Archives for category: Allegories

Are you rushing to get to work? Rushing through waking up, showering, dressing? Rushing to be out the door “on time”? Breathless with anxiety before you even start the car? Already thinking about the day ahead in such specific detail that you’ve “borrowed trouble” to fret about before you even have any in the moment?

I used to do that. I don’t now. It was a good change to make, to slow down in the mornings. πŸ™‚ Maybe not life-saving, but certainly life-changing. I went from a fairly tightly timed morning routine that took 17 minutes from the alarm clock to the click of the front door closing behind me, and reliably got me on the bus heading into town 3 minutes later (the stop was just across the street from my apartment). Any deviation from my routine put me at risk of being late to work, and I had huge issues with time, timeliness, and time management, at that time in my life (I wasn’t bad at it, just really tense and weird about it on this whole unnecessary level). Being late – or thinking I might be – was a fast track to temper tantrums and treating people poorly (myself included). It was a shitty way to live, and it didn’t make me more efficient, or even on time more often.

What do I do now? It’s pretty low tech, honestly; I get up earlier. Like, I get up a lot earlier. I get up “earlier than I need to” by quite a bit. Most variations in desired arrival time at work don’t require me to change when I get up in the morning, that’s how much earlier I get up. Right now, it’s easily 90 minutes after my alarm goes off before I need to leave, and I could as easily leave the house fully 3 hours after I wake up and still be “on time” from the perspective of a salaried employee, and I sometimes do. It’s lovely, really, to be genuinely awake when I leave for work, to be able to write at leisure even on work days, to have adequate time to dress, shower, do some yoga, and even meditate before work – and still have time to write. It puts me on the path to being my best self each day.

I got home last night tired and frustrated by feeling the cold I thought I was over trying to make a comeback. I really don’t need the hassle or inconvenience, and I sat quietly frustrated, tears of exhausted aggravation coursing down my face for some minutes. Just… tired. I skipped the company summer block party over it, too. Came directly home. No chores. No video entertainment. No music. Hell, I didn’t even pick up a book. Just sat, staring rather blankly, sipping chicken broth or tea, until I was “sleepy enough” to just go lay the fuck down and rest. I was asleep early. I slept hard. Deeply. Uninterrupted. I was irritated by the weird repetitive noise that woke me – my alarm. It took nearly a full minute to figure that out and shut it off. I turned the lamp on and off a couple times, puzzled why the noise was not stopping. lol Usually I am awakened by the subtle “click” sound that immediately precedes the alarm actually going off. lol

I definitely needed the restful night. I woke feeling more myself. Still cross about this cold trying to come back – and of course, immediately as the fucking weekend begins. That’s becoming a source of real frustration for me, lately; the weekend is my one real opportunity each week to get some legit downtime, and it’s so rare any more to just enjoy one. I’m sick. Or traveling. Or moving. Or I’m sick. Or I have tons of shit that just must get done, non-negotiable. Or I’m doing something for someone. Or I’m sick again. Or I’ve gotten injured. Or I’m traveling. Or… I need to slow down. Again. And maybe not just in the mornings. Mornings? I’ve got those down at this point. πŸ™‚

It’s a journey. No single change, no one practice, solves for X in every one of life’s equations. There are more verbs. More opportunity to do more/better, while also practicing skillful self-care, and figuring out what is actually worth doing well and more often. Being and becoming are a massively challenging jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces not yet fit into the puzzle are all jumbled up together in an untidy pile; sometimes it isn’t clear which pieces are most valuable in any particular moment. I’m still such a beginner at this being human thing!

I finish my coffee. Take a deep breath, look at the clock, and exhale slowly. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Change takes time. I mean, obviously when change is forced on us, some parts of change and changing, and certainly the requirement to do so, can hit us with real force in a very immediate way, no doubt about that. What I am pointing out is more that the skillful adaptation to change takes time. I roll with my changes as skillfully as I am able to, in the moment, but it does definitely take me some time to “get used to the new normal”. The experience of “change taking longer to get used to” is something I recognize as part of my TBI and the day-to-day realities of dealing with it, but it is also an experience most people likely have to one degree or another.

When I moved from the smaller apartment (#27) to the larger one right on the edge of the park (#59), the very specifically mirror-imaged kitchen messed with my head for months; I just kept clawing at the wrong side of the doorway for that damned light switch. It was the better part of a year before my brain finished making that change. Even with practice, some things change really slowly.

There’s a different car in my driveway this morning than there was 10 days ago. I was only getting started on getting used to commuting on transit, again. This morning, it’s back to commuting by car, but the car is different. This is no small thing, but it’s also no big deal. It’s both noteworthy and inconsequential. It likely will be somewhat different; the car handles quite differently. Sounds different. Feels different. Surrounds me differently. There are different features to learn. Different placement of some things, compared to the car I’ve been driving. Some things feel more natural than in the sedan. Other things feel quite strangely placed, as though the manufacturer “doesn’t know me at all”. (It’s mostly more comfortable and familiar-seeming than less, though, which is nice.) The new car is a first for me with this manufacturer, actually. A Mazda. Funny how much difference small changes make. They add up, too. It means driving very mindfully is a thing I need to make a point of for some time to come. I can’t really rely too heavily on implicit memory right now; I have none that applies to this vehicle. lol

One very telling thing? I regularly catch myself humming an old Queen song, “I’m In Love With My Car“,Β  when I am thinking about this car. lol It’s been awhile since I had a car that I felt that way about, myself. πŸ™‚ I’m almost excited to drive to work today. For me, with the injury I have, that also means being very mindful and present is a huge thing, especially the first few weeks driving this car; it’s my one way to keep excitement from resulting in inattention or poor judgement, which can be a common enough result of being overly eager or excited about something, for me.Β  I’m definitely excited to be driving it. So… a good choice of vehicle? πŸ™‚ I mean… it’s not a powerful luxury sedan (they tend to be a bit outside my comfort zone, and always feel sort of… huge), nor is it a fantastical beautiful sports car sort of machine (which, I’ll admit, I adore on this whole other level, but the driving of which bring out personality traits I don’t find are my best)…but, it’s every bit of the machine I find myself wanting most, day-to-day: nimble, quick, and capable of going where I want to go. I smile when I see it there in the driveway.

