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July 22, 2010 / Jenny Ann Fraser

The Summer Doldrums

It would make sense by now that some might be wondering what I’ve been up to, since I haven’t posted anything in some time.

I’m sort of wondering the same thing.

Even though I am impressed with how I’ve been working at keeping my commitment of practising “Presence” and trying my best to remain rooted in my body, I seem to be rolling through my days in a bit of a physical and mental fog.

Summer in Winnipeg is as short as it is beautiful, but even when it isn’t an unusually wet season, it is not my favorite time of year for a host of reasons.

First, there is unemployment.

For the past 15 years since I started my first job in my industry, working as a seamstress for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, summer work has always found its way to me. I used to wish for a break so that I could get some rest. Things have changed rather suddenly and now I am living through my second summer season with almost no work at all.

The job that I was planning to start a couple of weeks ago has fallen through for the second year in a row due to funding cuts, which is the same reason that there is no other work available for me.

I have mixed feelings about this.

Yes, I am bored, sometimes lonely, wishing for the structure of having to be somewhere each morning, and tired of being worried about every dime I spend… but relieved to not be doing intensely hard and stressful work for a company that has a long history of taking forever to pay. Sadly, chasing payment has become the story of our lives as freelancers working in The Arts. The truth is, I cannot afford to work at the moment unless I’m guaranteed a bi-weekly pay-cheque. It is safer for me to rely on insurance, even though it means there will be no extras of any kind in my near future. After surviving June with my unexpected expenses, I feel safer not working until I find something that will actually pay me on time.

Not working for the rest of the summer means that I won’t be opening any online store in the near future but it’s time I learned to be more patient. I’m not giving up. I’m taking a break.

The next thing that has been going on, and this is big reason why I don’t love summer, is that heat, humidity and no air-conditioning is exactly what my body needs to remind me in each minute that I do have Fibromyalgia. This is something that I usually manage without too much difficulty. Being too busy to stop moving often helps me to push through my muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, but heat exacerbates everything for me. I’m exhausted just walking up the stairs and I’ve decided for once in my life to give in. I’m not pushing myself when I have nothing to push myself for.

This is not bad news exactly. Having given myself permission, I am rather enjoying the days spent reading, napping, watching hours of fascinating documentaries. Being guilt free makes it almost fun to indulge myself, and giving myself rest helps me to manage my pain. I rarely have this option.

The hardest part of all of this is what they call “Fibro-Fog” which is the reason for my lack of writing, since time is obviously not an issue.

It’s as though my ADHD has turned into some progressive life destroying disease, rather than a manageable Developmental Disorder. Quite frankly, I can’t seem to hold a thought in my head for 10 consecutive seconds, despite my efforts to remain present. Mostly, I’m growing in awareness that I’m forgetting something.

I have so many ideas, and yet they usually morph into overwhelmingly complicated concepts before I can even get to the computer to begin writing anything down. My usual habit of walking to sort out the cyclone in my head isn’t working. I’ve usually moved onto another line of thought before I get the laces tied on my runners. I go for a walk anyway, and I always come up with of another list of things I’d like to write about, and then come home and nap because I’m always tired. Since I like to find the bright side of things, I can say with confidence having gone through this every year for as long as I can remember, “This too shall pass”. It always does, and when it does, I forget that I ever felt this way. (Points scored here on behalf of my crappy ADHD memory,it can come in handy!)

The Good News

I have maintained my dedication to living a more environmentally friendly life. I am learning a lot more, and I am excited about what I will do next. (Even though I have no idea what that is.)

I have almost cleaned my apartment, (insert blushing smiley) and while it is somewhat ridiculous that it has taken me this long to almost reach a goal that most people could achieve in a day… I am not most people. However,  if you knocked on my door today, I would let you in. (Don’t come tonight.  It has been raining all day and finally stopped.  I’m going wandering.)

I have made some patterns and prototypes for my business, and I actually have managed to do some writing, if not as much as I wanted. Tomorrow is another day, and anything can happen.

My cat Angus, is not dying of any horrible disease. While we still don’t know for sure why he is losing weight and his fur is falling out, he is about as happy as a cat can be and it looks like food allergies. This is a problem that I can solve by throwing money at it and I will.

The rest, is news that I would actually call awesome.

I am content.

No, I am not thrilled with the circumstances of my life at the moment, but unlike other periods of boring, lonely, unemployed poverty and chronic pain I am at peace. I am not having to work to convince myself to live with acceptance. I simply am accepting.

I am grateful for the fact that I have a fridge full of great food (believe me, that is sadly not always the case). I have money to do some socializing, great friends to visit when I have the energy.

I am not feeling my best, but I have time to rest and take care of myself until I am feeling better.

My main reason for disliking summer, is that all of the above mentioned issues for me usually mean one thing. Depression.

