Three Courageous things we can change right now

“The Serenity Prayer” has been drifting in and out of my mind ever since this whole coronavirus nightmare began. It’s the mantra of all 12-Steppers, and a reminder that not everything is under our control. When we feel compelled to take control of a situation, or person, we repeat this prayer in our minds as sort of a psychological reset button:

God, grant me the Serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and Wisdom to know the difference.

A lot of people focus on the Serenity part of this, and stop right there. Some move on to embrace “Courage.” But it’s “Wisdom” that’s actually the key, because how do you know if you need Serenity or Courage if you haven’t used your Wisdom to figure out if the best course of action is acceptance or change? The entire concept of this mantra rests upon Wisdom.

As it pertains to coronavirus/Covid-19, it doesn’t take a lot of Wisdom to figure out that until a vaccine and a cure are found, this microscopic monster is completely out of our control. No point in wasting any Courage on fighting the virus itself. That’s up to the doctors and scientists. All the rest of us can do is focus our Courage on sheltering in place, wearing masks and gloves in public, amping up our hand-washing routines, maintaining social distance, and avoiding unnecessary errands. These are things we can change. The rest of it? This virus has a clear non-discrimination policy: It doesn’t care about your race or religion or age or income — anyone and everyone could be the next victim. Other than taking the precautions you can, the rest is all up to Lady Luck.

Maybe that’s where the Serenity (if there’s any to be found) comes in: We change what we can and hope for the best, because all the worry and anxiety and dread in the world will have zero impact on luck.

Zero.

All that said, it’s pretty much impossible to consider the proliferation of this pandemic in the U.S. without considering the one who enabled it: Donald Trump. First, he declared coronavirus to be a liberal hoax. Then, he downplayed it as something that would magically disappear in April (more than 30,000 dead in the U.S. and counting as of today). Next, he attempted to relabel the virus as the “Chinese Virus,” and paint the Chinese at fault (thereby providing a convenient enemy). The ultimate transgression occurred this week when he canceled U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, blaming the WHO for not taking charge of this virus (redirecting blame for its spread in the U.S. away from himself.) Right when the WHO needs our funding the most!

Trump squandered an entire month in the early days of this pandemic, as well as any opportunity we had of preventing its spread. Of course he denies all that, and seems to be utterly unaware that videotape exists.

Sadly, because the Republican Senate refused to give Trump the impeachment he so richly deserves and remove him from office, we’re now in the midst of one of our country’s biggest crises, completely devoid of a stable, mature hand at the helm. It’s the worst case scenario, in 365 degrees. We’re stuck with an infantile, sociopathic megalomaniac in charge, and all I can say about that is thank Goddess for state governors. At least there are some adults in the room.

I can’t be rid of Covid-19 or Trump soon enough. I’m not sure which will ultimately cause the most carnage. While all we can do is wait for an end to coronavirus, as for Trump, we can do something about that. The tick-tick-tick of his clock running out is the ambient background in my mind.  Sadly, we have to muddle through until November before we can jettison the worst President in U.S. history.

Thanks, Republicans.

The notion of a landslide loss in November has Trump worried. So worried, in fact, that I’m certain that his motivation for recently refusing a coronavirus relief bill if it included funding for the U.S. Postal Service is because mail-in ballots will contribute to his downfall. He’s mentioned them as “corrupt” multiple times, even though five states do mail-in voting exclusively, without incident, and ironically, even though he votes by mail himself. Mail-in paper ballots are almost impossible to hack electronically, so there’s  no room for remote manipulators to flip every other Democratic vote to the Republican side. Bottom line, Trump realizes that he can’t win if he can’t cheat. He doesn’t care what he destroys as long as he gets to call himself a winner.

What a loser.

How does all this tie in to the Serenity Prayer? I put my Wisdom to work, to help me recognize the things I could change that actually required no Courage at all: I contributed to Joe Biden’s campaign, because he’s our only hope of getting rid of Trump, and I bought two books of Forever stamps to funnel funds to the U.S. Postal Service. Just to be saucy, I did a third thing: I contributed to Amy McGrath’s campaign for the Kentucky Senate. She stands a good chance of ousting longtime incumbent Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is the main reason that the impeachment didn’t culminate in the removal of Trump from office. He sets the tone of this morally bankrupt Republican Senate, which blocks any and all liberal or progressive efforts just on principle, regardless of value or benefit to the public. If you think about it, McConnell is even worse than Trump because he knows better, he knows the Constitution, and he knows how government is supposed to work. But he’s willing to abandon all that, and all of us, as well as his oath of office, just to cling to the coattails of a shallow, self-serving imbecile.

When we #DumpTrump in November, it will be icing on the cake to #DitchMitch as well. Many of us will do so using mail-in ballots because we can’t let a nasty virus prevent us from exercising our Constitutional right to vote. And we’ll need those stamps to do so!

While the end of the virus is still not within sight, the end of this presidency is. Until then, stay home and stay Serene, my friends.

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Rebooted reboot

I know, I know, I know…

I popped back in from outer space on January 1, all ready to reboot this blog and get back to opining about all sorts of things about which no one asked my opinion, and then… *crickets*

So, a funny thing happened on the way to that reboot. Not “haha” funny, but unusual and highly distracting. I realize that “highly distracting” means almost nothing coming from someone who darts off after the first “Squirrel!” but this time, I think these things will qualify even for those with the most steadfast spans of attention.

