Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time know how much I have enjoyed walking, especially in the parks near my home. I loved enjoying the changing seasons, animals such as deer which I often saw and just the exhilarating feel of being out in nature. A year or so ago I was walking 3-4 miles most days and then trouble struck. Like many seniors I now have a bum knee. Some of my friends are getting knee replacement, but I’m determined that isn’t going to be me. I’ve had two steroid injections with varying results and weight bearing can still be very painful at times.
After a few weeks of physical therapy I forgot all that I’d been taught and instructed to do, i.e., exercises. I’m not a good PT patient. Recently though I recalled a horrible machine that the therapist seem to enjoy seeing me suffer on. It was big and intimidating but was supposed to strengthen the leg muscles that would better support the knee. The more I thought about that contraption the more I thought I should have one to use at home. That was a problem because there was no room for it in my condo.
The more I thought about it the more I decided that I could live without the sofa in my office. With the help of my daughter someone was identified who needed a sofa so, much to the chagrin of my cat, Elliott, I gave the sofa away. Elliott would probably say I sacrificed his “napper.”
Next I had to find the machine and it wasn’t hard to do. It is called a Cardio Strider, which I promptly named The Beast! I will never tame it, but over the past week I’ve averaged 1.5 hours and eight miles per day. The Beast is big, it’s ugly and Elliott hates it. He seems to be embarrassed for me when I sit astride it and begin to work-out. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to get this bum knee in better condition so that I may be back walking in the park when spring gets here.
It has been a year since the pandemic began here in the United States. At that time, none of us knew what we were in store for. We were innocent and naive thinking we’d be inconvenienced for a short time. Now we know the hardships COVID19 is capable of causing. We wear masks, try to maintain a safe distance from others, don’t hug our loved ones and avoid shopping or eating out. People are working from home. Children have been trying to learn through virtual lessons. People we know and love are sick or perhaps even dying. Nothing is normal and we miss everything that we took for granted.
Most of us are aware that we are changed. We are not ourselves in many ways. Our feelings are not unlike those of grief when experiencing a specific loss, such as in divorce, a loss of a job or home, the death of a loved one or our own approaching death. In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first described what she called the five stages of grief. Looking at these stages now may help us to understand some of our current feelings and moods. Those five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
It is easy to see that our first reaction to the pandemic was denial that it could possibly be this serious. As time went on and we realized our lives were severely altered it was natural to feel anger. Anger at being told what we could and could not do, anger at those who refused to take those necessary precautions and anger at the inconvenience of it all was a frequent feeling. Bargaining may be harder to recognize, but at times we surely promised mentally that we’d follow the rules and that would bring an end to this curse sooner. Depression, including suicide, today is a significant problem according to mental health professionals. It is hard to fight when one is depressed and the condition becomes a vortex of despondency and a feeling of inertia that makes each day hard to face. Acceptance is having hope and in the case of COVID a feeling that normalcy will return and that life will be joyous again.
These stages of grief do not always come in this order and it isn’t unusual to switch back and forth among these stages. There are no exact parameters. Some degree of each stage will probably linger and overlap other stages. After twelve months of this experience you can probably identify these stages of grief in your life. Hopefully this recognition of the process and an understanding of the stages will help us to go forward with hope.
This poem by Sylvia (Mattingly, my niece) really touched a chord with me. During the past twelve months of pandemic many days have felt sorrowful, burdensome and hollow. I’m so grateful though, that there are days that which are full, full of love, caring, helping. Both kinds of days make up our lives for which we should be thankful. I hope your day if full of brightness and joy.
Each day we hear statistics regarding the number of COVID 19 cases and deaths occurring. We hear local, state, national and global figures. Our reactions vary depending on our own experiences with the pandemic. Unfortunately, we can become indifferent to the barrage of numbers unless it has affected us personally.
Numbers we don’t often hear are relative to how many cases and deaths take place in prisons. The incidence of COVID among prisoners is one in five. There have been over two thousand deaths which is 51% more than the general population. Each person who dies in prison leaves behind family who care about them. These loved ones need the same support and care that any grieving person needs, but it is difficult to receive due to the stigma of imprisonment.
