It's Monday as I write. Though I try to dodge the mind trap of first-day-back blues, I often feel, on Mondays, like someone threw doom and busyness into a blender without the lid and pressed turbo.
Our household has been plagued with twin outbreaks of fleas and lice. The washing machine runs non-stop. So do I.
If I weren't already itchy from dry skin brought on by changing seasons, the thought of creepy crawlies lying in wait for their next blood meal has sent my back scratcher into hyper-drive.
I try to put a finer face on most situations, but today, that's like putting a nose ring on a Proboscis monkey. He doesn't look any better; he looks silly.
We're told to focus on the present, because thinking about the past and future is the root of all unhappiness. Happy people hone in on positives. Sad folks brood.
But what to do when the present is sucking the life from you, select members of your household and your dog?
Beyond making lists of pesticides to buy, I'm reaching into the goodness grab bag called memories. Some are recent, like watching Master 13 with his DIY scarecrow hair play a good game of football Sunday. Later that day, Miss 15 booted a goal during futsal. The same child thanked me for my extra work bathing the dog and washing her bedding.
Remembering sweet spots does not equate to dwelling or ruminating (though many of us could medal in those activities if they were Olympic sports). Collecting memories like pearls nurtures gratitude.
It's knowing even if I itch myself to death or cook my head tonight in the dryer, I've lived a life full of friendship, family, running, writing and pasta. I've gobbled gluten by the bowlful without regret.
An Annie Dillard quote reverberates like a literary ear worm: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
I would've been mostly satisfied with Annie's argument until the parasite parade. This, too, shall pass (if I'm super-vigilant and bomb and clean and comb and wash the hell out of everything in the house). This shall pass like adolescence; like final exams; like hospital vigils and memorial services; like shoulder pads, pleated jeans and skinny ties.
Rose-coloured glasses and a silver lining magnifier are vital in the season of dwindling light. While I whinge about shorter days, a friend tells me she welcomes winter and its cosiness. It reminds me of "hygge" (pronounced "hoo-guh"), a Danish term defined as a quality of cosiness and comfort engendering a feeling of wellbeing.
I'll work on that wellbeing feeling after I purify The House of Miniature Vampires.
In the meantime, memory's joy basket holds gifts:
*Bagpipes playing recently on The Strand at sunset, while lights from two cruise ships glowed across the Harbour Bridge.
*Delighting my family with chocolate biscuit slice
*The dog, snoring, shuddering and sighing softly at my feet
*Summiting the Mount, which never gets old
*That time a few weeks ago when Master 13 woke up on his own at 6am for soccer training
*Reading about our Prime Minister paying for another mum's groceries after the mum forgot her wallet
*Finding my own wallet, which I feared stolen, wedged between my car's passenger seat and door
*Being proud of my adopted home and its leader who's articulate, savvy about domestic and world affairs, and has shown grace and strength during the country's darkest hour
*A half marathon Sunday where a friend's encouragement provided virtual wheels beneath my aching legs. She stuck with me until the finish, though she could've surged ahead
*Sharing a laugh with a very sick friend whose company I cherish because she's bright and tells good stories
*Making autumn's first pot of chilli and eating it with crusty, cheesy bread.
I hope to reach hygge status soon. For now, there's more bedding to wash, floors to vacuum and sofas to clean. Tonight, I'll curl under my newly-washed blanket, back scratcher in hand, remembering this too, shall pass.
Dawn Picken also writes for the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend and tutors at Toi Ohomai. She is a former TV journalist and marketing director who lives in Papamoa with her family.