Dear All

The weirdest thing happened today. I was informed that the layout, the theme that I was using for the blog was retired and I was advised to try finding a new one. There are many things that are more fun than customizing a theme. I have ideas, many of them, but not everything is feasible. And of course, I have no real idea what I am doing and use preset stuff that I adapt to my needs. I chose a couple of themes this afternoon and then I thought that I had found the one and –  I noticed that it had no sidebar. I need the sidebar though (or I want it…) After almost an hour, I was back at square one and now, I settled on this one. I am not sure if something is off, or if it is me, and I only need to get used to it.

So… this is the first post for the new layout. How does it feel for you? Is it too light, too dark? How about the font? It looks small on the laptop but good on mobile. I added a couple of features in the sidebar. Too much? The names of the different categories were slightly altered too. Did you notice or is it subtle?

Feedback would be nice, but not required 🙂

Next post will be the song of the day.

Take good care of yourselves.

After the night comes a new morning.

It’s close to midnight. I just took out the trash from the kitchen to put it in the bins outside. I intended to get ready for bed soon. But I got held up.

It is quiet outside, and cold. Freezing. The air smells like snow, and the wind is picking up. There were storm warnings on the news, but everything was calm until now. The trees are waving in the wind; it is the only sound I can make out—just the wind jostling the trees.

These days, I don’t like going outside during the day. I go for walks at night, when I am sure not to cross anyone. When I am in the garden, I go inside when I hear the neighbour’s voices. And, honestly, I am content in my bubble. I wonder if I am slowly turning into an agoraphobic person.

I don’t miss people. I don’t miss socialising because I get my fix of people online, without having to face them or having to speak to them – and let’s not forget, I (37) have three kids (15, 11, 9) and a husband (42) at home.

What gets to me most is that I am never alone. There is not a moment when I can be completely alone without anyone around. We are living in a house, with three floors. But it is quite open, and some walls are still bare. If you are watching a movie on floor 3, you can hear the dialogue on floor 1. (Same with phone calls and all that).***

Always having someone close, that’s draining for me. And I am living with people who I actually like. Still, it gets suffocating.

So here I am, leaning against the front door’s frame, feeling the cold wind on my face, breathing. Breathing in. Breathing out. Smiling. Breathing in. Breathing out.

For now, I am okay—ups and downs; the usual. I am busy writing; for work, for me, for others… I am listening to lots of music, old and new. I am even discovering new skills in the kitchen – and I was already quite talented there…

Another three weeks of lockdown are ahead of us in Luxembourg. Covid-19 cases are still on the rise, and people are dying every day from complications associated with the virus. Three more weeks of homeschooling and being mindful and grateful. I am a lucky woman. Nothing will ever be the same.

It’s after midnight, and I close the front door. Rain is beginning to fall. The trees are still dancing in the wind, casting shadows under orange streetlights.

Tomorrow is a new day, and we are still here, still sane and safe and healthy.

Goodnight.

*** you enter the house on floor three. There is a small open space used as an office (by my husband, Patrick), a bathroom with a bathtub, and two bedrooms. The master bedroom and my son’s room. Going down to floor two. Here we have my daughters’ bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower, a technical room, and my book/CD shelves are here too. Going down to floor one. Here is an open space living room, dining area, and kitchen with access to the patio and the garden. There is also a half bath and something we call basement (with the washing machine, dryer, freezer, many tools…) Our house is rather small, even if it sounds big. It gets cramped to live here as a family of 5. We are living on 139m2 (which equals 1500 sq ft). There is no garage, no attic, no basement. I love our home, though. We had this house built for us and moved in December 2017. It’s the first house that feels like a real home. I will grow old here. And that’s a happy thought.

With or without lyrics

Depending on my mood and mind, I listen to music with or without lyrics. Not long ago, someone said to me that they disregard lyrics when listening to music, but they also don’t like to listen to instrumental music – not postrock, not ambient, not classic. They listen to mainstream music and are touched too, but on a completely different level than I am.

I listen to instrumental music to write, and the tone of the music, the melody, the tempo, the intensity, they guide my words and writing.

I also listen to a lot of other music – I am not limited to a particular genre, though I have favourites too. If there are lyrics, they have to be powerful and inspire stories or poems in my head. It doesn’t matter which genre it is.

Is it because I am a writer that I think lyrics matter? Is it because I am a writer that I admire music without lyrics?

I try keeping an open mind when it comes to music and genres. Not everything is for me, and I am quite picky and peculiar. I know what I like and what I don’t like. For me, music needs to touch something in me. It needs to make me feel, and it doesn’t matter if other listeners like it; for me, it is a subjective experience.

