The alarm beeped for a while. A while. Eventually I shut it off. Turned on a light. Tried to piece together a sense of “where am I?” and “why is now?” lol I came up short on “why”, but managed open eyes and sufficient balance to get out of bed. I’m groggy again this morning. I woke yearning for the sweet sweet sensation of sleeping in, and looking forward to Saturday. I almost convinced myself it was.

I yawned through my morning routine, empty of content but still contented. My coffee seems lackluster, but I am still drinking it. Practice(s) seem pretty pointless from this perspective, but I practice nonetheless.

Some time later I sit down to write. I’m still not “awake”. So the week, an important and also overly busy one, rich with big distractions, and small disruptions to carefully selected self-care practices, slows creeps forward productively, successfully, and calmly, without requiring me to be awake upon waking. I’m managing to make much of the day-to-day turmoil look less chaotic than it feels, and I suspect most of my colleagues don’t see much evidence of stress – but the evidence is all around. I have “tells“. I look for similar tells with friends, loved ones, colleagues, strangers – part of the idea of “emotional intelligence” is a simple considerate practical awareness of not only what I am going through myself, but also what others may be going through, leaving room midst my awareness for them to actually speak about it if they care to, and my own acceptance that my assumptions must yield to their voices when they do. Those tells can be an important non-verbal signal that something yet-unspoken exists to consider.

My own stress tells are fairly obvious when you know what to look for. Well-manicured hands become torn cuticles, and bitten nails. The usual fairly carefully chosen “look” for work becomes the same sloppy favorite comfort-sweater thrown over everything, just whatever top and jeans, day after day. Others are not as easily spotted unless you are here, at home with me: there is a coffee cup on the counter, not even close to the sink, just left rather nonsensically in a location, and it is from yesterday – how did that not make it into the dishwasher?? My bed isn’t made – it usually is. My dumb bells, instead of being properly put away, were left where they were set (after the last set), in a prominent toe-stub-able location just sort of … out. Chaos creeping in. Routines slowly giving way before breaking down completely. In the office, and at home, the subtlety of seeing a choked email inbox – a rarity for me. Small things. Unavoidable – because I overlook them in the moment, completely. They shout “stress!!!” to the world, but the world most likely isn’t actually listening. We are each having our own experience.

Our tells are actually fairly obvious. Do you know/see your own? It is a simple enough thing, with practice, to notice the tells around you, of other people. It does take practice (for me). It didn’t come “naturally” in any noteworthy way (for me). Working at it, though, has seemed to result in much more satisfying relationships. Between being aware of the experience of others (as much as I am able to do so) and also practicing explicit communication in my relationships, a lot of what used to amount to drama has faded away. It’s nice. It’s been some work. There are verbs involved. It continues to be worth the effort and practice to take time to really listen to other people, to really see them, to really connect and be present.

Simple and real. I find these comfortable sustainable qualities. Well… “real” can be damned uncomfortable now and then, but in a more-comfortable-than-the-alternative sort of way (for me). πŸ™‚

I spent the evening, simple and real, with my Traveling Partner and one of our Mad Hatter friends. I invited them to dinner. Picked them up and enjoyed a lovely evening meal together, in a friendly small town setting. Before dinner I brought them to my new place and showed my partner around. After dinner, I took them back to their place, and hung out awhile, listening to travelers tales, sharing my own, and generally enjoying my partner’s company. It was good fun. There was romance, laughter, friendship, connection… There was no stress. Delicious. Cherished time spent wrapped in love.

I stayed out a bit later than ideal, though. I don’t care much about that right now, though I know it will come at a cost, and that by Friday my consciousness may be wreckage, my emotional resilience lost to reactivity, over-stimulation, and fatigue. Hair today… concert tomorrow… but Friday night I can sink into slumber, no alarm clock, and wake when I wake, and begin again on Saturday. I can do this! πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee. Count my memories like gold coins, letting my “treasure” cascade through my thoughts, a trickle, a stream, a waterfall. I’m still not awake, yet, not really, but the day begins in a satisfying way, and my perspective is merry and contented. It’s enough. I can begin again from right here… πŸ™‚