Wordy Wednesday

Welcome to another edition of Wordy Wednesday, where I share a word I really like!

Today that word is: sophrosyne.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: sophrosyne is a noun that comes from the Greek sōphrosynē, from sōphrōn being of sound mind, prudent, reasonable (from saos, sōs whole, safe, sound + -phrōn; akin to Greek phrēn mind) + -sȳnē, suffix used to form abstract nouns.

Sophrosyne is an ancient Greek concept of an ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind, which when combined in a well-balanced individual leads to other qualities, like temperance, moderation, prudence, purity, and self-control. 

Sophrosyne was one of the good spirits to escape Pandora’s box and abandoned mankind in her flight back to Olympus.

Sophrosyne is considered the opposite of hubris, which is excessive pride or arrogance, especially the kind that clouds judgment.

An example: “Though some of her initial ideas were unrealistic, she maintained her sophrosyne that prevented her from pitching anything too crazy.”

Remembrance Day

In 2000, I was in 5th grade. In November of that year, we were tasked with memorizing the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. On Remembrance Day, each one of us faced the class and recited the poem.

All these years later, I remember the words.

Today stirs up a lot of feelings. My dad joined the Canadian Armed Forces when he was 18. He was inspired by his own father’s service; he wanted to help people and make the world a better place.

So I grew up on military bases around Canada. I knew my dad had a very important job. His job took him away from us for months at a time. As I got older, I would hold back tears during the schools’ Remembrance Day ceremonies. I thought of the times he was in war zones; the times he came back but some his friends and colleagues didn’t.

I remember when he was overseas in Afghanistan. I would hardly breathe when the news came on TV, waiting to see if his name and photo would flash across the screen.

The first time I saw my dad cry was when he said goodbye to us before his second tour. I was a teenager, and I did my best to hold it together for my parents.

He is retired now. I know that as a combat engineer and EOD specialist, he saw and experienced some (or a lot of) very bad things. He doesn’t talk about it.

So on Remembrance Day, I am thankful to all soldiers for their service. I hate that they experienced so many awful things; I hate war. All of the senseless death and destruction makes me physically ill. I hate that war is so often viewed as necessary.

We can do better.

Feeling It

The days are getting shorter. My favourite time of year is upon us! I love being able to go outside and feel a cool breeze. I’m not uncomfortably hot, I’m not uncomfortably cold – it’s perfect.

I like to take my puppy, Bailey, on long walks, letting her sniff and explore to her heart’s content. She’s endlessly curious and makes me smile every day.

Look at this face!

Every day is a fresh start. I’m really trying to be present in each moment.

Vision

COVID-19 anxiety has taken up so much space in my brain. I’m worried about getting sick, I’m worried about my family members getting sick, I’m worried worried worried. On top of the ‘regular’ anxiety I deal with, every day. I feel like a live wire, buzzing – this feeling of trepidation is always there, either at the forefront of my mind or swaying in the background, waiting to eat up everything.

I feel like my creativity has been sucked dry. I have no inspiration. No characters, no plots, no scenes – nothing.

This survival mode has killed all inspiration.

I’m still able to focus on and enjoy reading novels, thankfully. That’s one outlet I treasure.

I have a few drafts saved here on my blog. I’ve tried writing it out in different ways; I’ve tried writing about other topics.

But I’m overwhelmed. I’ve been overwhelmed before, of course, for loads of reasons, most magnified by depression and anxiety. But this is a different variety of ‘overwhelmed.’

Our world, our society, is changing so rapidly. We all feel it in different ways, some more than others. It feels like something big is coming to a head. Like a train that’s too late to stop.

I’m trying my best to be strong and brave for my child. I still try to be as frank and honest as possible; too much sugar-coating never helped any of us. Above all I make sure she knows I love her and I am her soft place to fall, as well as her fiercest protector. She and her friends are inheriting an uncertain future. Hell, we all are.

Amidst everything, I want to be positive. Stay hopeful. Continue to be loving. Change is never easy. In fact, it’s usually wretchedly hard.

So I can’t beat myself up too much about my lack of creativity. The spark is still there, I know. I do feel it, however fleetingly.

Wordy Wednesday

Upon waking from an impromptu 5+ hour nap (oops), I’m hungry (that’s what happens when I sleep through dinnertime; I’d rather sleep than eat – which is a topic for another day!)

But it brings me to a word that I like very much: edacious.

Edacious is an adjective, meaning 1: having a huge appetite: ravenous. And 2: excessively eager: insatiable. Some synonyms include: esurient, rapacious, ravening, ravenous, voracious, wolfish gluttonous; given to excess in consumption of especially food or drink.

Wordy Wednesday

Today’s word is sempiternal.

The word means eternal and unchanging; everlasting. Its origins are from Late Middle English: from Old French sempiternel or late Latin sempiternalis, from Latin sempiternus, from semper ‘always’ + aeternus ‘eternal’.