A group of family members and other survivors have gone together to prepare a crowd sourced memorial for those who die in prison. Please review these obituaries, read about those who have died while locked away and look at their faces. They are our fellow human beings. Let’s spend some time honoring these lives lost. https://www.mourningourlosses.org
Looking at that huge nest which is home to this family got me thinking about the wonder of how nests are built. All birds build nests but none in North America as large and sturdy as those of bald eagles. I did a little research and this is what I learned.
Both males and females work together to carry the materials and design the nest but the female does more of the actual placement of the pieces that construct the home. The eagles’ nest can be as much as eight feet across, twelve feet deep and weigh over one ton! The interior of the bowl is lined with soft down from the parents and other materials such as lichen or sod. The sticks used in construction are large and can sometimes be carried in the parent’s talons for miles. It takes approximately three months to complete the huge nest and this process just precedes the female laying her eggs. Most bald eagle pairs use their nests for many years, they simply do a little renovation as necessary. This process results in the nest growing in size and weight each year and it may be used for over thirty years. It is also believed that the couple working on the nest together strengthens their bond.
Placement of the nest can be in any type tree or when unavailable even on the ground or on a cliff. The taller the tree the better so that there is the ability for the parents to observe the surroundings for danger. Nests are usually near a river or lake for foraging for fish for the babies to eat.
The source of some of this information is Journey North.org and Photos are by Pixabay
Off and on for the past several years I have watched bald eagle families on a live cam in Florida. It is sponsored by a realty company and has four cameras active at all times. The main one is aimed into the nest and lets you watch the entire process from egg laying through hatching and then much later the young ones taking their first flights.
On January 23, this year, two eaglets (E17 & E18) hatched on the same day which is unusual. For several days we watched as they were loving fed by H (Harriet) the Mom, and M the Dad. They were wonderful parents in every way. On January 29 I was devastated, as I’m sure were all watchers, when the nest was empty. There was a typed message that they had been removed by CROW. I was so sad to think that those little balls of fluff were kidnapped and no doubt killed by a crow.
It took a while for me to learn that CROW stood for the Clinic for Rehabilitation for Wildlife! The clinic staff had noticed that E17 and E18 had an eye problem. Their eyes were partly shut and had an exudate and CROW swooped in to help. Using a cherry-picker to reach the nest they took the eaglets and moved them to the clinic for treatment.
Although this is a good thing that they were able to help the little ones, it was still very sad to see Harriet and M sitting on the branches of the tree looking out and wondering where their babies had gone.
An update stated that the eaglets were doing well and should be put back in the nest after two weeks of treatment. By my calculations that should be around February 12 so I stopped watching the sad empty nest and grieving parents. To my surprise on Friday, Feb. 5 a friend texted me with the exciting news that the babies were back so, of course, I started to watch the little ones all alone in the nest. It was sad and scary. Hour after hour passed and I wondered if the parents were going to return. I was so afraid that the eaglets would become weak from no food. I knew that CROW staff was watching the camera and knew more about the situation than I did, but still I worried.
Finally, in late afternoon the parents returned. They took turns with E17 and E18, brooding, feeding, fluffing the nest. Isn’t nature wonderful? You can now check in on this bald eagle family anytime you choose. Over the weeks ahead they will grow, explore and eventually take their first flight. We can enjoy the progression and look forward to H and M’s next brood.
February is a month chocked full of special awareness. First of all it is Black History Month and I, personally, think it is a shame that a month (and the shortest at that) has to be set aside for black history. If the contributions of African Americans were taught as part of American History then a special month would not be needed. Black Americans should be included in the teaching of all our history, but this is not the case. Therefore, we need to learn and acknowledge those contributions this month and remember them throughout the year.
This book attempts to explain the spiritual life during two halves. The author sees this as young adulthood where life’s priorities are strict, organized and goal driven, but a time of making many mistakes. He sees the second half of life, beginning at approximately the fifties, as being more stable, peaceful and enlightened. These stages he relates to organized religion.
The author is a Catholic priest and explains his theory based on spirituality but not necessarily from the Christian point of view. He includes other religions such as Islam, Judaism and the Buddhist faith in his examples and references. This book and Rohr’s theory would probably be of little interest to those without any spiritual or religious background.
As a person well into the “second half” I could identify with some of his points but still found the book a bit confounding. I believe his main point was that we grow upward by falling down, i.e., making mistakes and being hurt. There is wisdom to be had in this book, but a plethora of analogies made it a bit hard for me to stick with it until the end.
PBS has called Richard Rohr “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world.”