Friday, August 15, 2014

My Hermitage

When I read The Cloister and the Hearth for high school literature I thought being a hermit would be fun. Don't get me wrong...I am not a sociopath. Quite the opposite, really. I love observing people (the more diverse the better). But you have to admit being a hermit, as described in The Cloister and the Hearth, does have a certain cozy feel about it. And for the past several weeks I have been able to experience a full blown hermitage...or as close as you can come when you live with ten other people.

Here's how I came to be a hermit: Henry, my darling little brother, was recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder (more on that here). The medication he is being treated with suppresses the immune system so severely any exposure to sickness is dangerous. By order of his geneticist, Henry and, consequently, those of us lucky enough to live with and hold him everyday (yes, I am trying to make you jealous) cannot be exposed to any possible sickness. So we aren't leaving the house except when absolutely necessary and then only with plenty of hand sanitizer.

Now some of you may see this as a death sentence. I am a person who likes to go and do so hermitude (let's see how many tenses can I come up with for the word hermit, shall we?) doesn't come naturally to me. But as I've been weighing the pros/cons of the life of a hermit I've come up with a surprising number of pros.

1. I've been remarkably efficient. I've read two and a half books in two weeks. Complications: a young surgeons notes on an imperfect science by Atul Gawande, The Pact by The Three Doctors and How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman. For me, a dyslexic and habitually slow reader, that is a gloriously fast pace. Plus I've completed two knitting projects and am making steady progress through a third. (Check out my Ravelry page for project details!)

2. Afternoons by the pool have now become morning/afternoon/evenings by the pool. Most days I go straight from my pajamas to my bathing suit to the shower to my pajamas. It's lovely.

3. We've had some serious family time. Including, but not limited to, regular family dinners, cut-throat games of Monopoly, Castles of Burgundy (our new favorite) and badminton till my legs...and arms...and abs ache.

4. Sunday mornings, watching church via live stream, by the pool, in my bathing suit, with doughnuts AND coffee is definitely the way to go.

5. We're developing our creativity. Yesterday we learned to square dance via You Tube. Because we've been at home for a month and are running out of things to do. FYI: Square dancing is pretty darn fun and not nearly as complicated as it looks in Barbra Stanwyck movies. You learn something every day.

While I definitely would not thrive on this life style for an extended period it has been a much needed blessing and break after an unusually hectic summer. God knows what we need when we need it. But maybe that's just the intense positive thinking training my dear mother (and part time therapist) speaking.

So now I'm curious. Have any of you dear readers ever had a go at the life of a hermit?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On Coping and Cheap Therapy

The thing about going through hard spots with people is you learn so much about them. Granted, it's not always things you wanted to know. You may come out respecting them just a tad less but that is entirely beside the point. The main thing is this: when you go through a struggle with someone you get to know and really understand who they are.

Through this unbelievably crazy year I have learned how my mom, father and older sister cope. With stress, anxiety, heartache. To balance, reorganize and find a sense of normality.

My mom. She writes. It's amazing. Sometimes within just minutes of hearing some unfortunate news my mom will be furiously writing. What is amazes me is how the things she writes during these frenzies are always the most heartfelt and beautiful pieces.

My older sister takes a different approach. Namely, pounding the piano within an inch of it's life. Just kidding. Really, she is a fantastic pianist and I love hearing her play. But when life is out of control you can bet the piano will be a bit louder, faster and more passionate.

Now my father can go one of two ways. Sometimes he will completely throw himself into a project (building a shed, planting a hedge, researching jogging strollers) that really has nothing to do with the situation at hand. But don't tell him that because he will completely zone in on that project and that project alone as imperative to the well being of those he loves. Alternatively, he will go in his office, put on his noise canceling headphones and sing (loudly) while he works. Note: I love him to death but singing is really not his strongest suite.

As for me, well, let's just say I do not have such wholesome habits. Turn my world upside down and I will spend money, usually on baby clothes, and eat ungodly amounts of chocolate.

Regardless our methods, the important thing is that we do cope. We know enough about ourselves to know what we need and what works for us. We accept that we've been knocked down, dealt a bad hand. We acknowledge that. We reorganize...with our music, our project, our writing and, yes, even our chocolate. But we don't stay there. We stand back up, pull a forgotten trick out of our sleeve, wow them all with our ability to still be standing. And then we go on.

It may leave me broke and with a few extra pounds but, hey, it's still cheaper than therapy.

How do you cope with the messy bits in life? Comment and let me know...I may need your suggestions if I ever decided to reform my habits.