Not long ago, I was asked to write a review for an album that was released yesterday. ‘Are you in love?’ by Basia Bulat. It was published on a blog called ‘At the Barrier’. I felt humbled and proud that the creator of that site offered me to write about music. And apparently, I am not all that bad because he got in touch again and sent new music to review. It feels surreal, but maybe I was made to do this, it comes naturally to me, and there is always this melody or that lyric, this tune or that progression that I like or can imagine other listeners to like.

There are days when I am like music without lyrics. Intense but raw and real, overwhelming too. On other days I am like music with lyrics. Chatty, bubbly, always real, but a bit shallow.

Some people say that there is no good new music. I say: there is a lot of talent, often enough it is hidden and not what mainstream charts suggest. But if you stay curious and open-minded, you can find beautiful music and talented artists that touch you on every corner.

Music is a passion, and I understand that others don’t share it, but for me, music is like a life’s breath. I need it to exist. It saved me more than once, and it keeps me sane.

Here I am, a 37-year-old woman. Mother, wife, educator, writer, poet, lover, and I admit that music is what keeps me alive.

What is your biggest passion?

Didn’t she ramble?!

This blog-thing here is very selfish and egocentric. It is about my thoughts, my stream of consciousness, my options, my opinions. Me.

I am not qualified for many things. I don’t know much about music or mental health. I know about education and pedagogy. I know about raising kids and living on a tight but not too tight budget. I know about childhood trauma and divorced parents. I know about unrequited love and self-harm. I know a lot, but I am not an expert on many things.

I haven’t seen anyone who doesn’t live with me since Friday 13th. I haven’t spoken to many people either. But I have been continuously texting. I am online – all the time, and I am checking the news a lot too. 1333 confirmed infections today, 234 more than yesterday. In a country with approximately 620k inhabitants, this is a lot. And weirdly enough, I don’t know anyone who caught the virus. It’s odd, or maybe it just shows that I am a recluse most of the time anyway.

I am very active online these days, sharing a lot – mostly music related content or trivial things. Even on FB, that I keep for family and my close friends, I took part in challenges I would have ignored during other times.

I don’t know if this is healthy, I doubt it. But I am also grateful for all the amazing people who are interacting with me. Some of these people have been on my periphery for a while, but only ever at a distance, and now they are getting closer. Is it because I am willing to let them closer? I don’t know.

I don’t have cabin fever; at the same time, I am not in my best mood. Is it because I ate too many carbs after not having had any for weeks? Is it my natural female cycle?

It is a fact that I am busier now than I was before the lockdown. I am more present and as weird as it sounds (or as bad as it makes me look) I am making time – and finding time for things I used to ignore. Working out (I am proud about it, even if it is only 5 to 10 minutes a day) cleaning the kitchen daily, drinking enough tea and water, spending conscious time with the kids and saying ‘no’ when they ask to watch TV (instead we play board games or play silly games outside on the garden – it was never important for me to spend time outside with my daughters – now it is).

The Covid-19 virus is a moment to reset our lives, and I think I am doing a good job. I am focusing on the important things, and I am taking care of the people who matter to me, by getting in touch with them regularly – it is their choice if they respond or not – you can almost read the disappointment on the screen, my blood-related family does not care, once again.

I feel connected to people, and even though I am not too well (mentally), it makes a lot of sense. I am not alone, and for once, I understand this, and I feel it too. There is a lot of bad happening right now, but somehow, there is a lot of beauty in this situation too.

I want to thank you. You matter. ❤

Support the arts…

During these difficult times, lots of people are losing their careers and their livelihood. Musicians and artists too. If you can, support your favourite artist. Some are putting out A Song A Day.

Many incredible musicians are doing this, but I want to single out someone special. Tom Morris. He put his first song on Soundcloud today, and what can I say?! It is a brilliant song. Tom records his songs in under an hour. It is audible, but even in this raw state, this reached me right where it is important to be touched. The lyrics are very relevant, and again, I can relate. Now, if you follow this blog-thing, you know about Tom Morris and how much I like that guy. He is talented. A beautiful mind and soul. He is one of us – and I can never repay him for the impact he had on my life with a simple hug.

If you have a moment to spare, please, support Tom on Patreon. (I have a certain sum of money set aside each month that I use to support artists on Patreon or to buy music and books, it is the only luxury I allow myself these days.)

Follow these guys:

Tom Elliott Morris

David Oakes

Matthew Ryan

Ari Gudmundsson

These are just 4 musicians who make very different kinds of music. They are all on Bandcamp, and they also share their music on Twitter. (The above are Twitter-Links)

Music is very important in times like these; for me, it is – as you may have noticed these last days.

