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Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

Sometimes blogging makes me think too much and I need a break. Sometimes exercise is impossible due to injuries. The Salvation Army has saved my butt during several dark Alaskan winters by sponsoring an arts and crafts project called Transformed Treasures.  They give participants $50 worth of Salvation Army coupons in order to transform 3 items from their stores and then they are auctioned off in the spring. I have completed my three just in time to start rehearsals for a show.

As an unmarried woman without children I am conscious that I can not make my job or my blog or my home or my hobbies my life. I am an amateur at everything. Many people frown on this but it is my credo that if I stop loving something I should take a break from it. If I feel that something is taking on too much significance in my life, in that I am making it more important than my recovery, then I need to step back.  Obviously I can’t give up on everything. That’s what depression wants, so I have lots of alternative interests.   As an over active person, painting allows me to sit down and pursue something that has much more process than endgame.

In the past, I have painted sneakers, (trainers for you Brits) and  lamps in tribute to women artists. This year was just a fun bit of steampunk and Doctor Who. I have never painted reverse on glass so this was a great process of making mistakes and living with imperfection. Everything used was non-toxic. I especially liked aging the letter holder with acrylic paints added to watered down isopropyl alcohol and applied with a hand pump sprayer. What fun, and it looks like mold and patina.

Here is the distressed steampunk letter holder. The internet is great for finding old bills of lading and dirigible pictures to decorate with.

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

Old School is new school again. Get off line. Write notes and letters.

Here are my Doctor Who plates. Who knows why I love this show so much? The multiethnic cast? The great British actors? The broad themes of human struggle and humor that echo the original Star Trek?

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I’m not really sure if there is a market for a Darlek dinner plate. I believe a child or diehard adult fan would appreciate it. It looks a little angry but perhaps angry dinner plates can be a new thing? It’s therapeutic to make something that speaks to oneself and hope that the spirit moves someone else. Even though it is not a terribly original idea, it’s still an odd one and I am proud of that.

The first piece I made is the Tardis plate which is a bit rough around the edges as I was just learning to paint on the reverse and get the lettering right.  But it does have transparent windows which are cool.

DoctorWhoTardisplatejcullinanetransformedtreasures

It looks like the Tardis is falling rather than flying but she often does that. I believe it will be a nice plate for fish sticks and pudding dip.

I’m happy to be giving these away.  I just hope I spelled everything right. If not they don’t have my name on them. I feel a bit less anxious but that could also be all the chocolate I’ve been eating. Bon Appetit.

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Advice from Alaska on how to deal with a Polar Vortex

 

It is generally colder here in Alaska than in your backyard so we would like to help you survive the next few days of POLAR VORTEX. We don’t have POLAR VORTEX here but we do have The Arctic Circle and the record for the coldest temperature in the United States, (-80 degrees F in the 1970’s.)

Chances are you SHOULD NOT GO SWIMMING TOMORROW, EVEN AT THE POOL.  Your hair, if not dried completely, will get all frozen when you walk out and you will look like Doc Brown. At some point, dry thirsty hair will bite back by shocking  you with static electricity which could kill you, when and if it is the form of lightening, so LOOK OUT!

Your lips will get incredibly chapped. DON’T LICK THEM! Your tongue may stick to them, no just kidding. Slather on the lip balm which your grocery and drug store will run out of in 35 minutes from this posting. Also your legs will itch uncontrollably and you WILL break out in a weird rash of red bumps on your torso. I would show you a picture of my cold weather rash but it is all gone because it is a balmy 32 degrees and snowing here in Anchorage. Slather on the moisturizer or shortening or lard if necessary.  Do not go to the emergency room. This is not Shingles.

The freezing point is  the weather we prefer here. It is perfect. You will soon agree.  Although 20 degrees is better for ice skating which is only done outdoors here. If you go ice skating in minus 20 degrees F, as I have done on occasion, you may find your nose is running and wipe it on your mitten. Only you will find blood all over you as your nasal membranes may burst. This is not a medical emergency, just poor judgement.