I was waiting to really get going on blogging again until my book cover was done and I could swing down that path. Because yes, people, Squirrel or no, I did manage to complete my first book last year and all in all, I am pretty damn pleased with it and myself.

To kick off my celebration of finally accomplishing something, I attended the annual Pagan convention, Pantheacon, in mid-February and went to Llewellyn Worldwide’s author gathering, and saw my book cover for the first time! What a surprise, and what a peak experience that was! I was over the moon. So yes, “The Elements of Horse Spirit — The Magical Bond Between Humans and Horses” is happening, my friends! I have photographic evidence, and also heard that it went to press two weeks ago. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon right now! How cool is THAT!

I returned from Pantheacon all set to shine a spotlight on the next leg of my life’s journey and got slammed with an unexpected surprise. After many years of relentless arm pain and restriction, it turns out I had not only a bone spur under the end of my collarbone, digging right into the nerve that runs to the deltoid muscle, but also two rotator cuff tears — one partial, and one a full thickness tear, the latter of which being the truly troublesome part.

After consulting with a surgeon, a specialist, and my own dear doc, the opinion was unanimous: The rotator cuff must be repaired before the severed ends scar over because at that point, it will no longer be repairable. At that point, I’d be looking at a shoulder replacement. And ANY replacement of ANY body part weirds me the hell out, so that was incentive enough to make my decision easy.

In February, the surgeon gave me a window of six months to repair the damage. Initially, I wanted to do what all good journalists do, and push that surgery out to the last possible moment… let all that good old deadline energy propel me through. However, both the specialist and my doc said, “Do it NOW.” I have to wonder if both of them knew that coronavirus was heading our way, and if I stalled, there’d be a good chance my surgery would be denied as “non essential” during the midst of this pandemic. Thankfully, whether foresight or conservative medical opinion, I did as they said, and had my shoulder repaired on March 3.

I went in for surgery, and the world was relatively normal, albeit caution about hand-washing and being aware of activities that might spread the virus was floating around. I came out of surgery, and the entire world turned upside down. Within one week, the shelter-in-place orders went into effect in California and we were all thrust into a new, unfamiliar reality. And possibly not a temporary one. We will likely be living this way until a vaccine is found, and that could take as long as 18 months, so, well… maybe invest in a bidet because that’s a LOT of toilet paper that we don’t have, my friends.

What does this all have to do with your alleged writing reboot, Debra? Jeez, get ON with it.

Well, it’s this: I imagined that even though I had to wear a bulky arm sling 24-7 for the entire first month, I’d still be able to write. I imagined wrong. Sitting at the computer with that thing on required uncomfortable contortions that made focusing on writing pretty much impossible, and my hand and arm were as weak as a newborn kitten. Beyond the physical discomfort, I discovered that following general anesthesia, plus extreme sleep deprivation due to the sling and only being able to sleep (or attempt it, rather) in a recliner, I’d lost my words as if someone locked the room in my brain where they all are. Locked out! I struggled to find the exact word I was trying to say, and to even finish a sentence. For someone who lives in a world of words, this was most unsettling. I said a lot of things like, “I need to go get that thing to do that… thing… ” and sometimes I’d hear a sentence come out of my mouth and my ears would detect that I didn’t use the words I’d intended to. That was upsetting all by itself.

And then the coronavirus tsunami washed over us all.

It didn’t take long before my good old pal Anxiety roared back into my life, further paralyzing my ability to write anything longer than a snarky Facebook post. What irony, right? Suddenly I’m gifted with endless time to write, and between physical discomfort and psychological anguish over our impending collective doom… I’m unable to write a damn thing. And so… I gave up on writing for the rest of March, and on into early April, until I could get the sling off. Just completely furloughed my brain and decided that epic hours spent playing Candy Crush and watching reruns of The Office was forgivable under the circumstances. “Just heal,” I told myself. “That’s all you need to do.” And so, the days wore on, just an endless cycle of changing from P.M. pajamas to A.M. pajamas and back again.

Until this morning. Today is the first time in nearly six weeks that I’ve been able to sit at a keyboard and use both hands without pain, AND have enough psychological bandwidth to write something reasonably coherent. Milestone, people! Yes, the whole coronavirus thing is running like a ticker tape through the back of my brain, but as I said… this is now our reality. I must teach myself to write again in spite of it, because this is where we’re stuck, and this is where we’ll stay. Thank Goddess it’s totally comfy to write in PJs, which ironically was always my ultimate dream. Somehow, I didn’t quite imagine it this way, but this is what it is.

And here we are, all the way to the end of a column! Hopefully my writing Muse has been kickstarted! This may not be my best work, but hey — it’s SOME work, and that’s more than I’ve done since January. It may contain typos because my post-surgery anxiety-saturated brain is still struggling a bit, so apologies in advance. But hopefully, my reboot is officially rebooted! Now if we just could go awhile without anything else funny happening. (Note to the Universe: No more surprises, please. Enough’s enough. You’ve made your point: Control is all an illusion. We get it. Don’t be a dick and hammer it home. Nobody likes a dick.)

Me, seeing the cover of my book for the first time at Llewellyn Worldwide’s authors party at Pantheacon in February 2020!