Evolving

No filter, no makeup, just Kerry

Until I moved to the USA, I had no idea that some people did not believe in the concept of evolution.  Charles Darwin and some brave predecessors deciphered the basic tenets of evolution despite wide dissent.  His book ‘On the Origin of Species’ was a masterpiece although undoubtedly flawed.  As more fossils of every species are uncovered our knowledge changes and develops. The virus Covid-19 is a master of change, evolution and mutation.  The sadness of a pandemic is that we are all affected – two members of my family have died from Covid-19.  One was 22 years old.

With intolerable mass shootings in the States and rising violence throughout the world, one can see that the effects of the Pandemic ripple out.  A tsunami is barely noticeable at sea until it hits the shore with devastating results.  Not everything about ‘now’ is negative.  Most of us have stopped and smelled the flowers.  Our gardens or plant pots are better cared for than they ever were.  Our pets and garden animals are subject to our endless gazes or affection.

Quarantine started at a pivotal time in my life.  Last year I turned 60 years old; officially becoming a senior. My husband is retiring this month and our lives will turn a new corner.  I doubt I would have paid much attention to sexagenarian status without the Pandemic.  In my denial, there would have been endless fashion posts, new makeup and exciting hair colors.  Instead, we all slumped into loungewear and natural skin.  At first that felt great but now it is boring yet comfortable.

I have a mild form of body dysmorphia and rarely see the truth in the mirror.  Curiously, when I was obese, I thought I looked fine and now I always want to be slimmer/younger/prettier.  I am not alone, supermodel Pauline Porizkova recently stated that she was somewhere between Jennifer Lopez and Betty White; referencing the invisibility that older women feel.  What is wrong with ageing?  It should be something we aspire to but modern society is consumed by the idea of eternal youth.

It doesn’t help that this last year has made most of us look a little older; the stress shows in our furrowed brows.  A smile would change our visage but it is masked.  Now we look out for crinkling around the eyes to see that someone is smiling at us.  In this new thoughtful phase of my personal evolution, I am beginning to accept that I am an attractive older woman.  Young men won’t whistle anymore but I get appreciative glances from older men who also feel sad about ageing.  My mother was a beautiful woman who aged gracefully.  A neighbor once made the cruelest comment to me referencing my mother, “Isn’t it sad when beautiful women age?”

My personal evolution is deeper than that.  I mentioned in the previous post, Change is Inevitable, that I didn’t like what I saw behind my eyes.  If you asked a friend to describe me, the words kind and funny might be said.  During self reflection during sequestration the following words seemed more apt.  Impatient, testy, judgmental, insular, anti-social, fussy, undeviating and unkind.  Was I a good manager or am I inflexible?  Am I a good friend or wife?  Not always.  I could blame my mental illness for some negative elements of my personality but that is disingenuous.  In my life, I have met so many mentally ill people who were adorable, the opposite or somewhere betwixt.

Prior to the pandemic, I worked, volunteered and was social.  When we first moved overseas, I made a huge effort to be social and get involved with my community.  This continued with the move to Texas but it is not my natural self.  I struggle with small talk, coffee mornings or girl’s nights out.  WordPress has been a source of comfort for me to meet like-minded people.  Quarantine gave me the perfect excuse to retreat to my nest with my bonded mate and I know how lucky we are.  So, what is the outcome of this reflection?  I am going to try to be a better person to everyone I know.  My base personality will remain the same but I can be thoughtful, gentler, compassionate and sweeter.  My evolution has not finished and wouldn’t life be dull if it did?

This is a Pizzly Bear (courtesy of BBC)

Climate change is affecting all species, in particular the Polar Bear. As the world warms, Grizzly Bears are moving further north and interacting with Polar Bears. In a wonderful turn of events, they are interbreeding and their hybrid cubs are fertile. They are the same species but one is brown and the other white. All of homo sapiens were brown before the diaspora from Africa. Those who went furthest north developed fair skin, over generations, to allow their skin to access essential Vitamin D from the weaker sun’s rays. You could describe this as a mutation or evolution. I identify with the Pizzly Bear, we are both of mixed race, have wrinkles and we are BEAUTIFUL!

Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable… but it can fill us with trepidation. When I researched this post, I was astonished at how many ‘change is inevitable’ quotations there are from Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘Change is inevitable. Change is constant.’ to more prosaic.  Sometimes people long for change, as we did before we moved to Egypt. That move was less fearful, although more challenging, than the next to Texas. We could not have predicted that the second Gulf war would have started 4 months after our arrival in Cairo nor could we have anticipated so many extreme weather events in Texas. The recent deep freeze was just the ‘icing’ on the cake. Do you see what I did there? Teddy is tired of my silly, pun filled humor after a year sequestered together…

I am leading up to the elephant in the room – the biggest change in modern history and most of us didn’t see it coming. Dare I even mention the pandemic or are we all sick of it? Not only have we dealt with unexpected change personally but also in society. Some cultures and nations have dealt with it more graciously and effectively than others. I am not a fan of Sweden’s current laissez faire approach to Covid-19 but perhaps not unexpected given their history of forced sterilization of mentally disabled/unwell, Roma (and other people deemed anti-social) from 1906 to 1975. Something similar happened in Canada to the indigenous. We all know how despicable the USA can be – need I list our many egregious acts? I dare not cast any stones. None of us truly know what was or is the best course of action for this pandemic, nor will we for years. Life will not go back to what it was but will evolve into something different, perhaps better or worse. This year has given us plenty of time to think and reflect – a scary prospect for many of us. I rarely look in a mirror for long because I don’t like what I see both superficially and behind my eyes.

