However much we love the people we love, however good the hearts of those around us, especially in such trying times, it’s not a reasonable expectation to think it will always be easy, or that we will always “get it right”, just because we want to (perhaps even more than we usually do). Sometimes an otherwise comfortable moment may skid sideways, and suddenly become a challenge, or moment of conflict, hurt, or sorrow. So human.

…I could say “deal with it” or “happens to everyone”, and try to shrug it off irritably. I’m not really that person, though, and more often, I simply retreat to “sort myself out” and cry for a few minutes. Generally just some handful of tears of frustration and disappointment, sometimes tears of hurt, or tears of anger. It’s true, though; I cry over shit. I used to be very strict with myself over crying, working furiously to shut it down, stuff it into a dark corner of my consciousness, wrap it up quickly, hide it, wiping those errant tears away as quickly as I could, before anyone could see them, splash some water on my face and move on with things. It was not a helpful approach. Now? Now I just go ahead with it, generally, and cry. (I often seek out some privacy for that purpose, because I also don’t find someone else’s intervention, disapproval, need to “fix” things, or whatever like that at all helpful in those moments, either; sometimes I just need to cry.)

I only bring it up because I often feel some better after having – and experiencing – my emotional moment. It matters to be present with those feelings. To feel and acknowledge them, without shame, without guilt, can be incredibly freeing, and a big step toward restoring balance.

Things in the world are pretty scary right now. The media isn’t doing much to help with that, with the ceaseless 24/7 COVID-19 coverage painting every news story as somehow “about” that, and presenting a picture of the world that somehow suggests there is nothing else newsworthy going on, at all. It’s a weird lens through which to view the world. Eventually, it may “get to you”. Go ahead. Have that moment. It’s okay to cry over it, too. Give yourself a break if you do; it’s a very human thing, and honestly, not at all harmful. 🙂 You may even feel a bit better for a while, having giving yourself a chance to feel it.

…Then, begin again. Move on from that moment. Let it go. Grief is a real emotion. Feel it when you feel it. It does not have to own you, or make you over in a new image. You can choose to let it go, when you’re ready.

I am sipping my coffee in the studio. Starting my day. It’s another work day. Another Tuesday. Another day in the time of pandemic. My Traveling Partner wakes early. We’re both struggling with physical pain, this morning. Rainy day ahead? Maybe. I don’t give myself the time to over think it; it is what it is. Another sip of coffee, and I do what I can to let even the mundanity of physical pain “just go”. (It’s not that effective, right now, and my results definitely vary on this point.) I breathe, exhale, and relax. Just another work day in the “new normal”.

I glance at the clock; already time to begin the day in earnest. (I’ve been making an effort to keep to my usual schedule for a sense of normalcy.) Time, in fact, to begin again. 😉

Another Monday morning, and yes, a Monday morning during the time of pandemic. There will be about 1 in 7 such days, for now until whenever life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Where are you finding your joy in the spaces between news articles about COVID-19? You’ll definitely want to find a bit of joy, the weight of this health crisis is pretty significant, and in spite of that, there is still purpose in life, still small delights to experience, and still a vast expanse of human experience to explore. 🙂

If the circumstances are getting to you, and you have not already tried this next practice, maybe give it a go: breathe. Meditate. (You’ve got time at home to practice!) Take a step back from the 24/7 news cycle. Start a “sanity project” that takes up a great deal of your cognitive bandwidth, and engages your creative side in a positive way. Improve your quality of life – with what you have on hand. It’s challenging, for sure. It’s something, though, and I’m pretty sure we all need something. 😉

None of us are immune to the pandemic facing us all. Be well. Be safe. Wash your hands regularly. Practice social distancing. Stay home. If you’re thinking you’re doing “well enough”, please reconsider; approach the circumstances with a beginner’s mind, trust that there is more you don’t yet know, and do better than your best. I remind myself, too. I could do better.

The weekend was a lovely one, in spite of the pandemic. In spite of the rainy spring weather. In spite of feeling confined at home. There’s not much to say about it. I’m certainly getting better at fitting meditation time into my day-to-day routine. 🙂 I enjoy spending time watching fish swim in the aquarium, and the time I’ve been spending on maintaining it, and improving it, has been worthwhile, and satisfying. No easy distractions from the things I could be doing at home that need to be done. The results are pretty good. 🙂 The stress level at home surprisingly well-managed.

…Another Monday… another opportunity to begin again. 😀

It’s very early, on a Sunday morning. The aquarium lighting is on, but still quite dim, simulating a slowly approaching sunrise. My cup of coffee is hot, and tastes good (to me). I sip it slowly, while I wake up. I scroll through years of bookmarks, deleting those that are out of date (either because it is relevant to a topic in which I no longer have interest, or because the link itself has become a “dead link”). It’s an easy bit of housekeeping that doesn’t demand much of me. The sky beyond the window slowly changes from darkness to a dismal rainy day blue-gray. Rainy spring days are common enough around here, and I’m not complaining, just taking note.

