Internet outage

Between going to bed and waking, my internet decided not to work. I don’t use a smart phone. My old phone is prepaid and doesn’t internet. So I am accessing my neighbour’s wifi with permission, while sitting in the gentle rain. Just letting you know that I won’t be around much until it’s fixed. Don’t anyone hold your breath.

I’ve reported it to the provider via email. Ha. Their website doesn’t offer online chat or the ability to report without enduring some sort of Ethernet cable olympics that I can neither print nor participate in from here. Have received a robot reply – yay!

I’m ok. I have everything I need except internet. I grew up just fine without it, so have some alternatives up my sleeve and in the cupboards. And I’ll sit here again from time to time.

Waving, feeling amused. Take good care of yourselves.

Be still my heart

This solitary isolation mode I’ve voluntarily agreed to, in the interests of public safety, isn’t so bad. Sure, it was a shock at first. Now, I’m finding more to add to the Happy Jar. This was going to be a chatty, long-winded affair, and because it’s late and I’m tired I’ll convert it to point form.

Zoom turns out to be a much more enjoyable and reliable experience than Skype. It’s perfect for psychologist appointments and group chats, for a start. Who knows how much more fun I can have if I can remember to wear the appropriate set of spectacles and find the app settings.

I’ve rediscovered the joy of organising and editing photos. Let’s just say they need organising if I’m to keep what’s left of my hair. Tonight I downloaded trial versions of ACDSee for Windows and Mac. So far so good.

I’ve set my laptop to display a never-ending slideshow of my favourite photos. Revisiting happy moments and favourite locations in this way, even while ironing, lifts my spirits.

My home is gradually becoming cleaner than it’s been for … a while.

I actually WANT to exercise, due to the lack of incidental walking. My home is SMALL.

I WANT to organise and declutter – basically because there’s no running away from the mess, haha.

I’ve been reminded of how many people I know, despite my socially-avoidant ways, and how sweet they are.

Australia just received a new season of Ozark on Netflix, and, best of all, I’ve discovered Mae Martin.

My new name

While checking in with my parents by phone, because they’re interstate and not internet users, my mother told me the new name she’d chosen for me. According to the internet, the name means humble flower. As a gardener obsessed with attracting pollinating insects, I think I can cope with that!

I’d invited my parents to choose a new name, for use only within the family. They weren’t using the name I’d chosen for myself, and it had started to bother me. I knew my mother had been particularly attached to the one she’d Christened me with, and she’d been deeply affected by my transition. So instead of asserting myself, I thought this might be a win/win solution.

It’s a shame I don’t feel able to share more about my mother, or about our relationship. It’s the sort of complicated story I’d enjoy in YA fiction. Let’s just say it’s been fraught and our moments of closeness are regrettably infrequent. She sounded happy that I was happy with the name, and I basked in that warmth.

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To help maintain a positive outlook during the next few months, I’m reinstating the Happy Jar. This success will be going in it. I’ll look forward to rereading everything at the end of the year. Do you keep a Happy Jar?

Gently managing anxiety

Even the word, anxiety, gives me anxiety. Ha.

Then the phrase beloved of psychologists, managing your anxiety, gives me the urge to kick random objects. So there’s that.

Yet here I am, needing to revise everything I’ve ever learned about how to stay balanced in a time of disruption. This morning I started to spiral.

I was going to make two lists: what helped and what didn’t. However, listing what didn’t help sounds like a recipe for a repeat of the earlier spiral. So, no.

What helped:

A stomp around the block, and exchanging greetings with random strangers at safe distances. Some were walking dogs. All called me “mate” or “buddy”. Bonus! Uniformed police, sitting in a parked car, paid me no nevermind. (No idea where I picked that phrase up from.)

Exchanging emails with an empathetic friend. Feeling seen and heard means the world when I’m alone among people who are swimming in their own distress.

Being arty. Drawing pictures of how I feel, reflecting on them, and noticing when my mood shifts.

Listing what makes a positive difference.

The usual slow breathing, slow music, singing, and not acting on unhelpful/angry thoughts.

To sum up: Exercise, plus feeling seen and heard and cared about. Now I’m in a better space to resume reaching out and expressing care and appreciation for others.

What’s your favourite music at the moment?

And here we are

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

I’m aiming for calm. A support worker didn’t visit and I hope they’re ok. (We can’t phone each other directly and the central switchboard is swamped, so I gave up.) Although my life is mostly domestic, I have to admit that this unexpected absence has thrown me. I’d counted on at least walking around the block with them, at a suitable distance from each other. Without that, and without contact from them, I’m thrown.

