so they are called street cruisers here. I’ve always wanted one but even the cheap versions sold at big-box retailers are not cheap. The fancy versions of higher quality sold at bike shops require an investment far greater than my willingness to invest.
The folks across the street had a yard sale this month. Among the wares strewn across their driveway was a rusty dusty beach cruiser with rotten tires, years of neglect, and missing a seat. It was a boy’s bike, not a girl’s, and definitely a big-box retail item but the price — I kid you not — a whopping five dollars. Guess whose got two thumbs and now owns $5 beach cruiser? You guessed it.
A replacement seat, some tubes, a little lube and a good bath later, I’ve got a secondhand transgender sweet-cruising ride. We also picked up tennis rackets on the cheap, so in addition to my regular trinity of yoga, running, and hiking, physical wellness work now includes tennis and cycling.
The Cheat, as in sneaky tricks to cheat the pitfalls of sedentary office work. To facilitate more movement during my day I slide a thin pair of fitted shorts under skirts and dresses so I can get up and move more, and more importantly move better. I have luscious thighs that crave each other. They can’t help it; one leg is irresistible to the other. They are always touching each other lovingly. Without a little help from a well-placed garment, they will chafe during 10,000 steps per day. I refuse to wear pants every day so I devised a method for wearing what I want while moving the way I want. My favorites are these and these. I gave up cruel shoes years ago so these Cheat Panties (my fun name) are the latest additions to my wellness arsenal, working to defeat all the typical desk jockey excuses.
Intellectual Wellness (Creativity & Learning)
The Usual, as in exactly that. I wrote about this earlier in the month. I don’t publish many things in this category because they would offend folks with certain sensitivities and compromised senses of humor. My work on my novel, writing for this blog, making amateur digital art, etc. is the usual. This month it could be argued that many of the things I learned to do in the next category would also qualify, since I had to acquire new skills to execute them. Read on.
Occupational Wellness (Work, Finances & Money)
The Fast, as in the Spending Fast. It continues. I continue to love it. I continue to make allowances for $5 bikes and essentials that allow us to save money on fees for essential services. More on that below.
The Craft, as in learning ways to repair things myself. We inherited an ancient rocking chair from The Chef’s family when his mother died. YogiCat used it as launch point to catch a mosquito in midair. The rocker tipped over and part of the seating broke. There is no antique furniture repair here, so we were faced with the prospect of loading it up and carting it to Little Rock to pay for expert repairs, which are charged similar to car repairs — parts and labor. I opted instead to find the parts on the internet for under $20 and many articles and YouTube videos later, made the repairs myself. I’m sitting in it now, comfy as Little Miss Muffet.
The Validation, as in all you people who made fun of me and my preoccupation with self-portraits? Y’all can suck it. The Chef finished his course and earned his license for his new career. When he needed some headshots for promotional materials, business cards, and his new website, he didn’t have to pay a photographer for them. Who’s got two thumbs and an amateur photog wife? That guy. My year of self-portraits parlayed into photos good enough to pass muster with his agency. Who knew those skills I honed collecting criticism from haters at large would come in handy supporting our financial wellness? Mwahahahahaaa…
The Trim, as in trimming things myself for which I usually pay someone. One of those things is my dog. He requires regular grooming for doggy wellness, which gets expensive as Spring turns into Hell Heat. The idea was to continue letting the professionals do their work but only half as often. We bought some clippers and gave El Doggo a home-shearing in between his regular grooming appointments to see if we could cut those appointments down to half as many per year. Success! Of course the first time was a raggy, shaggy DIY result but we will get better with practice. In between our fur butcherings the pro groomers can clean him up and make him pretty again. The money we will save on grooming will defray the cost of flea and tick prevention and vet bills. Whoo hoo!
Last year we paid a friend $100 to trim our crape myrtles. We have ten of them along our back fence. What we don’t have is a chainsaw or a folding ladder. This year we did it ourselves, with a handsaw, loppers, and tippy-toes. It was damn hard work as compared to trimming the dog but we got it done. We also got some cuts and bruises so between now and next Spring we will definitely scout a chainsaw and a ladder. We saved $100 and generated firewood for my stress-relieving, spirit-soothing fires.
The Burn, as in my backyard fires mentioned above.
The Quiet, as in prescribed periods of time with nothing blaring or droning — no radio, no TV, no input from screens to fill the mind with chatter. Even ten minutes makes a difference.
The Rituals, performed on the daily: morning prayers, evening meditation, study and reflection, energy work, direct contact with Nature.
And that’s a wrap. Keep working at it, folks, and wellness is inevitable. It is our natural state. We’ve found innumerable ways to work ourselves out of wellness. Think of this as work to return to wellness. I’ll meet you back here in April to show my work. I hope it compels you to work at your own wellness. The world needs people who are well. So we need you. And we need you well.