Personal Demons

Winter has been difficult this year on many levels.  There's the cold, the feelings of isolation, the issues with snow removal not to mention accidents, sore muscles, snow blindness and all those personal demons that rear their ugly heads when we are not at our best...  Usually, I do well staying "up." However...

The last week we accumulated over two feet of snow in three days.  Flashbacks to my life on the Air Force base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP) came flooding back.  Literally, my heart has been racing, palms sweaty, nerves on edge.  Snow reaching the first floor windowsills somehow opened the door for the demons of my past.

Enchanted Cottage after the February 2011 storms

The UP can be breathtakingly beautiful.  On the other hand, it can be heartbreaking, too.  With an average snow accumulation of 200 inches (5 meters!), the UP overwhelms the senses.  Just to get there you cross a huge suspension bridge that is nearly five miles long spanning the Straights of Mackinac.  

I crossed this bridge during a winter storm with white-out conditions.  The scars from gripping my prayer beads can still be seen in my palms! 

Mackinac Bridge in a snowstorm, during high wi...
Image via Wikipedia

Mackinac Island Bridge - Nearly 5 miles long
Living 5 1/2 winters in the UP gave me ample opportunities to develop survival skills as a young mother.  Survival skills include learning to chase or at least keep your personal demons at bay.  

When the snow fell, I became creative.  I would bundle the babies and myself up to go outside for at least 15 -20 minutes each day.  Fresh air and sunshine, when there was some, became a daily requirement like vitamins.  In addition, I socialized as much as possible with neighbors and friends.  Sometimes, my neighbor Elizabeth, an amazing artist in her own right, would come over for tea in the morning with her two girls and stay until bedtime.  Elizabeth and I would sip tea, sharing life stories as the girls played contently (most of the time) in their room.  

To say that tea and sympathy saved both of us from losing our minds during the winters in the UP might be hyperbolic to some, but it honestly did.  Our friendship has lasted over thirty years, through numerous moves and life changes.  We have stayed in touch through letters, occasional phone calls and the knowledge that we shared a special time in our lives together as women.

Another friend from those days was Fran Miller, a teacher par excellence!
Fran had two daughters who would play make believe with my girls for hours on end, while we would drink tea, solving world problems as we encouraged each others abilities to write and teach. 

In addition, Fran and I shared Irish heritage, so stories of pixies, elves and fairies were part of both our family's lives.  Like Elizabeth, Fran and I kept in touch until her death from cancer, recently.  Often, we would talk about our days in the UP, remembering the trials as well as the triumphs.

Like the women who crossed this country in covered wagons and on horseback, we gathered around each others kitchen table.  The warmth of our tea cups, conversation and friendship kept us from the cold and isolation of the unforgiving elements outside the front door.  These were good memories.

 Sun through the Trees in Western Massachusetts 2/11

Funny how something as simple as snow reaching the windowsill can trigger memories filled with emotions.  As the demons began roaming through the Enchanted Cottage looking for a snack, I quickly gathered my demon fighting tools.

First thing, I prayed.  "Dear God, help me to make it through this day." This was my mantra as a mother all those years ago in the UP.

Next, I went for a walk.  OK, so I only went down the end of the driveway and back, but it was outside in the fresh air, which I breathed in deeply.

Finally, I found things to do that were creative...cover a cushion, write a poem, re-arrange the furniture, write in my journal...anything that would spark the endorphins to work.

Heading Out on My Cross Country Skis

The good news is the demons are now sitting outside the Enchanted Cottage looking in.  They won't go back to their caves for a bit, I know, but at least they aren't in here driving me to distraction.

Fighting personal demons is a task we all face from time to time.  May you remember that you have the tools to keep them at bay.  May you be blessed with good memories of times that brought you friendship and love.  And, May you remain strong in spite of whatever comes your way.


Personal Journals: Recording the Good, the Bad and the Mundane
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Eliza said…
OMG this made me cry. I know exactly where you are at. Not because snow causes me flashbacks. I am Canadian after all :-) But because for the last month of sun deprivation and constant sniffles and coughs I have been completely out of sorts. Nasty little demons of ridiculous self-doubt have been clinging to me, like needy children.

No more! I did a huge card reading for myself, and then did some serious journaling. I decided that from this moment forward I will be who I know myself to be.

POOF. The nasty little beggars disappeared. Likely sulking out in a snowdrift, but that's their problem. Me? I'm safe and warm and happy inside :-)
Linda said…
I hope they stay outside, Eliza. I know mine have been banging on the door all day, but I am blogging, and sewing and dreaming of my spring flower beds!

Wendy Helmer said…
I remember thinking on the day you posted the photo of the enchanted cottage in the snow about your time living in Michigan and the stories you told us. I'm sorry that you have had a hard time but I am also impressed by your ability to cope, survive, and overcome. I appreciate you and I appreciate your sharing. I may not have said it often enough but I get a lot from your writings, your blog, reading your feelings, etc. We were just reflecting (again) today on how grateful we were to you resubmitting Kirsten's application for grad school. You have been and continue to be very important to us on our road through western mass. All my love, Wendy
Linda said…
Thanks, Wendy! Some people are meant to come into your life...actually, return to you. We are from the same soul family. I know this in my heart. I am so glad that Kirsten and you got to come to Western Mass and be part of our extended family. We love you, too!
Debbae said…
traces of Grace... and Grace, my fears released. Thank you.
Linda said…
Thank you, Debbae! Grace is Amazing!

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