I saw this  headline posted online

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

I traced it down to this website:

Experts Are Warning People Not To Breathe Deeply Or Talk Outside Ahead Of The Polar Vortex

Uproxx

who in term attributed it to The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa.  I combed through the NWS Iowa site and saw no mention of silence or walking backwards while throwing salt over your shoulder in order that the POLAR VORTEX shall not strike you dead with its Mighty Ice Scythe.

Truth be that this map was also featured on the Uproxx site:

I’m not so sure I can take this site seriously as Alaska and Hawaii are not even accounted for. Hawaii and Alaska might just say, ” Yo! You want those Smallpox blankets back?”

As far as not breathing deeply outside, you can accomplish that easily by inducing a panic attack which involves shallow breathing.  Start thinking about Trump or your retirement account, what’s left of it, or your diet before going outside.  Panic is your friend. Remember if you turn blue, faint and break your head open it probably isn’t from the cold but from your lack of breathing. God forbid you wear a scarf or face mask. JUST DON’T TALK. THE POLAR VORTEX STALKS PEOPLE WHO TALK! JUST SHUT UP FOR GODSAKES AND LIVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Here’s some more unsolicited advice from Alaska. DO GO OUTSIDE! IF YOU DO NOT, EVERYONE FROM WORK WILL HAVE A STORY ABOUT HOW COLD IT WAS BUT YOU AND YOU WILL HAVE NOTHING TO TELL YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW HOT IT IS THIS SUMMER.  Best to walk to the store and buy some ice cream. That is something to be able to write on your tombstone.

Also there will be things you want to purchase for this event such as Touchscreen gloves. Do not even think of it. These do not work in Alaska, maybe because we have sketchy internet service or maybe because IT’S TOO COLD!!  Your fingers will fall off in those wimpy gloves. Touch screen mittens would be a better idea but then you would need a phone like this:

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which is traditionally used indoors.

In Alaska we do tend to wave conversations inside when it gets too cold. We wear layers or if you are pretentious you buy high tech polar clothing even if you don’t work outside.  We plug in our cars and the people with the high tech polar clothing have remote car starters and seat warmers. Most adults go outside each day no matter how cold it is because we are insane but recess is cancelled because little children don’t know how to slow down in the cold. We don’t do marathon training in that kind of weather but we also don’t call in sick from work or people will laugh at us. People have been know to go camping in minus twenty and sleep in snow shelters for fun.

Enjoy your POLAR VORTEX. Don’t die. Don’t stop breathing and remember that silence won’t save you. THE POLAR VORTEX CAN READ YOUR MIND! Alsoif you do happen to get the day off, consider pairing with a co-worker and driving to the store or foodbank or just to a local bus stop and offering folks a ride home or wherever. It will warm your heart if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Woman tries every peppermint product of the holiday season!

BE MERRY!  The season demands I comply. Peppermint disappears from the shelves like eggnog and its predecessor pumpkin spice. It dies a cruel death even though you and I know it will bloom in every crevice of free soil come June.  I need PEP to get through the winter. PEP smells good and it comes with sugar and chocolate. It is spirited!

Although I do worry a bit about diabetes, I worry more about depression, Donald Trump’s impact on my life and my own sanity so this year I tried peppermint. Lot’s o’ peppermint.  Here are the results.

Product number 1:  Peppermint cocoa or mocha.

I make it at home with the cheapest cocoa packet, almond milk and peppermint extract.  I never used to buy the packets because I always have baking cocoa on hand but you  have to put 5 minutes of work into that.  When I buy it at a coffee stand it better be great because I make this all the time and I want a treat. Give me the Goddamn whipped cream please!

Kaladi’s Brothers hot chocolate was too sweet so I could not taste the peppermint at all. Steam Dot was not sweet enough, more like chocolate mud.

The winners:  Starbucks in Anchorage for its  “treaty-ness” and Peet’s Coffee overall because of customer service, ambiance and superlative everything.

Product number 2:  Peppermint ice cream

The overall winner is Tillamook. Both creamy and pepperminty, you can’t beat it.  I couldn’t even find it this year!  I tried others which were just bad. Peppermint oil is very strong and cheap but some places use artificial flavor anyway, yuck! It also doesn’t have to be pink, thank you!

