JuggLearn

JuggLearn is the app that my son David and daughter Morgan are building. In the intro video, Morgan describes herself as a hobbyist juggler who has really enjoyed juggling for years and wants to “give back some of that goodness to the world.” Here’s a screen shot of Morgan from the intro video:

Morgan looks a lot like I did at her age and it’s a bit uncanny watching her on video at times.

The app isn’t released yet. I don’t know how many of us are accessing the videos; they’re looking for feedback on what is and isn’t working as we learn to juggle. Morgan wants to grow in her skills of coaching and educational design. David is always working on his app design skills and inventing new ways to make computers do what he wants.

The intro video said we’d be learning two patterns – cascade and…. another one. I can DO a three ball cascade but not with much reliability. I’d like to greatly improve that, and learn the second pattern. I should see how many catches I can get on a three ball cascade right now. I have some juggling balls I bought while visiting Morgan at a juggling festival once, hold on a second…

OK back! Thirty-nine catches! Where will I be at the end of this experiment?

Juggling: Summative Project

This “sprummer” term (as my University College calls it) I took a course called Introduction to Spirit and Community. Our final assignment reads as follows: “Learn a new athletic skill, keep a journal of your experience, and submit a 3-4 page theologically informed explanation of the project connecting it to Spirit and/or Community along with the journal.”

I’m learning juggling. I started earlier but have sort of noted things in my mind rather than journaling, as I have had other courses since and started a practicum etc, etc, in any case – I’ve been busy. I’m right now thinking “this is a journal entry so grammar is immaterial” so I’m just going to ramble without the governance of punctuation at times.

The to do item juggling post has been shifting from day to day for some time now. It makes me feel sad and guilty. So I’m just posting so I can scratch it off. I’ve already put it on tomorrow’s list; it isn’t gone forever.

I’m learning to juggle from videos recorded by and of my daughter who is using them in a ‘learn to juggle’ app she is creating cooperatively with my son. My daughter is (in my mind anyway) pretty well known in the juggling community. Learning or succeeding at a new juggling pattern lifts her spirit. Will I turn the focus of this assignment toward Spirit or Community? Spirit IN community? Community spirit? Time will tell. But not too much time because it’s due early August how did the summer suddenly get to be half over?

Fat or COVID?

It’s not the COVID, it’s the humidity

When I was recovering from COVID in April, I was keenly aware of my health. There’s no way to know for sure when you’re done having COVID, and the symptoms are so diverse.

Out of breath walking the dog – is it still active COVID? Are my lungs permanently scarred? Or am I just out of shape? I started thinking of these questions as “Fat or COVID”.

As April fades to memory, my dog walks are getting longer so either my lungs are healing or I’m getting into better shape. On days when I feel that asthmatic hitch and cough, I wonder again – is the COVID back? People can get sick more than once. Maybe it never did go away. I was so sick with it. I probably shouldn’t have been alone the whole time, there are gaps of time I don’t recall because I’d sort of collapse on the couch with exhaustion and low oxygen. My chest hurt more than it ever has with bronchitis. Every breath felt like I was 14 years old and trying smoking for the first time. I do not want to go through that again – and that was mild.

Some reasons I might feel breathless aside from succumbing to a novel and deadly virus: extreme humidity, seasonal allergies, anxiety, and exercising outside of my cardio capacity. Some more adult minded readers might come up with others but I am writing this in the pandemic and I live alone.

I have found it best to treat the breathlessness as if it has arisen from one of these more mundane causes. Drink water and find a cool place to be still. Take antihistamine and wait and see – COVID won’t respond to allergy pills. Take grounding breaths and centre myself to fight anxiety (and medicate if needed).

The combination of breathlessness and exhaustion for most of the month of April reminded me of how I feel the week after donating blood. Iron deficiency can cause both symptoms, and with the drastic change in my shopping habits, I only occasionally had meat in the house; rarely red meat. I don’t think we give enough credit to the influence our diet has on our day to day health, including mental health. Taking iron supplements once I twigged to the connection helped resolve some of the brain fog and weary breathlessness.

My exhaustion could be because I, along with literally everybody else, am living through the isolation and anxiety of a global pandemic. Going through a ‘normal’ day of completing tasks such as preparing and consuming food, bathing and dressing, walking the dog, and sweeping the floor is just very tiring right now. Personally I’ve added on top of that attempting a graduate degree term remotely over a novel delivery system, and commencing an internship placement where I cooperate with people I haven’t met over software I’ve never used. I am so tired, COVID notwithstanding. We all are I think.

