At Home With Myself

by Eileen Pedersen, Trail, BC

Is it possible to be up in such a down time?

I like to think so; in fact I do think so; in fact the answer is YES.

Isolated at home, freshly showered and all dressed up…. With SOMEWHERE to go: My Office. I’m decluttering—paper, files, books, boxes, shelves, and my bulletin board. What a delight to revisit stored letters and documents from my youth and, my child-rearing, teaching, and traveling past. In grade one Miss Flick wrote: “No more school work at home; Eileen needs real play.” She changed my life. Through viewing my son’s artwork and poignant writings over the years I deepened my love and respect for this creative, funny, and resilient being.

Are Politics and the Pandemic still occurring? Are we still experiencing losses in different areas of our lives? Do we miss our families and friends and physical touch? Do feelings of depression and panic threaten to overwhelm us? Yes. This is not about denial of very serious situations. We are all affected. How can we not be? I’m lucky I have a small pension income from teaching and my basic health care is covered. But, my immediate family lives over 2000 miles away. Being alone and lonely can lead me down a rabbit hole if I’m not vigilant.

So this morning after meditating and showering, I donned my newest thrift store skirt, did up my hair and face, and got to work.

I was not always like this. During the last half of my lifetime, I’ve been practising the art of psychological and emotional excavation. Over time, I discovered a gold mine in the deep recesses of my psyche. I saw how angry I was and how I was being a victim of circumstances that happened in my life. I saw I blamed others for my situations. I saw how depressed and powerless I’d been as a result, and how I withdrew from friends and family. And how I lived a frenzied life always ‘on the go’, trying to make up for the flawed self I ‘knew’ myself to be. I discovered that I failed to be responsible for my own well-being. I was stressed to the gills and I was drowning. I had experienced my own personal pandemic.

What does this have to do with Covid 19? Well, this particular brand of solitude has been a god-send for me. I’ve never felt as connected to myself and others as I do now. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be still, to dig deeper, to nurture my relationships, to declutter my physical environment as well as my internal one, and to acknowledge what my life is actually for. A few months ago I declared that what I wanted was Vitality and Freedom for All. But as I carefully shoveled and brushed aside more dirt, I discovered strands of fossilized thoughts that were blocking this virtuous declaration. I did not want to admit that I didn’t actually want Vitality and Freedom for SOME people. Ouch. How come? What resentments was I holding on to? I donned my miner’s helmet, turned on the lamp, and with great trepidation started looking around for where I was not being compassionate towards others.

Will this self discovery ever end? Probably not. There’s always another layer. Am I open to it? HELL YAH!!

I feel very privileged to have had this quiet time to explore my life, to loosen the chains of my self-imposed prison, to deepen my relationships, and to ‘allow’ others their freedoms to be and do. And to avail myself of the internet for being in communication, for being entertained, and for continuing to participate in courses with a community of people on the same path as I am. Enter ZOOM.

I don’t know how I’ll be if extremely dire circumstances arise in my life, and they might. My intention is to experience them fully with grace and gratitude. My gratitude journal, by the way, is alive and well. It’s amazing how much there is to be thankful for. Am I still angry? Yup, sometimes. So what? I am human after all. And I have the capacity to examine what’s going on and to clean up my messes.

I am in awe of people’s creative solutions and expressions in dealing with these trying circumstances and times. I know that for me, when I, just for a moment, set aside the thoughts and feelings that suck my energy, I can choose a different way to be….one that raises my spirits and transforms how I experience my life, even in the face of, at times, debilitating health issues. This morning I chose to have fun and so, I dressed up. Last Friday, January 8, I dressed up heels and lipstick and all, and took myself to a concert—in my living room. I watched ‘Aloha From Hawaii’ in celebration of Elvis Presley’s 85th birthday. I even danced.

Will those thoughts and feelings of despair disappear forever? No. They are etched in my brain as neuronal patterns which love to be awakened. They’re about surviving my life. And I’m no longer about ‘just’ surviving. I’m about thriving.

Eileen Truant Pedersen is an adult educator, writer, and retired school teacher who loves kids, music, dancing, and photography. She is the author of “Set in Stone~A History of Trail’s Rock Walls”, about the 100s of rock walls and their builders, mostly Italian stone masons. Her son and grandsons are based in the Northwest Territories. She returned to her home town of Trail, BC 20 years ago.