Cave Syndrome

Although I didn't know what it was called, I recognized weeks ago that I was affected. The infection rates for Covid-19 have drastically declined in my area, so many people have returned to their normal group activities without wearing masks. People have resumed attending church services, gathering for weddings or funerals, and eating in restaurants. It has been very difficult for me to switch back to normal. I learned that when someone has anxiety about getting out in public again it is called "cave syndrome."

These public gatherings were once normal activities that I took for granted. In March 2020, more than a year ago, all these things ground to a halt. Out of necessity I became a homebody. If I had to be near anyone except immediate family, I strapped on the mask. This became a new way of life for me. I didn't like it, but I thought it was something that had to be done for the greater good.

When the vaccine was offered, I took the required doses. The first time I returned to church, I wore my mask. Most of the people in the building were not wearing masks, and I came close to a panic attack. I've had to ease into re-entering the public. After such a long time of being cooped up, why would I fear doing the things I once loved? I suspect it is because I tend to be a rule follower. I accepted what the CDC said the public should do, and I did it. I followed their rules and adapted, but now it's hard to adjust to new rules. The good news is I'm doing better at being in public places, but I keep hand sanitizer at the ready. There are bound to be others who suffer from this thing called cave syndrome, but it feels like I'm the only one. Was it easy for you to transition, or are you, like me, having trouble coming out of the cave?

Photo by Ola Dybul on Unsplash



Trying to Remember

If  you are a friend or family member, I probably remember your birthday. I remember birthdays of friends from my childhood, even though we haven't had contact in years. I remember the names of hundreds of children I taught in school. My head is full of trivia that I won't likely ever need to know. I give myself credit for the ability to remember the past, however, everything that happened to me before age 5 is either missing or fuzzy.

When I think back on my early childhood, I can only recall bits and pieces. I remember dropping a glass baby bottle filled with milk on a concrete step and seeing it shatter. I must have been far too old to still be bottle-fed, because after that my parents told me my bottle was gone. Why was my baby bottle made of glass, anyway? Was I born before plastics were invented? I remember being in bed at night and listening to Daddy tell stories of his childhood. I remember my Mamaw Rowe sending me a book when I was a preschooler. These few incidents are pretty much the sum total of five years of memories. I've strained to remember more.

I don't feel quite so alone in my inability to remember the far past after reading a quote from a favorite writer. He said, "I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don't remember what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose. --P.G. Wodehouse 1881 - 1975.

These two photos are from that time of my life. I wish I could remember more about that little girl. Like P.D. Wodehouse, she must have done a lot of loafing. I'm curious how far back others can remember. What are your earliest memories?

                      Anita, about age 5

          Anita, about age 6 months



5 Favorites

 In looking back over some middle grade books I've read and enjoyed, I've made list of 5 I'd recommend to kids. These are all on my shelf and are worth reading again. All are written by contemporary authors with potentially many years left to write for their middle grade readers. Five of my favorites in no particular order are:

1. Kate DiCamillo -- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

2. R.J. Palacio -- Wonder

3. Barbara O'Connor -- Wish

4. Sara Pennypacker -- Pax

5. Holly Goldberg Sloan -- Counting by 7s

Let me know what your favorites are for kids ages 7 - 12.

Image by Khamkhor from Pixabay



Words Left Behind

During a conversation recently, a teacher friend asked me why I write. I had not expected the question, but the answer popped right out of my mouth.

"I want to leave something behind."

Afterward, I pondered on that statement. Will my writing be meaningful to anyone after I'm gone, or will my words be forgotten as soon as the last handful of dirt fills my grave? I don't know, but I'll write anyway. Somewhere along the way, whether now or later, perhaps my words will inspire, motivate, or entertain someone. Many writers have done that for me, so maybe I can do it for someone else.

Words have a powerful impact on people. They can lift you up, knock you down, or scare you silly. They can change your mood and change your mind.

The words of some authors have endured for centuries. Words give people something to hold on to when they're finding their way in the world. I believe authors should choose their words wisely.

Some words I've held onto come from voices long gone. They could not have imagined how far their influence would reach. I, too, want to leave something behind. Here are some of my favorite wise words left behind by others:

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." --Mark Twain 1835 - 1910

"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right." --Henry Ford 1863 -1947

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." --Winston Churchill 1874 - 1965

"Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are." --Theodore Roosevelt 1858 - 1919

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." --Henry Ford 1863 - 1947.

Image by Oberholster, Venita from Pixabay