I don’t have much to say anymore. My poetry muse left me a while ago, and all I do is rambling. I believe that we change all the time. I never intended this blog to turn into a diary kind of thing, but in times when my voice is silent, and I can’t speak, I found that writing eases my tensions, and it turns my thoughts into words on a screen.

Let’s keep evolving.

Today was another less great day. The pain in my shoulder is back full-force.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

Good night,

Cathy

Isolation

things changed in my life – a list:

  1. I made room for routines (getting up at the same time each day)
  2. I have been working out every day – yoga, squats, planks, jumping jacks…
  3. I have been eating healthier (since March 1st… it was a challenge)
  4. less alcohol (part of that challenge)
  5. I made time for music
  6. I began making my own bread (there is one in the oven now)
  7. I discovered overnight oats (they are delicious)
  8. away from the usual responsibilities at work and driving the kids around from here to there, I feel more relaxed
  9. watching less TV (yes, you read that right – less!)
  10. drinking lots of tea and water
  11. I enjoy homeschooling my kids and like spending time with them a lot. (I added this one because I am growing very tired of all the memes of parents being overwhelmed with their kids and only coping with alcohol. Parents who actually spend time with their kids and raised them well will enjoy this time  – it is an exceptional time, and the kids will never forget it, we should make it count.)

 

Sure, these don’t sound like life-altering things, but for me, they are. In my line of work, getting up every day at the same time is impossible, because of the shifts we work. Some days I need to get up early, and other days I can lie in… Right now, I have the luxury of sleeping longer than usual, but not being lazy either. I have breakfast every day at the same time, I work out every day at the same time… (with the kids, during their homeschooling break). Routines are nice.

 

Anyway, my bread is done, it looks and smells delicious….

Thank you for your support and your friendship, and at the recommendation of gigglingfattie, I will accept the challenge and write for the AtoZ Challenge in April. I want to step away from my comfort zone a little more often.

 

Thank you. 🙂

Done

I am feeling… Weird. I finished the second draft and the 100th revision of my novel.

I should be happy, and I am. But I feel empty too. I spent a lot of time with the characters in this book. And what if I am not done? What if I should change this or that? What if I am driving myself crazy?

The very first draft of this story was written in 2014. I have been toying with these characters since then. I let them go for a while, and I picked them up again. I worked on the story, and I let it go again. But I always knew that the story is good and the characters are too. And now, after a week of intensive editing and rewriting, there is nothing left to do. I checked and revised, read the story, but there is nothing I could and would change right now.

I have an ISBN for a print version… All I need to do now is loading it up to Amazon. But I wonder… Is now the time to publish a romance novel about a same-sex couple? And before you ask, yes, there is a niche, and yes, stories like these are read.

I feel insecure about this book, to be honest. It is different than publishing poetry.

But overall, I am happy.

I did it. I finished my novel. 😁

draft_20200318

And as I am lying in my bed, I am listening to the world. It is quiet outside. There’s a plane taking off. My neighbors are doing the opposite of social distancing (again). A dog is barking somewhere, and I can hear other animals and insects. Nature is waking up. Not only animals are back, but allergies are also beginning – I am sneezing a lot, but once I take antihistamines I am better.

What will happen to us? I am honest, I am afraid to catch the virus, yet I am not. I am not at risk right now; I was not in touch with other people in a week – apart from the ones I am living with, and yet. If statistics say that 70% of the Luxembourgish population will be infected with COVID-19, then I will surely have it too, sooner or later.

I believe that it is good that we are forced to slow down. It is good for me and my mental health. At the same time, I am not sure how I will cope if this goes on for longer. I am just not sure how it will affect my mind. And there is no way of knowing. I was in a good place for most of the past week, with today being an exception. I woke up in a bad mood, and it didn’t really improve during the day. Sure, I got a lot done, and I had fun chats with online friends, but something irked me. And I have a suspicion what it was: there is no room in my house where I can be alone and on my own – apart from the bathrooms. Our home is not large, but it is not small either, and yet, I cannot go somewhere and close the door to be alone. The constant presence, the usual noises, the chatter, it is exhausting. Even if it comes from people I love. And I love my kids with all my heart. They are amazing in this situation, and I am grateful that they are at an age where we can discuss things, and they understand.

With the weather being nice, the girls are in our garden a lot. But even when they are outside, they get in to get this or that (cardigans, shoes, toys…); I am never on my own. It’s hard for me. There is no moment during the day when I can stop thinking and rest. I need to be attentive and responsible at all times. And it gives me migraines. I wish I were kidding, but I am not.

