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  • Writer's pictureJeana Noel

Tough Days, Soft Hearts

"I stepped in cat vomit," a voice murmured from the other side of my bedroom door. I looked at the clock, 6:35 am. I swallowed a groan and instead went to the door. "I can help," I said brightly. As Ajuga and I walked into the kitchen, we saw Bluebell was already awake and standing in front of the stove preparing his usual cup of tea. Boiling water was spewing from the tea kettle spout and splashing onto the element below. Hisssss! "Whoa, there," I said, turning it off. As I reached for a mug, it slipped and fell to the floor, shattering loudly. Sigh. It was just barely Tuesday morning, but it already felt like it was going to be another Monday.


It was day 2 without Jonquil, our spirited and experienced leader (he's been working at Camphill for 11 years now). "We've got this, don't worry about us!" we had reassured him when he left. Little did we know what was in store for us all during his absence.


Ajuga started having anxiety induced stomach aches and refused to eat. Calendula was also feeling under the weather and had to be taken to the doctor. Bluebell had two minor seizures. And Chrysanthemum, well Chrysanthemum was his usual quiet jokester self. Stress levels were high and patience levels were low…it seemed as if we had all stepped in proverbial cat vomit that week.


Everyone has tough days... days when we don’t feel 100%, days that leave us spent as if we were battling for our lives. Days we just want to roll over and snuggle deeper into the comfortable coziness. But we move forward. We get out of bed. We show up. And somewhere along the way something shifts. The cat vomit dissipates and life resumes its normalcy.


Sure, those tough days help us grow, but they also allow us to appreciate the normal and amazing days! We can pause and reflect on all that’s going well and express gratitude for the wonderful people who love and support us. Because boy, when life gets challenging, it's the perfect opportunity to lean on your support system.


Similarly, those rough days can be teachable moments…fostering new perspectives of those around you. In our house that week, I tried to see beyond people and their challenging behaviors...and hoped that they would do the same towards me. (We’re all doing the best we can!) I tried to focus instead on what their challenging behavior might be saying about the state of their heart or mind.


For example, Ajuga’s stomach aches were caused by anxiety since an integral member of our house was gone. Someone who helps him regulate when he starts spiraling. He might have been anxious and lonely without Jonquil. Whenever he started pacing the house nervously, we took walks and bike rides together. Often coming home a little more relaxed.


Everyone in the house pushed in a little more, offering space and grace. We all looked beyond the present challenges and relied on one another for help, a reassuring smile, walk or shared laugh. And we made it through. Somewhere midweek things reverted back to “normal.” Ajuga started eating again, Calendula started feeling better, Bluebell bounced back and Chrysanthemum…well, he continued his love language of teasing. With softened hearts we can allow those around us the freedom to have challenges, knowing that they’ll do the same for you.



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