Since my second vaccination there has been a calming within me. I am fully aware that there could be a Covid mutation lurking but I am less panicked about getting seriously ill. The truth is that I am always unwell and that’s why I take daily medication. I have looked at my behavior and actions this year – my mental illness is real, quantifiable and more debilitating than I thought. Strangely, it is a relief to finally accept the truth. No magic pill or treatment awaits me. It is not normal to go to bed at 6 pm, fall asleep about 9.30 pm and then not rise until 11 am. I am not always fully asleep but I am hiding under the covers or reading. Yesterday I did something I had been putting off for weeks. We called an air conditioning firm, got quotations and we are having a completely new HVAC system installed.

I wanted it done quickly but was totally overwhelmed by the speed and cost although I had thoroughly researched it (for years). I went to bed even earlier, chewed my mouth until it hurt and didn’t get up until midday. After they finish the installation, I will be even more anxious, in physical pain from tensing my body and will probably drink some unnecessary wine. I still haven’t learned to pace myself either because as soon as the charming chatty estimator left, I went to two garden centers to replace the dead plants in our yard. In the last year there has been significant building on the farmland and forest around our township.  Roads that were once quiet are frenetic.  You are either stuck behind a very sporty Audi driven by some old dude at 30 mph or some eejit in a truck who is weaving at high speed. The tension was rising in my addled brain and when I could barely find a parking space at either garden center, I just retreated to the safety of our home. That wiped me out.

I felt so frustrated – where is the person who trekked across Belize, Mexico and Malaysia solo? Perhaps this is how a caged animal feels when you open the door?  Objectively, I know that time is a great healer and practice will make driving feel less frightening.  Much of my working life was spent soothing clients in distress, from mentally ill people and passengers at the airport.  Sometimes they were both!  The inability to interact with people in a meaningful way inevitably leads to self-absorbed thinking.  We are unable to use perspective without seeing normal societal encounters as a gauge.  Therapy is an ideal option for some but not for me.  I hope this is not seen as a negative post as I would prefer it to be revelatory.  Positivity is a wonderful trait if it is genuine but you can’t force it.  Over the last year I have felt ridiculously happy at times, sometimes anguished and now thoughtful.  Then there is all the guilt about the people who are struggling much more but that’s another post.

This is part one of an essay about Change and Evolution.

The Silver Tongued Irishman and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Irish vistaI really need to finish my Tampa blogs but I thought I would amuse you with this tale. The Irishman in question, let’s call him Patrick, worked for my husband about 15 or more years ago. We met for the first time at a company function. Teddy was sitting at one side of me and introduced me to Patrick, who was quite the flirt. We exchanged funny stories about Ireland and I think he was quite enchanted by an Irish/Hispanic lady. I choked on my vodka and coke when he said, seductively and in Teddy’s earshot, “I shouldn’t sit so close to you because I am so fertile”. I fell off my seat laughing at his daring and because he didn’t know that I couldn’t have children because of infertility. Teddy looked a little shocked but started laughing too.

My favorite Patrick story (apart from the one above) is about the town he came from in County Galway. To set the scene, it had become a tourist and artist haven because it’s natural beauty. Many artists, from all around Europe and America, had moved there. Despite the fact that Ireland is a Catholic country, various missionaries had been trying to wedge a niche in the congregation. I doubt that many of them were successful as even the Catholic Church is treated with both reverence and skepticism in Ireland. But still they tried…

On this occasion, Jehovah’s Witnesses had gone to one little cottage in the town. An older woman opened the door to two smart young men. Their opening gambit was, “Do you know Jesus?” To their astonishment, the lady said (remember this is an Irish accent), “Surely, yes. If you just go to the top of the hill his cottage is on the right”. Unbeknown to the shocked missionaries, a Spanish artist had moved into the town and was called, wait for it, JESUS! The local population had no idea that it is pronounced ‘Hayzuus’ in Espanol. Ah, I love that story. 😇

As most of you know, Teddy is a rather accomplished geologist. This means that he has to believe in evolution … even here in Texas. We have fossils and minerals all over the bloody house and if you let him, he will tell which eon they come from, blah, blah, blah. We lived for years in a very remote agricultural area in the North East of Scotland. Almost everyone was some type of Protestant, some of them weird sects. They even have dry fishing boats from the major ports to accommodate some of the restrictive religions. One cold night, the door bell rung and there were two Jehovah’s Witnesses. We were astonished to see them so far out – they may as well have been in darkest Africa. Teddy invited them in and started teaching them about evolution which directly opposed the teachings of their church. By the time he had the fossils out, you could see that the younger man was becoming convinced of Darwinism. The older one took control and they left rather hastily. As soon as they did we howled with laughter and still wait patiently in Texas for some poor soul to come by the house of Satan. 😈 ☘