Practising gratitude

As we head into week 17 of public health measures to protect ourselves, others and our health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s hope for a shift into stage 3, being reunited with loved ones, and looking forward—with both trepidation and excitement—to what the world will be like when we come out of this.

Right now, many of us are also dealing with a prolonged heat wave and dry spell—and, if like me, you don’t have a yard, balcony or air conditioning, it can be particularly oppressive. And my fridge is now on the fritz; luckily, the apartment next to me is vacant, so my super gave me the keys and I’m using that fridge. Building management has been notified, and now I wait to see if it will be repaired or replaced; it’s an older second-hand model, so it will likely be replaced. And I’m grateful that I was able to salvage the contents of my fridge (freezer is still working, thankfully).

With all the recent upheaval and so many things out of our control, it can be hard to stay positive and keep the faith, as it were. And if you struggle with anxiety and depression (I do), times like these can make you feel even more fragile than usual. I’ve been feeling particularly vulnerable this weekend, as I write this post. I’m extra gentle with myself at times like this; I tell myself it will pass. And I remind myself that I have a lot to be grateful for.

Here is my gratitude list:

A cozy, comfortable, safe home

Access to safe, clean water and good, healthy food

Access to cellphone, Internet and cable TV

Access to amenities within a 10 to 20-minute walk from my home

Some work coming in

I’m well, as are my family, chosen family and friends

I have supportive family, chosen family and friends—so I’m in solitude, but not alone

We have a great combined, cooperative federal, provincial and municipal effort on COVID-19 and its impacts

Time for art projects, reading, reflection, playing Scrabble against myself, doing online word search puzzles

My beautiful, playful four-legged friend Camille (cat) to keep me company

Ability to take daily walks, with pedometer to count my steps

Access to stories on Netflix, TV, movie collection, books, Internet, social media, online performances

Being able to see beauty and kindness in the world during these uncertain, heartbreaking times

A neighbour and I helping each other out with groceries, errands, laundry change

It’s a good, insightful exercise: reflections on gratitude. Give it a try and see for yourself.

The list of lasts

The following is my list of lasts from the Before Time (pre-COVID-19)—the last time I ventured outside my neighbourhood on transit and had in-person contact with other people. It really sums up the people, places and things I love—and really miss.

Last time I saw my parents: November 3, 2019 at the Elm Hurst Inn (Ingersoll), for our extended family pre-holiday brunch (they headed to Arizona that week and returned home in March)

Last time I saw my sister, brothers, sisters-in-law and nephews: December 26 at my sister’s house for our annual Boxing Day feast (brother-in-law was in New Zealand; saw him last at Elm Hurst Inn brunch)

Last time I saw a close friend: Dee, on March 11 at Presse Café at Bloor/Yonge

Last hug: March 11 (see last time I saw a close friend—we totally forgot to do the elbow bump)

Last time riding TTC: March 11 (see last time I saw a close friend)

Last reading I saw: March 6, Studio 180 Theatre’s The Cane at Buddies in Bad Times

Last brunch: March 7, with friends Brenda and Kerri at 7 West Café

Last play I saw: March 7, ARC’s OIL at Geary Lane

Last thrift shopping: March 4, with my friend Lizzie in the Bloor/Lansdowne area, finishing at Value Village

Last dinner out: February 27, in the Distillery at Mill St. Brew Pub with my friend Myriam, before seeing Lucid Ludic/Why Not Theatre’s Brain Storm at Dancemakers Studio

Last hair cut: February 25 at Top Cuts, with Rhonda at Avenue/Lawrence

Last art show I saw: February 23, Winter Stations at Woodbine Beach

Last gathering: February 22, friend Zoltan’s birthday party at his/Lizzie’s place

Last movie I saw: February 17, Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the Varsity

When was the last time you saw loved ones in person? The last hug you gave/received? The last movie you saw at a movie theatre?

p.s. Since I wrote this post and scheduled it for publishing, the Government of Ontario announced that Toronto and Peel will be heading into stage 2 today (Wed, June 24). Now, as we’re gradually able to be together again—still following public health measures—we can finally look forward to some firsts.

50 things I’ve learned

cathy - btw book alt photo
Me at my fourth or fifth birthday.

I was inspired by Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito’s list of 65 things he’s learned to create one of my own milestone lists. In no particular order:

  1.  It’s better to give. – Zoie Palmer reminded me of this in a tweet she posted today
  2.  People who talk to you about others will also talk to others about you. – can’t recall the origin of this one
  3. Whenever you have the chance, go for a pee and drink water. – Brenda Sharpe reminded me of this during our office party yesterday
  4. Life can’t always be champagne and latkes. – Elisabeth G.
  5. Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. – originally thought this was Dr. Seuss, but it’s actually Bernard Baruch
  6. Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss that which insults your soul. – Walt Whitman
  7. When changing a baby boy’s diaper, get the front flap of the fresh diaper in place ASAP.
  8. You can learn a lot about someone – and yourself – by how they/you untangle a mess of Christmas tree lights.
  9. Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. – British army wisdom (shared by Stephanie Bitten)
  10. If you don’t act crazy, you’ll go crazy. – Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (played by Alan Alda) from the TV show M*A*S*H
  11.  Silence speaks volumes.
  12. Don’t forget to breathe.
  13. In any conversation, listening is extremely important – even more so than speaking.
  14. It’s not a good idea to proofread your own writing.
  15. Always take note of the source of any praise, criticism or information that comes your way; not all sources are reliable, truthful or without agenda.
  16. People are the strangest animals I’ve ever seen.
  17. Trying to organize a group of lively, smart, creative people is like herding cats.
  18. You are what you say you are.
  19. You are not your job.
  20. If someone’s bullying or mistreating you, chances are they were/are bullied/mistreated themselves.
  21. Art is vital to a good quality of life.
  22. Smiling makes you feel better.
  23. Laughing makes you feel even better than smiling.
  24. When shaving your legs, it’s best to not go above the knee.
  25. People, even those you love, will disappoint you. They will also surprise you, in a good way.
  26. Faint heart never won fair maiden.– Elisabeth G., while perhaps not the originator of this quote, reminds me of this always
  27. Better to try and fail than regret not trying.
  28. ‘ Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
  29. Be as good a friend to yourself as your good friends are to you.
  30. Lovers may come and go, but good friends – your chosen family – are for keeps.
  31. Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones that you’re afraid.
  32. Besides death and taxes, the only thing you can count on is that things will change.
  33. This too shall pass. This goes for the good as well as the bad.
  34.  Sometimes, something that initially appears to be a negative can turn out to be a positive.
  35. The body is sexy, but the brain is sexier.
  36. Having a pet to come home to is a truly wonderful thing, especially if you live alone.
  37.  Dark chocolate really does have healing powers.
  38.  So does red wine.
  39. You can never get too many hugs. Same goes for giving hugs.
  40. Having a positive attitude in the day-to-day goes a long way toward staying positive when times get rough.
  41. You and your doctor are partners in the maintenance of your health and well-being.
  42. Finding joy in simple, everyday moments is a really good thing.
  43. When experiencing a conflict with someone, it can be helpful to examine what you have in common.
  44. Be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best – but don’t dwell on it too much.
  45. Don’t pass up the chance to say “I love you.”
  46. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.
  47. When it comes to romance, it’s better to be alone than in a bad relationship.
  48. Make sure to have music in your life.
  49. Be kind to the world and all its creatures, including you.
  50. Be the best version of yourself that you can be.