Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Coping in a troubled world

I spend most of Friday through Monday offline. That is now my work week and I get 40 hours in 4 days, 2 – 8 hour shifts and 2 – 12 hour shifts. I work as an advocate at a group home and it is all pretty much direct care. I never know from day to day what challenges I will face. This past weekend I was cleaning up projectile vomiting in one bathroom while also caring for the person who was sick. Later, a coworker was fixing a broken handle on a toilet which somehow morphed into a fountain, spurting water up. The night ended with another incident requiring an additional half hour of paperwork. But I was glad for the ordinary distractions. They grounded me and focused my attention on something other than what was happening in the world.

I was rather distressed after finally reading the “Fridays List” from Judy Clement Wall on her blog, Zebra Sounds. I had been too busy to read it until now. It was such a treat to read when I worked overnights. It was usually posted around 2am central time. It gave me something to look forward to on those long nights. Last Friday Judy posted this update:

I wrote most of this post yesterday before the earthquake and tsunamis hit Japan, but after what happened in Wisconsin and Texas and Libya. On Facebook, I posted a happy status this morning, the morning after giving birth to the story I’ve carried inside me for years (and some other good news I got yesterday). Within a few seconds, someone jumped on to remind me of the tsunamis and I felt unbelievably chastised. Unbelievably insensitive. I deleted my original comment, cried a little, and then put up this status, which is more thoughtful and more ambivalent (because my commenter was right… and wrong):

In this big world, on the same day, a baby gets born, an earthquake strikes, people fall in love, a government cheats, a book gets written, a revolution takes hold, funding finally comes… it’s hard to feel them all at once.

I was a little angry for her and if I had seen the comment I would have had her back and would most certainly had said something. We live in confusing times. There is so much turmoil, sorrow and pain. I think we need a little joy too, if only for balance. Judy had a right to her joy and damn the person who took that away from her.

I think we all need to find ways to cope with the increasingly stressful events that are occurring now. The internet is a blessing and a curse. Information is instantaneous and immediate. I was grateful to be at work over the weekend. If I had not, I would probably spent most of the day (and night) on the computer chasing the story. Instead, I cooked and cleaned and cared for the residents at the group home. Ordinary life still goes on no matter what is happening elsewhere in the world. And it is important to focus on it, sometimes even more so.

I was aware what was happening, but I could not read nor look at the videos that were saturating the internet. I usually get on Twitter after my shift to wind down from the stress of caregiving. But I knew that would not be wise. So instead, I played music. It was mainly to distract me from the stress at work and from the events in the world. I also hoped that it might be an alternative for some of my friends and might also provide distraction for them as well. I have seen tweets from several who are adversely affected by the catastrophic events in Japan.

I realize that some may criticize me as well for playing music. Some might think it is frivolous in light of all that is going on. But, it is my way of coping. I think it is healthy to look for the positive and good when things are looking so bad.

To my friends, and to anyone who might read this, life still goes on. In times of great stress sometimes it is best to focus on the ordinary things of life. The events of the world can be overwhelming. Focus on your routine and even on the distractions of those things that will give you pleasure. There are things that can be done to help those in need. If you are financially able, give. If not, just help to raise awareness.

I don't believe all hope is lost. I have to believe and have faith. I have also been praying a lot these past few days, but that is a comfort too. We cannot let this bring us down and overwhelm us. There is too much to do. We have to believe in the best of all of us to get through these troubled times.

As for me, I will continue to play music. If you care to listen I am Azsky13 on Twitter. You are welcome to come play with me.

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Anonymous j said...

Thank you for this, Mary. You and I are totally on the same page today. My post makes this point too (though not nearly as well).

"Ordinary life still goes on no matter what is happening elsewhere in the world. And it is important to focus on it, sometimes even more so."

Exactly. Much love to you (and your music which I hope you never stop playing.)

March 16, 2011 at 2:21 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

This is great, and you are right. I personally am very grateful for your music on Twitter, more so these days I think. It is nice to know that when the world feels so upside down and backwards, that our friends are there to remind us - we live, we have love, our lives continue whether we want them to or not, and we are so lucky right now to have the ordinary to focus on - to keep us grounded.
Thank you my friend! xoxo

March 16, 2011 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Judy and Caroline, I think we have something even more important as well, we have each other. When we are weak we can draw strength from each other. I consider myself most fortunate to have friends like you. Thank you both, for your comments and your friendship.
There will always be a crisis that will cause great fear. Heres hopeing there will always be friends to lift us up and help keep us strong.

March 16, 2011 at 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Julie Mangano said...

So many times we forget this simple truth: life goes on, despite the crises, pain, fear and other turmoil. We can't forget that we need a chance to experience the joy, regain our perspective, and decompress. I love listening to your songs, reading joyful blog posts like Judy's, finding ways to laugh, and connecting with friends. xoxo

March 16, 2011 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Angel said...

The world swirls and bubbles and each of us have our trials and our triumphs at the same time. We are each living in the moment--some of us sleeping, some working, some being born, some dying. Thanks for being here Mary.

March 16, 2011 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Sue Maden said...

This is one of those times when we are reminded that there are as many responses to tragedy as there are people to experience them. It's important to respectfully allow each person to experience a situation in his/her own way, without judgement. Your post is a prescious reminder of that. I'm so sorry that Judy was criticized for expressing her joy. We need to remember there were and are things to celebrate and there will be again.

March 16, 2011 at 2:55 PM  

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