Product number 3: Candy canes

The expensive ones are no better than the cheap ones but I stick with peppermint or crème de menthe. Then there are those gigantic gourmet canes they sell at ACE Hardware. Go expensive if you must get a fruit flavor, pumpkin pie or coffee flavor or make some kind of impression. All the flavored ones at Fred Meyer’s are just citric acid and run off from Monsanto. Look at this $1 pack off the sale rack.

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I also keep a pack in my Subaru for earthquakes and getting lost in the wilds of Wasilla. I must have bought them a long time ago as the price reads 19 cents!

19cents

Product number 4: Peppermint chocolates.

This part of the experiment has been most fulfilling. Ghirardelli?– NO!  Too much packaging, too little peppermint. Lindt white chocolate peppermint balls – YES! Know that handsome beardless chef they have on their advertisements? Somehow the chocolate is as smooth and shiny as his face!

lindt

Chocolate peppermint bark from Walmart – okay but chocolate bark from Alaskan Sweet Things – MUCH BETTER. Walmart’s bark tastes like it could have been almond bark or toffee bark and they had some left over candy canes. It’s not even cheap. Alaskan Sweet Things is less smooth- thus less corporate, beautifully colored, tasty and uses -GLACIAL WATER, (perhaps from Anchorage taps).

I confess I would eat any of the above laying around but making your own white and dark chocolate peppermint bark is the best. See’s used to have some white peppermint truffles but I could not find them this year. They are GREAT! Andes After Chocolate Mints and York Peppermint Patties will do in a pinch.  They don’t really say “Happy Holidays!” , more like, “All I could afford was these.”

Winners:  Tie between  Lindt White Chocolate Peppermint Balls and Alaskan Sweet Things White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

Product number 5: Peppermint popcorn. Yes, it tastes good but it isn’t really worth it because as I get older everything sticks in my teeth.

Default winner: Boom Chicka Pop White chocolate peppermint popcorn

I have a headache now. Too much peppermint, sugar and Bold Italics. So much money and calories spent on research. I panicked and signed up for a “You can be a copywriter” website to increase my income and an Online Dating Site to improve my self esteem.  I wonder what the flavor of 2019 will be. Any suggestions?

Season’s Greetings from Quake Town U.S.A

I propose that Anchorage, Alaska change its name to Quake Town, U . S. A. Our current slogan is “Big, Wild, Life.”  In truth, “Big Moose/Many Gift Shoppes” would be more appropriate. “Quake Town” would capture the peril and uncertainty which most adventure travelers are seeking. Could we meet their expectations? If we have learned anything from the last earthquake I would say YES!  We could provide certificates authenticating quakes which occurred during your visit, conduct bracing earthquake drills at each hotel. auction off broken dinnerware or create desserts of ice cream with broken pieces of chocolate bark to illustrate the effects of seismic upheaval.

Perhaps this appeals to me because it is late and I can’t sleep, not because of earthquakes but because it is nearing the winter solstice.  My mind and body struggle to keep up with the increasing loss of daylight and the greyness of global warming. Yet I persist in attempting to create Christmas cheer. Behold my new lawn display:

pen 2

These exquisite creatures arrived in my driveway anonymously last week in response to my post searching for a light up snowman. Now that is the true holiday spirit! I did not know I needed penguins but now that there are three people living here and a need for both humor and earthquake detection I am convinced that there is a God.  I am the tipped over one. The sheet over the chairs is supposed to be a glacier since they looked a bit sad in the globally warmed greenery of my yard.  Here is a photo of them on active alert – triggered by the motion sensor I have them plugged into!

penguins

I also have a special aftershock detector installed in my bedroom which allows me to travel in time to a place of aliens, Time Lords and Daleks where earthquakes are the least of my worries.

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This suspended Tardis, also a gift, responds to settling tremors by absorbing the energy waves and swaying peacefully to transport my consciousness to another level. I enjoy the new Doctor very much and continued to be surprised how the writers get me to cry at the end of almost every episode.

I have tried some not so successful methods of cheering myself such as commenting on controversial posts on the internet. I do not advocate this unless you just want to wish them “Merry Christmas.” This is what I will be doing from now on so that when I receive emails telling me to “Shut up!” I will assume I have offended their religious beliefs and will apologize profusely instead of continuing an argument.

