Breaking news

Thursday is one of two days I work from home in my frumpy clothes in the comfort of my home office.

Ending my week there doesn’t mean I work less, it just means I work in seclusion. My introverted side enjoys this immensely. If it’s warm enough, I can even work on the back patio. Perfect.

But last Thursday, rain clouds hovered. Worse, the breaking news of the morning was a tragedy close to home. My phone was going off because one of the hazards of this job is people expect you to be in the know. And you are. And you don’t want to be. Not really. Not when there is a tragic death or a sexual assault, or crime that impacts people you may or may not know.

Small towns are like that; six degrees of separation, or less. Unfortunately, numbness is not a skill I have mastered in this job.

Instead, I’ve learned to set boundaries. I don’t share details. I trust the reporters I work with to get the story right and leave it there. Gossip and speculation are not forums I will deal in. That’s what Facebook is for, and that’s anxiety-inducing enough.

At the start of this pandemic, the adrenaline and long hours made me appreciate being part of a community newspaper. And while I’m not a reporter, my role here is to be immersed in the news in myriad ways and help get that news out to you, as it happens.

I’m grateful to be employed in these difficult times, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want sympathy. But I want you to know that if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the news, well, so am I.

Thus, that morning’s tragic story broke me. I finally had enough bad news. I sat at my desk, turned off my phone and let the tears fall. I’m telling you this because maybe you need to know this reaction is healthy. It’s okay.

Sometimes you have to break down to rise up again and I’ve learned to honour the fall just as much as the climb. I’m not ashamed to cry. Let the steam out of the pressure-cooker of life. You can’t keep a resilient heart down. You can’t keep it bottled up either.

When I felt spent, I went to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of tea, then headed back to my office and got back to work. Clear the emotion, clear the mind. Carry on.

Later, a friend, also a frontline worker, invited me to pick up some cuttings from her garden.  We sat safely together in lawn chairs posed at opposite ends of her yard. Rain clouds rolled in. We didn’t care. We talked. We laughed. Time well spent. Rain drops fell, slowly at first. We just kept talking.

When the skies opened up, I was already soggy. I headed for home, three blocks away. The downpour was cold, but it smelled amazing. I was soaked to the bone, with a silly grin on my face. I splashed in puddles. Tasted the rain. I took stock of every step. Nothing had changed in my day, except my perspective. Bad news would continue. Good news would too. I have no control over either.

Resiliency is like rain. It won’t make you waterproof. You will get soaked sometimes. But a resilient spirit knows rain clouds move along. The sun is always behind them.

Every storm passes.

This one will too.

WriteOut of Her Mind