I take a look at my supply of flavor concentrates for vape juice and reorder things I’m running low on. It’s less than ideal to discover, in the middle of mixing a batch of juice, that I’ve run out of a key component in the recipe I’m using. lol Once I’m a bit more awake, I take a look at the budget, and think over our household supplies – are we running low on anything important? Do I have to go out for it, or can it be ordered? Life in the time of pandemic; we definitely appreciate the many delivery options.

I check my list of things to do. Some housework, some chores, some projects, it is a list intended to keep me busy, occupy my time, and also deliver quality of life value to a shared experience. I smile, thinking about yesterday; I spent the day, mostly, reading. It was lovely. I sometimes find it hard to find the time, and the quiet, to read for a while. It is so worth making the time (and finding the quiet). 🙂

I look at the envelope laid with care on my laptop for later attention. The census. Maybe I’ll do that today? Good day for it, I think to myself. Why not?

I finish my coffee, sigh contentedly, and begin again.

So… okay, we’re all human beings. This “social distancing” in a climate of anxiety about wellness, disease, economic downfall, shortages, and human mortality is draining, and tests my patience. (Yours, too, I bet!) Yesterday was punctuated with a bit of snarling, a handful of cross tears, some frustrated moments… Yes, it’s hard sometimes. I sip my coffee feeling fortunate, in spite of that; it could be much worse.

I take some time to watch fish swim.

Gratitude, perspective, sufficiency, and basic mindfulness are all great tools for getting me through stressful times. They do each require that I take that step… sometimes it’s “a step back” to gain perspective, or a pause for gratitude. Sometimes it is a step forward, and a considered reflective reminder that “sufficiency” is enough. (Omg, I can’t help giggling, it’s one of my favorite little aphorisms that is also a tautology.) Sometimes, it’s just a matter of moving from one moment to another, to sit down and seek yet another moment, of stillness, of breath, and then beginning again.

You know what it isn’t, though? It isn’t “easy”. These are not easy times, and I often feel “tested”. I have some coping practices that seem effective day-to-day, but I persist in being quite human, nonetheless, and sometimes that is complicated by sharing space with another human being. We are in this very much together, and somehow still also very much having our own experience, even in these close quarters.

He games… I watch fish swim. We help each other out with projects. We tackle projects on our own. We take turns choosing video content. We both interface with the world using our phones. We connect. We interact. We take a moment for ourselves alone. No surprises here; we’re enduring the challenges with the rest of the world. Similar frustrations. Shared difficulties. Common experiences among friends and neighbors and communities and nations afar… we’re all in this together. It’s gotten very “real”, though, hasn’t it?

I have another sip of my coffee, I pause for a moment of conversation with my partner. I look at the fish, swimming in the new tank next to my desk. I check the time; the moment feels timeless, unlimited, and not anchored to any calendar events. How will I know when to begin again? lol

…I guess when I finish this coffee. 🙂

Sipping coffee on a Friday. Not thinking thoughts so much as relaxing and watching fish swim. I’ve somehow managed to start a second aquarium, on the work surface next to my desk, in my studio. lol I’m not unhappy with this, just sort of surprised that it a) happened and b) happened so fast.

…It started with my own “eagerness to please”, and my Traveling Partner’s purely observational comments about the peaceful community aquarium in the living room. I got the impression he wanted some specific change in type/color/size of fish in that tank, and I added a couple new residents with that in mind. It ended with the bullying that ensued; those new fish were not good neighbors/roommates for my peaceful community tank, and they were hassling the shrimp and the betta on the regular.

Tiny thug.

My partner and I started talking about “what to do about” those rude little bullies. Over a couple of days and several conversations, we settled on getting a small aquarium, and setting it up in my studio (where there is a place one could be set up fairly easily). The conversation had much of it’s basis, good-idea-wise, in the low cost; I had a spare heater, filter & pump, and light, left from upgrading the equipment on my peaceful community tank in the living room over the past couple weeks. Easy. Cheap. Why not? 🙂

Getting a new tank started, and preparing the water for livestock.

Yes, well… as it turns out, the small tank was easily set up, and the water prepared and ready to go quite soon… but it was so bare! So… I got some plants…

…And some shrimp…

…And a piece of driftwood…

…And a couple snails…

The view this morning is rather more like an aquarium, and less like a tank full of water. It’s a process.

…You know… that light I’m using isn’t really ideal for a planted tank (that’s why I replaced it)… so… (after some careful online shopping) the new light is on the way…

…and, um, damn, that filter/pump is pretty noisy… and takes up a ton of space in the small tank… and the heater hanging there is not all that aesthetically pleasing… so, I also found myself shopping for suitably small external canister filter-heaters. lol Oh, my.

…Looks like I have two aquariums! Each quite different, with unique characteristics (and residents), and individual charm.

Having this particular project going, while restricted mostly to life on the social-distancing-stay-at-home plan, has kept me from being “under foot” while my partner also explores his hobbies, projects, and long-term interests, himself. We each need that “bit of space”, even while enjoying the additional closeness and opportunity to connect more often, more continuously, and more deeply. We still need our “me time”. We still have our own lives. 🙂 It’s a challenging balance to strike, sometimes, but so far this feels pretty good. 🙂

I glance at the time, and at the aquarium, and then into the cold dregs of my nearly empty coffee mug. It looks like time to begin again. 😀