Well, here we are in 2021.
It’s been quite a journey. Now, I’m not one of those people who’ve been hoping that we’d all wake up on January first and find that all the struggles of 2020 had magically disappeared. Things rarely change in a single day. But I’ve slowly been coming to the realization that I need to change the way I do things. And now is as good a time as any to start.
First, as you can see from the photo, we have kittens! Up until about six weeks ago our fur babies consisted of a fluffy doggo, Zari, and one black cat, Luna. On my birthday last month we ventured to the pet store during a gathering of fostered kittens. There were so many. But these two, they caught our attention.
I hadn’t planned to add more black cats specifically to the mix, and certainly hadn’t planned on getting more than one. I had hoped to bring home someone to keep Luna company. But these two were brothers. And so precious. Our daughters took them into their arms and, well, the rest is history.
So allow me to introduce our newest snuggle buddies: Milo and Jinx. And now, our fur babies consist of a fluffy doggo and THREE black cats.
I’ve heard so many foster moms talking about how hard it is to adopt out the black cats. People still hold to the old superstitions. But these babies are like my good luck charms. And we now have three tiny panthers running around the house.
This, in my opinion, is a literal representation of joy.
Plus, as a way to not overwhelm people with an abundance of fur baby photos, I’ve started a new Instagram account. Just lots of furry happiness.
You can see it here: instagram.com/fur_babies_for_days/
I did mention resolutions in the title, did I not? This post, after all, is not simply an excuse to share kitten photos.
Technically I never do New Years resolutions or promises or whatever. But this IS the time of year when I’m packing away the Christmas decorations and it naturally lends itself to a time of cleansing and rejuvenation.
And this happens to be the year that I realized I needed to give myself a break.
You see, awhile back I had decided I needed to just try a little harder in order to accomplish everything that I thought needed to get done. I could do it. Sure. I could work full-time, take care of my kids, go back to school for my master’s degree, plan a wedding, and pack up and move to a new house.
AND I could do it all while getting back to publishing posts on my blog full of projects and recipes and tons of gorgeously staged and perfectly lighted Pinterest-worthy photographs.
Yeah. I convinced myself that was all going to happen.
Just try harder, I thought.
I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed. I had too much on my plate. The blog wasn’t happening at all and the wedding took more work than I expected. I had to take a break from going to school myself once my kids were sent home from school due to the pandemic. House hunting also became complicated with the suddenly changing market.
And then, last fall, I got sick.
Out of the many experiences I’ve had in life, including difficult childbirth and repeated bouts of mono, Covid is by far the worst. People often say “it’s no joke,” and while that on one hand feels like a devastating understatement, it’s also frightfully accurate.
Besides, laughing causes coughing fits.
It’s the end of January and I’ve been in pain every day since the end of October. That’s a great many days of heavy pressure in my chest, a fog stunting my very thoughts, a fatigue so intense it’s crushing. So many nights of lying awake shrunken into a shaking ball struggling to inhale and worrying that if I fell asleep I may not wake again.
Even after the worst of the pain dimmed, and after two trips to the hospital, I was still left with “long Covid” symptoms. So here I am, in a new house without the energy to unpack boxes, my degree still on hold for the foreseeable future, and with my emergency leave depleted so that I’m back at my job where I end each day relieved that I’ve managed not to pass out.
It’s no longer about “trying harder.” There is no hidden reservoir of energy that will suddenly well up if I just will it with positive thoughts. No way to even pretend that I can “do it all.” I can barely do what I need to do to sustain a semblance of regular life most days. And many days, even less.
It’s tough. Which is, yet again, another understatement.
But it’s also given me a great deal of time to sit and think. Is this really what I wanted out of life? Such hectic busyness just to produce some outward appearance of perfection?
What makes me happy in life? My kids, my husband, my pets. Reading, writing, being creative. These are the things I need to focus on. Without giving a damn if the accompanying photos are magazine-perfect. I can sit in a chair and read. I can do crafts with my kids. I can play with the fur babies. But it doesn’t all have to be in one afternoon.
It’s time to breathe.
One breath at a time I can do things I enjoy. I can live life slowly and still be valid. I can take my time and still be happy.
The laundry doesn’t need to be folded. Breathe. The spots on the bathroom mirror aren’t bothering anyone. Breathe. There’s nothing wrong with eating on paper plates because the “real” plates are still in the dishwasher. Breathe. A degree isn’t necessary to prove your worth. Breathe. Unpacked boxes in the corner are not the end of the world. Breathe. You are not a bad person for calling out sick from work. Breathe.
B R E A T H E
Smile at your kids. Sit with your family and read a book aloud. Scratch a fur baby behind the ears.
Catch your breath.
Take the time that you have and use it well. And don’t forget that it’s okay to spend it slowly.
One breath at a time.