Also I attempted to make a holiday skirt out of a Christmas tree skirt which is now lying crumpled on my bedroom carpet.IMG_20181204_211620608

Although my waist is closer to 30 inches than 34, I cut the hole in the center to the latter dimension so that the skirt would hang longer and thus created a cascade of unraveling destruction. I may try to use my mini sewing machine to reconstruct the damage much as one might do after an earthquake.

Alas another fail, I attended a party yesterday and in my unbridled enthusiasm ate a wide variety of delicious foods, ignoring my previous experiences only to soil myself on the way home. Too much information?  May you all grow old a bit more graceful than I!

Here are a couple of more successful attempts at cheer.

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My new hat has met with nothing but compliments. $6 at Walmart well spent. I also purchased an outfit for my car which is modest but effective.car

I hope this will bring cheer to little children and those who are children at heart as they see it parked on the icy streets of Anchorage. ’til we meet again, take it one quake at a time!

Anxiety woman survives Anchorage Earthquake!

tipsy

Feeling a bit tipsy in Anchorage

 

I love crazy weather. Earthquakes are not really weather but they are crazy or rather they make people crazy. Most everyone in Anchorage got a shot of adrenaline yesterday at 8:30 am . If you’ve never been in an earthquake it’s like a car hit your house. But then said car, or other cars behind it, randomly ram your house numerous times during that day and evening.  Just for the record, “numerous” means  about 1000 earthquakes between 8:30 am yesterday morning and 6 pm tonight in the Anchorage area. I felt about 25 of them and at least one more after 6 pm tonight. You might think it would get boring after awhile. It does not.  I still find it humorous that at 2 am I can hear my roommate shout, “ENOUGH!”, from the other room.

I made the beginners error of trying to go to work immediately after,  (making sure my house didn’t smell like farts, and picking up my television then deciding to put it back on the floor in case there was another trembler.)  Clueless me joined the frantic but polite crowd attempting to go to work, get home from work,  to pick up kids from school,  as well as those out to check other properties for damage or to buy items necessary for the End Times.

I spent an hour stuck in traffic several blocks from my house before I heard on the radio that the highway was blocked by rocks in one direction and a broken bridge in the other. Main  roads were clogged to the max by clumps of hair like myself. It’s ten mile across town to work so I parked the car and walked home to change the tires on my bike to studs. Why be part of the problem when I can be part of the solution? I’m not an essential worker but I work at a nursing home which was bound to have a number of chachkis to clean up and residents in need of cheerful diversion. Cleaning and clowning are my specialties.

A tsunami warning went out which everyone ignored except out of state visitors who could not be expected to know that Cook Inlet is not the ocean. The roads emptied out by noon after authorities encouraged all to “shelter in place” so that infrastructure could be assessed. I packed an overnight bag including my antidepressants and anxiety meds just in case I didn’t make it back home. I wound up putting the bike in the car, just in case. I could be swallowed up by a sink hole or  be asked to stay for several days  which I would do because I have always wanted to save the world. When I finally arrived at work the building was a bit cold, considering how sweltering nursing homes usually are.  The kitchen was also down do to gas being checked. The saving grace was no computer access! I love improvising so I went about my work as usual but added a pantomime of grabbing the walls and swaying as I entered each room.

I began to understand what Donald Trump has been saying about the media. First off, I agree that when he points his finger, four others point back at him.  Also I will say that KFQD 750 AM, the radio station, was outstanding in taking calls and pointing out fake news. When people suggested that a giant aftershock was predicted at 4:35 pm or that free food and gas was being given away DJ’s hung up chanting, “SAVE IT FOR FACEBOOK!” They are my heroes.

