Closing the door on 2020

Years ago, when I was a Correctional Officer at Kingston Penitentiary, separating the two worlds of prison and personal life was vital to maintaining mental, physical, and relationship health.

Access in and out of the massive complex was via a heavy, eight-inch-thick, steel door, that could only be unlocked by an officer working a control inside. It would close with a thunderous bang. This entry/exit point was called the North Gate.

The North Gate, Kingston Penitentiary

When I arrived, the sound would remind me that I’d entered a different world, one in which the abnormal became normal. After a shift where anything and everything did happen, the sound of that door banging shut would be my cue to leave the day’s drama behind. I’d step out onto the sidewalk where cars and cyclists sped by, and parents pushed their babies in strollers, oblivious to the walled world they passed. I had just reentered the normal.  

This post is not about prison or my past life, it’s about you and how you choose to close the door on 2020 . . . a year of abnormalities that became normal.  How do you heal from this and move on?

Unfortunately, we will all carry some scars from this past year, depending on your experience and resilience . . . everyone will be affected.  I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic, that’s just the way the human brain works.

Now for the positive . . . you can heal from this and move on. Yes, I know that the abnormal continues into 2021, but there are some signs that we are turning a corner. Vaccines are rolling out, and hopefully those who need it most will receive it soon.

So many things happen that we are not in control of, but we are gifted with the ability to control our thoughts, and if we cannot stop the obsessive ones, to seek help.

Thoughts beget emotions, which beget actions.

My father, a wise man, used to say, ”Garbage in, garbage out.” If you feed your mind bad thoughts, your emotions will follow.

So now might be a good time to think about a way to close that heavy door and move forward to a life of peace.

A few things that may help:

-develop an exercise routine and stick with it (plenty of exercise videos available, if you are confined to an apartment)

-get professional help; many clinics offer virtual meetings

-find positive distractions

-develop an attitude of gratitude; there is still good in this world and always something to be thankful for

-practice mindfulness; live in the present

-talk to a trusted friend

-meditate

-pray

-use the Capture/Check/Change method for dealing with negative thoughts. This one takes some practice. It works like this: As soon as a negative thought comes, you Capture it, then Check to see its validity, finish off with Changing the thought with a positive (might I suggest the attitude of gratitude)

-seal off those bad thoughts in an airtight container. It was a heavy metal door for me, yours could be a large safe, an indestructible bubble made from Hubba Bubba gum, or a titanium box . . . whatever you choose, try to stuff all those baddies in there and seal them off.

You are not alone in all of this and it too, shall pass. There is still hope and good in this world.

I wish you  and your families all these best in this upcoming year. Stay safe!

Saving the world, one coffee cup at a time!

So, we’re into another week of COVID craziness here and the kiddos are looking at extended time off. It’s a fortunate thing that our wonderful school had the foresight to create some online learning videos, paired with the opportunity for messaging their teachers with questions, during certain times of the day. That being said, by the end of last week, cabin fever had set in and the isolation of social distancing was beginning to wear on this family.

The recent thaw of winter revealed humanity’s “best” behavior in the form of trash in the ditches. If you’d read my previous post, you’re aware that we don’t live in town and that we get some strange items dumped close to our doorsteps.

Wheelchairs aren’t the only thing that turn up on our beautiful countryside. In my nearly sixteen years here, I’ve seen countless beer bottles, coffee cups, flooring, an air conditioner, tires, televisions, a FULL- sized refrigerator, and once, a large, black plastic garbage bag that every crime show said I should NOT touch. Of course, I opened it. The contents, hold your breath, was potting soil. No, buddy just couldn’t dump out that “toxic” stuff and keep the bag. It’s a sad statement that people feel the need to use our neighborhood as a garbage dump.

This is not a rant, well, not all of it anyways, this is a post about teaching my kids social and environmental responsibility. Yes, this past weekend I took my offspring on a mission to clean up those ditches, I bought them each a ‘grabby-thing’ and they cheerfully went to town bagging recycling and garbage alike. When we were through, and after getting several compliments and thumbs up from neighbors and strangers driving by, there was a sense of pride and accomplishment among our trio.

My youngest, surprised and concerned, commented on just how much some people litter. I’m hoping that this experience has left an indelible impression on the value of good stewardship on their young minds. Here’s hoping for a more environmentally responsible generation. Below are just a few pics from our day.

 

triogarbage

Saving the world, one coffee cup at a time!

 

Isabelstream

Braving the “fast flowing” depths of ‘Ditch Canyon’ to get that piece of plastic and check out the baby minnows.

 

tiretree

Man Verses Nature, a discarded tire next to a beaver dam.

 

shingles

Hey folks, shingles belong on the roof, not in a marshland.

I’m sure that all of my readers are environmentally conscious, but if you know of anyone who considers the countryside as their personal landfill, please remind them that this world is ‘Borrowed from our children.’