My exhaustion could be mostly from recovering from a disease. I’m STILL healing. While the virus vacates the body in its two to three weeks, symptoms can continue for months. I still nap more days than not, and not planned naps but rather ‘my body is shutting down for a wee bit’ type naps. My lungs don’t function like they used to. Every once in a while my temperature goes up a degree and a bit and I worry; I cough and I worry.

The other day I had a novel symptom – the mottled discolouring of legs; my worried turned to alarm. How could I have a new symptom? The discolouring lasted for less than two hours – had I had this before but not noticed? Or…. is it back? Luckily, Ontario is finally letting anyone be tested for COVID. I got my result online within 48 hours.

It feels like a clean slate, a new starting point. No, I won’t be physically joining a protest. Yes, I will be wearing a mask if I need to enter a building. And I will continue to do so for the months that it will take for medical science to make the world feel safe again. Allergies and anxiety I can handle, but I never want to see COVID again.

Hugging Meditation

For those who live alone, with nary a human about, can you remember the last five people you touched? On March 12th, I went to see Hamilton in Toronto at Mirvish with my daughter. Things had not yet shut down; in fact, this turned out to be the second last performance of Hamilton in Toronto. We knew the virus was coming, but I wasn’t carrying hand-sanitizer yet.

We ran into hometown friends while we were there. Did I hug them? Or was my caution level high enough not to – we saw them in the evening after a long day of hanging out on the York campus watching news reports roll in. If I did hug them, it was so casual and automatic that I don’t even remember if it happened. How could I be so complacent about this now rare commodity – hugs?

I hugged my daughter, certainly. I don’t recall that hug specifically but I can’t see spending all day with my daughter and not hugging her. Surely I did.

A friend of mine had stayed at my house to take care of my new puppy while I was in the city. I got home at 1AM so he stayed over on the couch. Seeing as how isolation was in place overnight, and given that I had a cough so if I was sick, he was already exposed – I suggested he stay for a few days. He left on March 17th and I haven’t touched a human since.

Who are the last five people I hugged? My dog-sitting friend. My daughter. Maybe a couple from our hometown? A friend who visited the Saturday before this prolonged intermission?

I don’t remember when I last hugged my son. That hurts.

There are a lot of motivational posters and greeting cards extolling the advice “Live Each Day As If It Is Your Last.” Many of us are more keenly aware of the fragility and impermanence of life now. For over three thousand Canadians that last day was written by COVID-19. How many of their loved ones are sitting in their isolation, pained because in addition to their grief, they cannot remember when they last hugged the departed?

My motivational poster for the After will be “Give each hug as if it is your last.” I want to be present for the hugs of the After. I want to remember them. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist monk, teaches a practice called “Hugging Meditation“. Though it’s going to be awkward for my friends and family, these hugs include being “aware of how precious it is that you are both still alive.”

Who are the last five people you remember hugging?

Who will be the next five people you hug?

Pandemic Puppy

I am adorable. Love me.

I wonder sometimes if Valentine thinks he’s a ghost puppy. It’s like maybe people see him, but he’s obviously adorable and yet nobody pets him. Squirrels see him though, and they’re scared of him and this pleases him 🙂

On our walk today we passed a house with loads of decorations and statues in the front yard. One statue near the middle of them all was a really realistic one of a duck. There was a real squirrel, sitting on the fence, and as Valentine stepped toward it, the duck statue quacked and flew away. Startled us both!

On CBC they talked today about profs who used to bring their dogs to school so students could get dog therapy back in the Beforetimes when people were near to each other. Then we all went to our houses and didn’t come out again and the students missed their dog friends. So the profs set up dog office hours online so the students could watch their friends sleep or dig holes or do whatever the dogs chose to do on camera.

It got me thinking, maybe that’s how I can help. I can’t nurse or doctor, and I’m only very recently recovered from COVID symptoms myself. I haven’t quite been granted the right to practice psychotherapy. BUT! I do have an adorable puppy.