Unfortunately the television was not set on the music station in the resident courts. Instead everyone was quakefully watching the not-quite-a disaster broadcasts. The  Anchorage media, perhaps unwittingly, fomented terror in folks by repeatedly showing the same broken bridge, rockslide and sinkhole as if Anchorage was besieged.  There was some crying, some people wanting to go home to check on loved ones. I’m sure viewers who lived far away  or who were prone to panic felt the same. A jaundiced eye could discern the same bridge shown an average of 20 times an hour with a shockingly similar car stuck on a slab , also a familiar looking boulder tumbled in the center of the highway showcased every 5 minutes.  To what purpose was this? It felt like The World Trade Centers being shown every five minutes on 9/11 only no one died here.  The information age does not mean that information sharing has matured. Television, like most adolescent corporations, sells fearful images instead of responsible information to aid in calming the public.

I know that when I’m anxious, I’ve shared stories without knowing all the facts. I expect these announcers were doing their best with their serious faces and recurring images.  It made me laugh though when I first moved to Alaska that there would be teasers for the evening news – ” Car crash on Lake Otis. Man breaks leg, more at 6 pm.”  We are a small town at heart so almost anything is big news including books falling off shelves.

After work this evening, I stopped by Best Buy to look for a particular Christmas video.  A small note on the door indicated that they will be closed until Monday in order to pick up and inventory damages.  This seems fair. What didn’t seem fair was that it was 47 degrees in December in Anchorage with winds gusting 45 MPH and the plastic carts from Target were zooming across the icy parking lot chasing people and crashing into vehicles.    I imagined my roommate yelling, “Enough again!” and I smiled.

 

 

Anxiety Woman goes to a Gun Show

I was driving to the hardware store this morning to buy a timer for my new “Let it Snow” holiday lights when I passed a sign for a gun show. I have NEVER wanted to go to a gun show until now. I had a few reasons

  1. I read Paul Theroux’s Deep South earlier this year. In it, he visits numerous gun shows to uncover parts of Southern culture with which he was unfamiliar.  I thought I might learn something about Alaska.
  2. There are many men at gun shows!
  3. I’ll try anything once.

This particular show was being held in the common room of a Catholic High School. I was not the only one who thought this strange. Everyone in the parking lot marched in the wrong direction to the church hall thinking- no it won’t be in the high school, but we were wrong. I guess The Catholic Education system needs all the friends and money they can get.

I was only slightly shaky going in, as if people could read my mind. They can sometimes read my hands so I kept them behind my back, like I was visiting a museum. ” It’s just another Holiday fair”, I told myself. “People will be happy to see you. Lighten up”, I thought.

No one was mean to me but there was no attempt to be overly friendly and no Christmas decorations or music.   They could have had some LED Holiday lights made of little pistols or a target practice booth starring Rudolph. It was a refreshing to find such a low tech affair in this season of bedazzlement. The only snacks available were man snacks – hot dogs and chips.

Yes, men.  This group was not diverse.  Everyone who ever visited my online dating profile, (and who was a real person), was in attendance. Lone, unsmiling men with not just a gun or two but with COLLECTIONS of FIREARMS are surprisingly available. I’m not saying these men were dangerous but perhaps authorities should scan my dating hits.

As Theroux noted, no one seemed to actually be buying guns. Everyone was just looking, like at a car lot. At the entrance, the historical guns drew me in. These aren’t bought for killing but for the craft and the provenance. Since this is Alaska, most of the old pistols looked Western in nature although I admit I was afraid to ask. I’m sure people don’t mind talking about things they love but I believe they like selling these items much better. I didn’t take photos either, because then I would have to ask permission and I was just getting by without pooping. That’s my default when I’m anxious. So I told myself, “It’s okay to just observe. Next time, when you’re really in the market for a killing machine, you can be more social.”

I now know what a pepper pot pistol is. It has multiple barrels like this one from http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/obsolete-calibre-firearms/rare-b-cogswell-percussion-pepper-pot-or-pepper-box-pinfire-five-shot-pistol-/prod_6305.html#

pepperpot

Army Surplus greeted me next. Ammo cans were available at low, low prices. Next came some more modern firearms and knives.  No poisons or concertina wire, stuff a murderer might want, just stuff for hunting and self defense was for sale.  A few first aid and survivalist items booths came stocked with clotting sponges and Quikclot. One vendor brought some random DVDs, cookbooks, Alaskana and costume jewelry.  I spent an inordinate amount of time at this booth even daring to touch the goods.

