Thursday, March 5, 2015

Joy to the world...

Can we make joy happen? During these snowy, dark, depressing days of winter, can we will it to be? Those of us who are chronically ill and hampered by the weather and its unpredictability (sorry weather forecasters) just seem to drop down, down, down beside each snowflake, next to one another in homes where we can not see.

So we take joy in the 'little things' like playing with the dog, or a television series marathon, music, or a good home-cooked meal. But there is something missing to jolt us up and out of bed; to struggle with the day because we have to take care of ourselves.
  • Wake up. Check.
  • Feel for aches and pains. Check. 
  • Take pre-breakfast meds. Check.
  • Make specially-approved breakfast for condition. Check. 
  • Look at calendar to see if you have any appointments or conference calls. Check. 
  • Sit down at desk to work. Check. 
  • Leave desk two or three times to remediate annoying side effects of meds. Check.
  • Think about walking through the snow to the gym. Check.  
  • Worry about falling on ice like last week. 
... and so on and on until darkness falls and you are tired from the routineness of yet another 'wintry mix' day.

If you have Lupus, fibromyalgia, Raynaud's Disease or any other of the thousands of auto-immune disorders, cold and wet is not your friend. You long for the rays of hot sun and, even, the humidity. Air conditioning just recreates winter for you so in spring and summer, you spend a lot of time outdoors and there is joy in the seasons. It's an easier joy for me to capture.

Researchers write about SAD or Seasonal Affective  Disorder. I wonder if it's a real thing or just something we all go through. Mayo Clinic says: "SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons.  SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer."

I don't think I have SAD. I've just got the winter weather blues like a lot of us.

Yet others love the cold, snowy weather! They revel in skiing, sledding and snowmen, They hike through icy and snow-laden woods. I remember those days. I was five-years-old. 

Because he was a New York City firefighter through many winters, my husband suffers frostbite on some of his fingers. I watch as a good part of his hand turns white when he doesn't wear gloves. I can't imagine him covered in water and icicles all those winters ago.

Today, our first responders and Department of Public Works staff do the same, braving all sorts of weather to reach tragedies or traumas. And we say to ourselves: "I'm glad it wasn't me."

I'm blessed. I can work from home and tend to my illnesses and my family. I have nothing to complain about. But I remember traveling to and from work in these awful weather days. Climbing over mountains of snow and cleaning off my car too many times to count. My trusty 1969 VW Bug with a 1973 engine that I owned in the early 1980s could be completely covered in snow but would start up reliably. It had no heat because the floorboards had rotted out, as those of you with old Volkwagen Bugs will recall, but your hands could easily act as windshield wipers if they failed because of how close you were sitting to the windshield.

I miss that car. That car alone was joyful. It's beep was happy. It could also climb through snow like a mountain goat because the engine was in its rear. Go figure that it's today's SUVs that are slipping and sliding all over the place. I also miss cutting a hole in a trash bag and slipping it over my head as a helluva a sled to throw myself down a hill.

If I can recapture those feelings, I can have joy every day no matter the weather or time zone. I just did.

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