Being agoraphobic means I’m already home a lot. Having support to get out and about a bit is important for my sense of wellbeing. If this is going to be my new normal, I’m going to need to reorganise myself, alongside everyone else who’s suddenly in isolation. For this moment though, I’m just going to acknowledge my feelings. They’re saggy. I’ll draw a picture with crayons, then we’re done with that.

Ok, done. My disability application for priority grocery deliveries went through ok, so that’s good. The grocery delivery order is completed as well. What a relief! If I can’t get out to shop, I’m reliant on others. If they’re unavailable, there have to be other options. Again, I can’t be the only one in this situation.

It’s weird. I’m accustomed to being the only weirdo stuck at home while others carry on with their money making, shopping, socialising, travel and whatnot. And there’s still an element of that, but more are at home and any social contact I have is from an unsociable distance. No more hugs! The only touch I get is from my velcro cat, and as lovely as she is, come on, that’s not the same. An ex-partner used to keep her distance when I had a coldsore on my lip, and I felt like a leper. Is anyone else feeling like a leper, even if not yet infected with The Virus?

Should I add a bright side? Of course there have to be bright sides. A friend just emailed a link to a local business that now offers free delivery of healthy meals – enough to feed six. Very reasonably priced. If I had a freezer large enough, I’d probably opt into that. If I think of someone else who could benefit, I’ll gift them a meal. It’s great that people are thinking of creative solutions. One neighbour is leaving a bowl of chop suey on my letterbox tonight. She loves cooking and entertaining and is feeding multiple neighbours today. Bless her cotton socks.

The local library, now closed for several weeks at least, has ceased charging fines for overdue books. Definite upside. And although the internet is struggling with increased local demand, I still have internet and power and hot and cold running water, which is not always a given. I’m thinking now of Kiwi friends and of post-earthquake living. THAT was grim. Thinking of Croatia right now. One Kiwi mate told me that the increase in overall anxiety within their community affected them in unexpected ways. My mate relaxed, and put it down to no longer being the only anxious person in the village. Suddenly they felt ‘normal’ and felt they belonged.

Later: Heard about ViralKindness tonight. And received an apology for the support worker’s absence. Ate my chop suey and am trying to figure out what to do next. Unsettled. Have already made all my check-in calls. Will likely write my fingers off.

If you’re struggling, you’re not alone and we’ll get through this together. Take good care of yourself. Send smoke signals occasionally if you don’t feel up to writing or calling. You’re loved.

Sweet social support

This week I’ve been struck by others’ consideration and sweetness. The people I interacted with reminded me that humanity can be awesome.

There was the business that placed a bucket of long stemmed flowers outside their door with a “free flowers” sign on it, hoping to ease others’ stress a fraction. The people I passed (at arms length) on the street who smiled at me. The stressed small business owner who was characteristically cheeky, knowing they’d make me blush and laugh. The psychologist who rang to give me the option of video consults. And my GP who took extra care to put me at ease and ensure we covered all the necessary points. (It was a rerun of the usual things, nothing new, and I left with a bonus influenza jab.)

My disability support workers are always sweet, and they didn’t let me down this week. We talked about how things were going and how we were handling the extra chaos. One had thought ahead about how they might help me manage my anxiety if we encountered the sort of nonsense we’d seen on the news. (We were fine.) Even my support co-ordinator rang to check in and ask whether I needed anything. I was doing well, and it was still reassuring. This is the sort of detail I haven’t expected and am extra appreciative of.

I’m finding it hard to express the extent of my appreciation for disability support people in general, and ‘my’ people in particular. After so long without the right kind of help, I was lucky to find them. I’m so thankful for their skills, genuine caring, and ability to be gracious under pressure.

This is all without mentioning friends and locals. I think I’d get offensively mushy if I talked of them right now. Haha. I know that others are dealing with their own fears and panic. We all have our own personal financial, work, childcare, or quarantine situations, and I hope you have people in your life who will be randomly or regularly kind.

The radio just played this song, which I mistook for a lullaby. Classic Paul Kelly depth and heart. This duet with Gurrumul is more the vibe I was after for the end of this post. Thanks for reading. Be careful out there.

Name change oversight

Here’s something I overlooked – the name listed for my supermarket deliveries. I’ve used the old name and password combo for years and it’s not been an issue.

Now the rules have changed and grocery deliveries are only available for vulnerable people – the elderly, the disabled and those required to isolate themselves. I qualify. But I need to verify my eligibility, and my delivery info and my ID no longer match.

I can fix this. It might take a while, as the phone and webchat options are both swamped and it’s not possible for me to update my name at my end. I’m just astounded to be still finding areas of my life that I forgot to update the paperwork for. And I wonder who might be in a similar situation.