As Thanksgiving approaches, there doesn’t seem like much to be thankful for this year with ‘Winter is Coming’ fuel shortages, war, pestilence, inflation, climate change and all the other stuff we are worried about. Take self-centered me, for example – my newish bikini razor broke and I couldn’t find the receipt. I took out all my receipts and had a mini meltdown. All the numbers on the receipts blurred and I became panicked – about something that cost less than $20. I really struggled to find my sensible head but wonky head was in control. As always, I calmed down eventually, but I was shaken. The unimportant broken razor was just the catalyst for how I am feeling.
I am not alone but my worries are ridiculous and magnified by my mental illness. The city of Kherson in Ukraine has just been liberated from the Russians who destroyed all their infrastructure as they left. Yet, the residents were smiling and thankful. Perspective always helps to settle my mind so I make sure I read the world news every day. My aunt in Ireland told me that the government has asked local authorities, businesses and households to ration energy use and Christmas lighting displays.
Inflation makes us anxious in the US but it is running at around 85% in Turkey. It’s a post pandemic global issue and the US is about average compared to other first world countries. I just received a check from the UK for £1000 – once converted, it was only $1000. That’s never happened! The fact that I was fortunate enough to receive a check for $1000 should have made me thankful… As a child I was so happy to receive a $20 note in a birthday card from aunts in the USA. The concept of money was beyond me but I remember the excitement of going to the Rutherglen Post Office to change it into UK pounds.
Last week I wrote a draft post about having chronic fatigue but then the clocks changed back and I am not tired all the time. Two weeks ago, I could not walk around our circular street without being exhausted. We had Covid in the summer so perhaps that’s part of it. The ugly truth is that it is nearly always my aggravating mental ill health that causes or exacerbates my other physical complaints. It has been a stressful health year for us but nothing out of the ordinary for older people. Maybe ageing is stressful?
Twitter might be bankrupt soon and Meta, aka Facebook, is failing. Have we finally realized that social media is a potentially toxic entity, especially when managed by ethically dubious people? I have usually lived in small communities and when I heard a tantalizing piece of gossip, there was that initial thrill. Then I assessed it and hopefully made a sensible decision about repeating it. In a perfect world, I would not have repeated it but I am human! Is there anything more fun than sharing a juicy titbit with a friend over coffee? These days, there is less ‘wife swapping’, and more ‘he is in a wheelchair now’ tales. There is a difference between salacious gossip and keeping a community connected.
Most of us are now personally affected by climate change. This summer was just too hot and I struggled. It affected my mood being unable to go out for a walk because of the heat or dangerous UV radiation. Some of my neighbors got up at 7 am to take their dogs out but I just couldn’t manage that. Last week winter arrived and it was 40 F today but it was 82 F yesterday. That’s a huge change for big critters and little ones. Teddy and I talk aimlessly about living somewhere more temperate but remember how much we disliked the cold in northern Europe. Nowhere is perfect.
I remember bitterly cold nights in Scotland, as a child. Window panes frozen with delicate patterns. On the worst nights every blanket or eiderdown was used on the beds – with winter coats atop. Back then, I didn’t have such an aversion to cold. We had very old flannel sheets that we used in the winter. They were darned, as mine are now. Electric blankets weren’t commonplace so we put rubber hot water bottles in the beds, moving them from the middle to the bottom before slipping into bed. Heaven! My flannel sheets are so old that they feel a bit rough on your skin – maybe I could sell them as a body exfoliation product? This summer, I bought expensive new flannel sheets on sale. Once you go ‘Lands End’ you can’t go back…
Last week, I told the pharmacist that I was going to kill my husband and I think she believed me. We finally switched to Affordable Health Care aka Obama Care from our work sponsored medical insurance. Teddy spent months planning it so the transition would be smooth. My bill for cheap, generic medication was $92. What the heck? The insurance wasn’t working because I had the wrong birthdate on the policy. We assume that it was a Scottish accent problem… The worried pharmacist did a magic trick with coupons and reduced the bill to $13. Teddy was working at the wolf sanctuary so I didn’t want to call him in case he had another cardiac event.
Then I called healthcare.gov (pause for a joint sigh of despair) but it was okay. I had to swear on my first-born cat’s life that I was not committing a felony and sold my soul to somebody. It will take a few weeks for it to be sorted and it was not the end of the world. So, with that in mind, this is what am I thankful for –
- I have healthcare of any type
- There is enough money for food
- We can heat or cool the house
- My illness is manageable
- I live in a democracy
- Thrift shops are my happy place
- Loving friends and family
- There is a roof over my head
Let’s keep our wishes simple, our gratitude real and be generous with time or money for those who have less than us. That can be rescued wolves or homeless people. If you don’t feel good or need help, share it with someone you trust. It’s not necessary or normal to be happy all the time. Keep some perspective about real world problems. Be kind to as many species as possible. Mother Earth will thank you!