In a typical week, when the girls aren’t homeschooled, when my son goes to high school, and my husband drives to work, I sleep a lot. I sleep in on Mondays and Thursdays because those are the days when I only start working at noon (or later). I take long baths, and I allow myself to be lazy. There is no harm done because I am alone at home, and no one sees me.

During this almost complete lockdown, the kids have schedules and homework – all three of them, my husband works from home, and I am partly supervising the kids, partly editing my novel (10 more pages to go on the second draft), and I promised to get things done for work. I get up every day at 7:30 (I know that it is late, but as I said, I have the luxury of sleeping in many days). I have breakfast with the girls every day, and I turn my laptop on by 9 am. I am trying to be focussed for an hour; the girls are supposed to do the same. At 10 am, we take a break and go outside. There, we do a bit of yoga and other exercises. I want the kids to move and take deep breaths on their 15minute break. After that, we go back inside, hydrate, and get back to work…

I am embarrassed to say this, but the muscles in my legs are so sore, I have trouble climbing stairs. Why? Because we did 20 squats yesterday. It seems I did them right. And we all know that I am really out of shape and overweight. But, I am working on it—little by little.

Times are filled with uncertainty. No one knows what will happen and how this pandemic will keep dictating our lives. Maybe that is the hardest part. We just don’t know.

Stay home. Stay safe…

(This post should he called whining on a high level)

8:02

Every day, for years, I take a look at my watch (or any other available clock) at 8:02. In the morning, in the evening. It is very weird. Even more so because I am born on February 8th, and we write dates in this format: 08.02.1983

If I only knew what this means… Is it coincidence or a sign? Every single day!

It’s 8:06 now. It took me 3 minutes to write this post. 😂🙈

Crazy Wednesday Evening Randomness

I miss intimacy and someone who cares. I wonder why it is so hard for me to say this and for others to see? I am an open book, after all.

When my son told me about that friend taking his own life by throwing himself off a bridge, I was struggling. No, I was not affected by the loss of that child, I didn’t know the boy or his family, and yet, it got to me. It is part of my condition. I suffer internally when bad things happen.

It scares me. It scares me because sometimes I wonder if I could delete myself as easily as my Facebook account. I have lost track of how many times I deactivated that site. This time, I am going for deletion. There is nothing and no one who keeps me there, which is a lie – on my part. There are exactly three people who make me want to continue using Messenger. But, I am tired. I am tired of feeling ignored or neglected or abandoned. Even if I am not – it is my subjective emotion. People close to me, those who pay attention know that I have been raised in a way that I was ignored a lot. Affection was withheld. So now, when my mind suggests that people are treating me in a similar manner, I shut down. A wall comes up. I become nearly obsessive; at the same time, I become angry. Do I really deserve that?

The answer is NO. And you who are my friends don’t deserve it either. I am selfish, bordering on narcissistic. And I am in very bad shape right now. I push people away, and I don’t want to participate in anything. I can’t deal with anyone asking for attention. I need to be my own centre of attention.

I have been triggered. For a little over a week (October 6th), I have been struggling with self-harming behaviour. I haven’t done anything. I even consciously drank less alcohol and ate less crap than I usually do. But I am scared that it will happen.

Isn’t it pathetic?! I can’t be alone, but I don’t want anybody near me right now.

Nothing makes sense, least of all me – least of all mental illness.
Thoughts in circles. Not here nor there.

I was in training today (about speech development in small children). When I drove there, I wondered about mental illness. It is everywhere these days. It is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing for me because finally, I came to realise that I am not alone. Many people feel as intensely as I do. Joy and sorrow. I have been struggling with depression since I was a teenager. Maybe even before. This illness was always a part of me, and for all I knew, I was insane. No one was as sad as me. No one was as moody as me. No one hurt themselves to feel… The internet took a lot of the shame and guilt I carried around and gave it an explanation and a reason. Of course, now I read about mental health and illness, and I am turning into a hypochondriac mess. Am I manic? Am I bipolar? I should have it checked out. When I spoke to a doctor about how I feel (not even two years ago), she said to me that I should take Vitamin D and that the winter would soon be over. I never mentioned it again. Although she prescribed me something to lighten the mood. It still didn’t feel right. To me, it felt as if I was not taken seriously. Not nice.

I need intimacy. A hug. A cuddle. Someone who runs his hand through my hair while my head listens to his heartbeat, and tells me that it will be okay.

Presence is not enough right now.

Cathy

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PS: I saw Joker tonight. No spoilers…

I hope my death makes more cents than my life. ~ Arthur Fleck