Not feeling blue, or bad, or simply down in the dumps, but actually having to fight to find a reason to stay alive.

All of the work that I have been doing all of these years is paying off. So much so, that most times of the day, if you see me, I am smiling.

I am smiling because I am content with this moment, and I’m smiling because I can smile. I am smiling, because I know that I am alright.

(OK.  Mostly I’m smiling right now because I finally wrote a blog post! 😛 )

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18 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. shiona / Jul 23 2010 2:41 am

    Hi Jenny,

    This is to say hello and let you know that I’m impressed at how you cope with the daily issues of your life. It is inspiring and very encouraging.
    I don’t like the summer very much either. Where I live, it is usually scorching hot and dry. We call it “the dead season” because business is meager in all spheres and because people take vacations to run away from the city.
    I’m glad your cat is not seriously ill. Pets can bring so much joy in one’s life.
    Very best wishes to you!

    • jennyannfraser / Jul 23 2010 9:49 am

      Oh, I just think about summer in an actually hot country and I am filled with gratitude that I live here! Honestly, I would summer in the Yukon or Alaska if I could afford to.
      Yes, pets really do bring much joy to our lives. I’m so relieved that Angus is not seriously ill.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. rob white / Jul 23 2010 10:07 am

    Hi Jenny,
    It seems that you truly are gaining some powerful insights about yourself. When you see ‘bad news’ about yourself … it is ‘good news’, and that is because you can do something about it. If you could not recognize it, then you are like a machine … simply reacting to life in a very predictable fashion (like machines are predictable with what they can do) … and you could do nothing about it (just like machines cannot change their own programming). There is so much to have appreciation for. As long as you maintain your attitude of gratitude you can continually attract more abundance in your life.

    • jennyannfraser / Jul 23 2010 4:47 pm

      Thanks for that reminder Rob!
      I love the idea of machines reacting with pre-programmed patterns. We are definitely not that… but only if we realize it.

  3. andrea / Jul 24 2010 7:23 am

    hi jenny.

    i’m glad you wrote this post! honesty is so refreshing and it seems like the work you’ve been doing is paying off – isn’t that beautiful when it happens?

    • jennyannfraser / Jul 24 2010 1:13 pm

      It is wonderful when that happens! I am also grateful that I recognize that!
      Thanks for stopping by Andrea!

  4. Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point / Jul 26 2010 4:56 pm

    Jenny, I love this post because your inner beauty shines through. I know it sounds corny but there’s so much in this post that makes me hopeful about many things — about the world, about my son, about me, about those I love. I admire that you don’t let guilt take over because it’s an issue I grapple with a lot even though I know that for the most part, it’s useless.

    As for summer in SF, it’s bleak and foggy and not good for depression. I often feel like I’m on a different planet when folks lament over their 90-degree weather in July. We’ll get our Indian summer for sure. We all get our sunny days, literally and metaphorically, don’t we?

    Thanks for an awesome post.

    • jennyannfraser / Jul 26 2010 7:08 pm

      Ah, so true, we do get our sunny days. We have to accept them and the cloudy, dark days. The key I think is acceptance of what is right now, with the knowledge that it will change to something else in the future. Something that we can always say about the weather no matter where we live!
      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. I am touched that I might have fueled some inspiration and hope.

  5. Gnetchy / Jul 26 2010 9:09 pm

    Beautiful post. Sincere and honest, which I love. Glad you’re smiling right now despite everything.

  6. tobeme / Jul 27 2010 5:56 am

    Jenny Ann,
    Sounds like you are in a good place and that your awareness of everything is helping you to enjoy each moment. Love to you.

  7. Artswebshow / Jul 28 2010 3:41 am

    kind of a mixied bag here.
    You life seems fairly well balanced right now

  8. Ollin Morales / Jul 28 2010 7:20 pm

    Great to hear your smiling Jenny! 🙂

    • jennyannfraser / Jul 28 2010 9:47 pm

      Thanks for that Ollin. I hear it can be contagious. 🙂

  9. DM / Aug 1 2010 4:39 pm

    I told someone this morning there are just a few things I am striving for @ this point in the journey- #1 being content, followed closely by a sense of inner peace. I love the creative energy I feel coming from you. I too am self employed and can relate oh sooooooo much to that sense of being dependent on new work coming in. Sometimes I know what I’ll be doing for the next several months, and then it’s back to day to day, week to week. I think the idea is to teach us to trust. Can’t learn that lesson in a book.

    • jennyannfraser / Aug 1 2010 5:13 pm

      Hello,
      I think you are right about learning to trust. I look back on my whole life and recognize that no matter what difficulties I have had to face, (which have been many) I have always survived and eventually come out stronger. This is how I trust (which doesn’t mean I would love a little more security).
      What you speak of regarding being content and having inner peace as goals to strive for is what I was planning to write about later today! LOL. Now I’m committed!
      Thanks for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment!

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