I got to practice restraint. Some might say I’m just a coward. I overheard conversations where I chose not to butt in and offer my opinion. One shopper began quizzing a vendor in a loud voice, ” You know what the sole purpose of the government is..?”  I was curious, in a bad way, to know the definitive answer to this one but God showed me the nature of my wrongs. The man repeated the question at least ten times before I moved on. I’m sure the vendor would have liked to have left as well.

Then there was the not so gentleman who was arguing, with a fairly reasonable salesman, about the rights of Native Alaskans/Americans.  He informed us that they were “a conquered people” and “It doesn’t seem fair” to have to pay in order for him to hunt and fish on “their” land. The salesperson did not agree and was trying to educate in a polite way so I left well enough alone.

This was worth the price of admission. I sometimes need to step back and let other people fix things or let them be unable to fix them. Also I need to not complain about being single.  The admission was $5. I paid it because that’s pretty cheap for admission to the enemy camp. Not that these people are really my enemies but at least I got a look at their weapons. I left without an emotional or physical injury and learned that Paul Theroux must have been on acid. These weren’t the folksy, funny people he showed me. Maybe if I spent more time with them, I would have seen this side but I don’t have time to give every white gun owner in town my empathy right now. It’s the holiday season, and that’s all I have scheduled for them.

I’m sure some of you have other insights to offer me. Feel free to share them in the comments but only if they include some humor. If you are short on that I may be sponsoring an Anxiety and Humor fair next holiday season. I’ll have to see if The Catholic Schools have any room for that. There will be lots of Christmas lights, music and much better food!

 

 

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Anxiety Woman cannot finish a movie

 

fall4Serenity Now!

The funny thing is, I don’t feel extraordinarily anxious but my hands are shaking, my legs are aching and I can’t seem to find a movie that does anything for my serenity. I constantly worry about the characters.  I don’t watch TV anymore. Does anyone? I even have trouble with sit-coms. I hate it when I know people are going to be disappointed or embarrassed. I’ve picked up enough lingo that I can play along with co-workers when they talk about Jon Snow. I like his coat.

I don’t mind zombies as much because they are so stupid. They are stiff, awkward, and always hungry like me. They are funny. So am I. I was just watching a WWII show. Why would I do that? People are going to be killed! I tell myself I am just a sensitive person. The truth is I am so highly strung I start to vibrate unless it is a real emergency then I calm down for some reason. Maybe because I know from history that I can’t afford to get worked up and I am much more effective if I slow down,

Then there is the news. Why would a person like myself check in on the status of the Supreme Court nomination proceedings?  That’s like taking amphetamines. Nothing good comes from it.

My body recently decided that it was too excited to process food! Once again I did not feel overly stressed but I hadn’t been sleeping much. My intestines went into crisis mode and shot everything out like a cannon.

“That should take care of things. We got her attention”, they said.

I have been eating bland food for fear of another explosion. Maybe I need to watch bland shows as well.  I sort of like documentaries about different kind of occupations like hatmakers or cider making but then these small businesses die off and I feel sad. It gets hard to tell whether being under the weather physically makes me sad and anxious or it is the other way around.

I tried making some fudge tonight. It was a disaster. It turned into chocolate caramel. I became even more rigid. So I went outside. Sometimes I have to go out and look for beauty.

I love Fall and this has been a beautiful one in Anchorage. Fall is sort of sad so that might have something to do with my mood.  Here are some fall photos I took. I’m so lucky to live here. You should visit in Fall. It’s quiet, less crowded but still alive on the streets and trails. You’re more likely to see The Northern Lights.

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That’s me and my shadow persona. The salmon are no longer jumping up the falls here at the hatchery. Instead, there are about 30 of them hunkered down under the bridge at the end of my street. Difficult to photograph when they are so shy.

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The swans are ready to leave!

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The evening light is so soft. Everyone is out walking, biking, jogging. I say hello to them all.

From writing this I’ve confirmed that relaxation is not mine to be found on the internet or in forcing activities. Serenity is more important than keeping up to date with what everyone else says is important. I have to keep my focus there or else I may spend the rest of my days in the bathroom.