But in philosophy there is a distinction between eternal and sempiternal. Eternal implies something that is infinite outside the bounds of time, like God, while sempiternal is a more earthbound way to talk about forever. 

“The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, … to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why….”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wordy Wednesday

I came across the word ‘sough’ (pronounced suhf) recently. I wrote it down and looked it up immediately.

From a definition page:

verb: sough; 3rd person present: soughs; past tense: soughed; past participle: soughed; gerund or present participle: soughing

  1. (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound.”the soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches”

noun: sough; plural noun: soughs

2. a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound as made by the wind in the trees or the sea.

From Middle English swoughen, from Old English swōgan; akin to Goth gaswogjan to groan, Lithuanian svagėti to sound.

Example from literature:

“The sough of the wind and the fleeing cloud of night was all they saw or heard.”

The Dew of Their Youth by S. R. Crockett

Scratch

As writers, we know the hardest thing to do is to write.

I hold myself back. I acknowledge this. I am a procrastinator, through and through. “I’ll do it tomorrow” is a staple in my vocabulary. “I’ll write in my journal tomorrow.” “I’ll write a paragraph for a story idea tomorrow.”

Joke’s on me, right? Tomorrow never comes.

In these uncertain times, my usual anxiety is heightened; I feel scared, irritable, sad, angry, and numb, in the space of minutes. My emotions swirl around in a wheel, the colours all mixing and bleeding into each other.

I overeat all day, or I don’t eat all day.

Control is vital to me. It is a main source of my anxiety, it’s why I’m scared of flying on airplanes, it’s why I’m an annoying passenger in vehicles – I’m not in control so I can’t relax. But I can control food. I can’t control if my family members will get sick during this pandemic, but I can restrict my own eating. I can binge and shovel food into the gaping hole made of anxiety and stress and fear until it’s (very temporarily) filled and buried.

The current state of the world is wreaking havoc on my brain, body, and soul. No doubt about it.

I have a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist next week, thankfully. I was doing pretty well three months ago, when he last saw me. I’m looking forward to telling him what’s going on inside me. It will be a tiny bit of relief.

I have no support system; I have no one to lean on, no one to go to for advice or comfort.

I carry burdens by myself. It’s so heavy all the time. Crippling.

And yet… I continue to stand and move forward. Sometimes I stagger; sometimes I take a few steps back. I fall and scrape my knees and palms and cry.

But I get up. I always get up.

Hope is there; hope is all around us, you know.

2020

I’ve always loved the idea of new beginnings. Fresh starts. Next chapters. The thrill of reinvention, rebirth; wiping the slate clean.

We, as humans, give time meaning. We have followed the movements of the moon and the sun and other stars for as long as we have been on earth. The sunrise always means a new day, a time to start again. So does spring. All living things have a season – us included.

2020 feels special to me. I am so aware of my patterns now, both the destructive ones and the positive ones, and I am looking forward to actively and purposefully making changes.

I need to let myself breathe. I need to be just fine with existing. I am not worthless because I don’t have a job. I am more than my depression; I am more than my anxiety. I am allowed to rest without feeling guilty.

I am doing the best I can with what I have.

I cannot control others, and that is okay. I only control what I do and what I think. I want to embrace others and see them for who they are, not for what they can be or who I want them to be. This part is difficult, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. I have fallen in love with others’ potential so many times, it’s kind of embarrassing. But now that I see this so clearly about myself, I can actively work toward accepting people as they are.

I also know I can’t be hopeful and optimistic all the time. Cycles exist for a reason. Even with medication and therapy, I have dark days. Sometimes I feel bogged down and sad and grey. For me, ‘pushing through’ with a smile just doesn’t work. So, when I can, I let it hurt. I feel the blackness, the loneliness, the despair.

The sun pokes through eventually.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Mettle

My emotions have been VERY BIG lately. Overwhelming. A towering wave crashing over me, again and again, not caring that I’ve fallen over and I’m struggling so bad to get back up. I feel sad. I feel lonely. I look back over this year and I dwell on the things I should have done, the things I didn’t do. The negatives seem to outweigh the positives, but as I want to be more forgiving to myself, I’ll list the positives:

  • The creative writing course I completed
  • Ending a romantic relationship that was headed nowhere
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • Making an effort to build new friendships
  • Practicing patience in the face of frustration

I have a physical journal that I keep. It’s leather-bound and quite beautiful. It was a gift to myself in the spring of 2016, to honour the ending of a chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one (as a single woman for the first time in almost a decade and as a mother). I have to be in a special sort of mood to read the oldest entries. I’d love to give that version of myself a big hug. I fell in love with someone, in those early days – someone selfish, controlling, and utterly broken inside – and the thing he said he admired most about me is my perseverance.

The concept has stuck with me: to persevere. I’ve felt so low, so terrible, so bleak. I’ve wanted to give up so many times. I get so exhausted and don’t want to fight anymore.

But I do. I’m here to stay.

So, dear reader, I hope you’ll stay too. Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Take time to huddle close and feel some warmth; be kind to yourself and to others.