Thinking I’ll try to do a daily live stream of him being a puppy. It’s hard because he’s not too fond of my being on my phone and I don’t think I’ll get him to understand that he is the focus of the screen time! But my friends who don’t have puppies can get puppy time, right? And once I’m certain it’s OK within guidelines, I’ll start offering puppy play time to friends where they can play with Valentine in the backyard. I’ll be present, a safe 2-3 meters away until I get confirmation that I’m immune and not contagious. So no children until then, because I wouldn’t want to have to intervene – Valentine doesn’t know any children yet.

What do you think? Would you enjoy a puppy live stream? He IS adorable 🙂

Covid-19

Everything has stopped and everything is still going. I still have just as much work to do but I feel like I don’t because I am no longer going to the places where the work lives. It feels like I’m outside of everything but actually, the expectations and obligations are the same. Social distancing when you’re not really sick is weird, it’s hard but a really easy kind of hard. I have food and wifi and credit cards if I need to order more of anything and friends and family and I really like being at home. But this dissonance. SHOULD I stay home? Should I go out and spend money in the community (but not cash money, that’s gross). Should I see people and do things now before the enforced isolation is mandated? Is it true that I am being helpful and doing the right thing by staying in? I feel anxiety over not knowing what I should be doing and thinking it’s probably a lot but then doing none of it.

I also have the strangest FOMO. I’ve done so much less in my social life and hobbies lately because of grad school. I didn’t miss the things much, at least not after I adjusted to their absence, because I was busy being a grad student. Now I am getting emails from every organisation or business I’ve ever brushed up against and experiencing something like FOMO, like being reminded of absent lovers I had forgotten I was missing. “It’s been months, I know, but I just wanted to reach out and let you know you can’t see me.”

What day is it? What time is it? Is there a Zoom I should be on? When did Zoom become the go to video conferencing app? Did I feed the dog? It’s just a surprisingly bewildering time.

First Time Home Buyer

It’s been so long since I owned my own home that I now qualify for the First Time Home Buyer Program here in Canada. I’m a full-time student working part-time for a church, so this information isn’t of any real use to me. Not yet.

I’ve owned as opposed to rent for the majority of my adult life. I was married when we bought our first home, for $96,000, in 1998. You probably couldn’t buy that house for less than $225,000 now! After the divorce, I wound up cohabitating with a boyfriend and selling my house. I used the proceeds to buy into his house. When that didn’t work out, and once he had his credit score fixed, he paid me out from that house and I used those proceeds to buy my very own little bungalow which I nicknamed the Hobbit House. I loved living in that house.

Another failed relationship later and I bought a 2600 sq ft, four bedroom home near the kids’ high school. I rented out the bungalow. This new home had two decks and each deck had a lilac tree growing beside it.

I sold my sweet bungalow to pay off all my debts once the kids had both moved out.

I sold the larger home to put money down on a condo with yet another boyfriend. When that ended, he wasn’t able to free up money to give me back my down payment and couldn’t qualify for the mortgage on his own. So I started renting, for the first time since I was 26. I moved to a co-op, which was a drastic change from the exclusive condo lifestyle. I spent a year in the co-op, and then three years in a lovely one bedroom apartment with a splendid view.

Now for two years I’m living in my friends’ house while they’re out of the country. This keeps the rent very low and allows me to go to school, while keeping their house safe and well-tended. I am so glad to be back in a house. I am also glad to have had a break from taking care of a house, but it’s good to be back. When these two years are over, I’ll want to buy a house again. With the home buyer plan, I can use RRSP for my down payment without tax consequence, and save on some transfer tax. I’m gonna need an income though! So all that said, I better get doing my school work so I qualify for a mortgage when I graduate.

This post brought to you by second term looming procrastination.

Happy 2020!

Gotta be quick here, gotta make with words then make my way out the door. There’s dancing and champagne and I’m entering the new year – heck, the new decade – wearing a mu-mu and llama socks, like no fucks given. I went back through my journal, through my Google calendar, through my Instagram, trying to find evidence of my last fuck given. 404, fucks not found. 2019 rocked.

I wrote out the notable and amazing things in 2019 and it took two pages in my journal. Tomorrow I start three new journals – one for object writing, one for planning and scheming even more wickedly awesome moments and achievements, and one for “Dear diary, wow, I can’t even, like wow” type stuff that no one will ever read.
2019 I went to many workshops each of songwriting, singing, improv, and psychotherapy. I took in more live music than some people do in a lifetime. I went to theatre more than once every month.

I applied for, was accepted to, and started grad school. I took massively bold steps forward into the future I want for myself. I started a job that makes me think and grow and that I believe in. I earned money acting.

