Restorative and fortifying

Dear President Trump,

I feel like I must have told you about our weekend wake-up issues at some point over the last nearly three years so if this is old news, I apologize. The deal is that over the years I’ve trained the dogs to expect their breakfast sometime between 5 and 5:30 a.m. as this is when I get up during the week. Just like Lady in Lady and the Tramp, they don’t distinguish between weekday and weekend mornings so the latest they’ll tolerate waiting is about 6:15 (and that’s after much shushing). Given that it’s me who set this dynamic in place, I really should be the one who always gets up with them on the weekends so I’m not proud to say that I often will wait Laura out to see if she’ll get tired of the whining and get up with them.

This morning, though, I stepped up and got up with them around 6. After they ate we went outside for the initial morning pee/poop and as often will happen when I’m a little bit of a good thing, I got a little reward of sorts. I was waiting up on the porch to see if I really needed to go down into the yard (which I eventually did need to do) when I heard a low bird chirp. It was still pitch dark out so I thought I must have been mistaken since there are hardly ever birds up before dawn, but then there was another chirp and I spotted a fat little wren or chickadee on the neighbor’s fence. It was oriented in my direction and seemed to be looking at me, like it was trying to get my attention (reminiscent of another Disney movie even though I am not at all a Cinderella type). Finally, it gave a third chirp and then flew off out of sight. In keeping with this morning vibe, when I was doing the breakfast dishes I was rewarded with some puffy pink clouds out our window to the East. Really, quite a nice way to start the day.

Laura and I then took the dogs to Magnuson Park. We’ve had family in town plus the usual holiday stress-y stuff so we decided that being out there tromping through the woods, noting the latest beaver activity and catching sight of beauty berry bushes (the white berry variety) was both restorative and fortifying. I’d not thought before that an activity or situation could be both, probably because I rarely think of things as being fortifying even though tons of activities are, and tons of activities are really both (including writing to you every day).

There are lots of different meanings of both “restoration” and “fortification” (think “restorative justice” or “restoration hardware” and “fortified with vitamins and minerals” or “the fortification should hold against….”), but I’m focused here on how they might pertain to a person’s, or even a community’s, well-being. So in this sense, restoration connotes a return to an even keel or an ok homeostasis, which is obviously critically important when depleted or stressed. Fortification, on the other hand, connotes girding or building up from normal in order to face what is likely to be a stressful situation that carries the risk of being depleting. So really, they complement each other very nicely and I’ve decided to work on noticing activities and situations that are inherently both and to also try to be instrumental in arranging things to be both. I’m going to practice this for a bit, but I’m thinking it may be a good enough idea to share with patients at work. We’ll see.

In the meantime, here’s a blessing that I hope is both restorative and fortifying:

May we be safe in what befalls us and in our actions.
May we be willing to set conditions that are restorative.
May we take care of our individual and collective well-being with thoughtful fortifications.
May we make peace with the constant need to recalibrate, to reset.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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