I loved friends and lovers, and I swam around in the pleasant greys of no fucks given and love being love.

I did say good bye to a dog. We did have a formal goodbye for my mother. I was really stressed out at times. I was confused and sometimes my heart hurt a lot – that seems to happen when we love, doesn’t it? I failed at quitting drinking three times. I came to terms with my relationship with alcohol.

I danced so much. I joined crazy arts and culture events. I attended three conferences, all without a career to advance. I enjoyed untold pleasant conversations.

I loved 2019. I’ve been wanting a year like 2019 for a long, long time. I dropped all my fucks in January and was in the moment as much as I possibly could. So maybe this is why I’m trying to manufacture giddiness for the New Year. I have no need to escape the dying year. I’m confident the new one holds delight and living and crying and laughing and thinking and novelty enough to satisfy even me.

Happy New Year my friends. Happy New Decade. Happy New Day. Happy Right Now, and most likely Happy Tomorrow.

Tiny Herod

Grand River Unitarian Universalist Congregation Sanctuary, Christmas Eve

    This is where I work but tonight I was not working. I got to sing carols, light candles, and listen to stories. Look how whimsical and warm this space was. I needed some of that.
    The thought we left with was how each character in the story of the birth of Jesus lives in the world today, and a small version of each lives within us. Tiny, jealous Herods writhing within us, desperate to control everything to retain power. Angels, singing joy and praising the good. Magi, our inner wisdom skating the line between science and magic to discover truth. How does your Tax Collector show up? What is your Innkeeper like? Can you sense the simple gifts your inner Shepherd offers?
    The sermon didn’t get psychodynamic but that doesn’t mean I can’t. Maybe Christmas is as good a time as any to remember the Child within you and somehow feel again the miracle of their birth. Know that inside you is a Mother and a Father that is yours to be in relationship with. You can tell the story of that relationship the way you want, in your own words, and by whatever new rules you choose. 
    I think I better stop there before I start looking for my inner Donkey and Cow.
Merry Christmas to everyone who believes that, rejoice the return of the light if you’re on the hemisphere experiencing that, and Happy New Year to all who mark time in this way.         Conjure your blessings as you best fathom, and welcome to them. 

 

Puppies!


A friend’s dog had puppies. Oh! I said. Puppies! I want a puppy!
OK, he said. You can have a puppy.
Now for weeks every day I debate getting a puppy.

I tried thinking logically about it but getting a puppy or owning another creature isn’t really a logical choice in my mind. Likewise, I think having children is not a logical choice, unless your income is derived in such a way that creating your own work force makes sense. Most of the reasons to not get a dog are very logical: you need to change your schedule to accommodate a dog, they cost money in vet bills and food, you need to pick up their excrement, you can no longer go away or stay away unexpectedly, they’re an incredible amount of work as puppies and still actually a fair bit of work as dogs.

On the plus side, puppies. Dogs.

I can’t assign a weight to “puppies, dogs” so I can’t choose logically.
I do live alone and the company would be amazing. And having an alert dog would make me feel much safer. Of course, I’d have to work out some kind of puppy-sitting arrangement with family and friends for when I’m in class or on placement. I don’t know where I’m going to be living in 18 months. I don’t know where I’ll be working or how much I’ll be making.

OTOH life is so damned short and I miss having a dog.

And, wait, logically here now, I could train this dog to be a therapy dog, and when I have my practice, I would have a dog at the office that is trained as a therapy dog. And we would visit hospitals and care homes and universities! Yes, yes, this makes sense. By the time I’m done being trained as a therapist, the dog would be trained in therapy too!

Does that actually make sense? Am I inventing an impossible dream to rationalize doing something I’m almost certainly going to do even though it’s not sensible?

Yesterday at work at the Unitarian congregation, a congregant arrived with a fluffy, white puppy that was wearing a service-dog-in-training harness. After receiving permission, I commenced petting said puppy. It’s like joy in a harness! I exclaimed. The Puppy Owner agreed. I’d love to have a dog as a therapy dog for when I’m done school and open a practice, I said. She nodded.

Yeah, she says. That’s what this little guy is being trained for. I’m part of a private practice and we’re setting up a mindfulness group for trauma victims. This guy is going to be part of the group. He’ll be working in the practice once his training is complete, kind of an office dog.

I just need to decide on a name now, really.