Some of the fun in life is about change. Every change is a new beginning. A “do over”. An opportunity to become more the person I most want to be. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad I’m getting over this head cold, too; it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I was too sick most of yesterday to maintain any excitement about the car in my driveway. Actually, when I first woke up during day light hours and noticed it there from my vantage point at the kitchen sink, I initially wondered who was here, before realizing my error and remembering the car. lol

There was a point, during the later portion of something I am inclined to call “mid-morning” (although for me it is actually, most days, well into the day because I am such an early riser), when I did feel well enough and restlessly housebound enough to want very much to go… to the store? Somewhere. I wanted to go somewhere. To feel forward momentum. To be out of the house for a few minutes. To have a purpose and direction that had to do with any else than blowing my nose again, or making yet another cup of tea, or broth. So… to the store?

I made a short list. Put clothes on. Got into the car and then I got honest with myself. I was restless, ill, and bored, and I just wanted to drive the car. lol I didn’t need anything at the store. Certainly, I didn’t need to spend the money. I pulled out of the driveway with care, and pointed the car in the direction of rural roads. I drove around, through forests and meadows and farmland, contentedly counting on GPS to get me home once I’d satisfied my desire to drive the car and be out of the house a bit. I didn’t bother with the pretext of going to the store. About an hour into that, my sinuses started itching again, my nose started running, and I started really feeling ill again. I eyed the small pack of Kleenex in the console, half gone already. Time to head home. I got home grinning from ear to ear, feeling content, and also feeling tired, ill, and ready to go back to bed.

A point in time between day and night.

I pretty much slept the rest of the day and night, waking now and then only long enough to have some soup, or tea, or re-up on symptom relieving over-the-counter nostrums and use the bathroom. So it went for the rest of the day, all of the night, and until some short time before full daylight this morning. Aside from some volunteer time on Friday, and buying the car, this entire weekend has been blown by being sick. I am, on the other hand, also exceedingly well-rested. lol

I’m sipping my coffee this morning, still feeling a bit fussy, head still pretty stuffy, but pleased that it hasn’t seemed to move into my chest (yet), which is a good thing. My coffee tastes delicious. It’s iced and also seems very refreshing. This seems, to me, to be a clear sign of recovery. I enjoy the moment, and the flavor, and also notice the colossal pile of used tissues, on the floor next to my desk, where I’ve either missed the waste basket or more likely, from the shape of the pile, and its vastness, I simple filled the basket and continued tossing tissue that direction. lol I am mildly embarrassed at the awareness that there are likely piles just like this one next to every over-filled waste basket in each room I’ve occupied this weekend, that the ennui of illness caused me to overlook and ignore. Maybe I have it in me today to tidy up a bit? (I think I might; and clearly I am well enough to notice the untidiness at this point!)

I begin to form a plan, an approach, something gently constructive to do with what is left of the weekend. I remind myself I am still sick, and won’t finish a long list – so I make a short one. The things that will bug me most to come home to, tomorrow: do the dishes, take out the trash, water the garden… I think about adding more, and decide to just stop there. Do those three things, gently. If I’ve got more in me after that, well, it’ll be obvious enough what else needs to be done. πŸ™‚ No need to force myself through a busy day needlessly, it’s still the weekend.

I finish my coffee. Roll out my yoga mat. I begin again.

 

I sip my coffee wondering why it tastes crappy this morning, and smile at the recollection of the numerous friends who would likely point out that it could be simply that it is coffee. Having a… “fondness” for (addiction to?) coffee isn’t something everyone has, wants, or seeks out. Coffee, sometimes, tastes like some rare combination of cardboard and tobacco tea. lol It’s not always flavorful and delicious, especially preferring it, generally, black. This morning, this cup of coffee tastes a bit like… coffee filter paper that’s had one cup of coffee run through it, the grounds dumped out, and then refilled with crushed dandelion stems, and some sort of bitter tea has resulted from this process. Only… I don’t really taste “bitter” in any clear way, so… just… not good. lol

…I could set it aside and not drink it, I mean, if I weren’t concerned about the headache that would come later today… or… yeah. Okay. I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would I continue?? This is addiction. It’s how it works. I take another sip of my coffee…

…I drink rather a lot of coffee, and sit with that for a few minutes, just thinking about that, and taking stock of how skillfully I am/am not managing that addiction? (Addiction is what this is. The legality is not relevant to the chemistry.) My consumption over the past year has crept up to a very steady “3 coffees”…but… it had reached a point at which those “3 coffees” were all quad shot beverages. lol Oops. That’s a bit much, and even with ensuring my consumption is all in the morning (unless willfully and explicitly to support a late night), it is enough to interfere with good sleep. I’ve already cut way back to just “3 coffees”, meaning, just three actual coffee beverages (and if any one of those is an espresso drink, it only has a double shot in it). My coffee habit, over the years, has required some vigilance. Every now and then, it’s important to notice “how bad it has gotten” and take a step back, adjust, and put myself back on track with what I am really comfortable with. I recall one point in my 20s when I literally (no kidding) walked around more or less always with a coffee cup in my hand, and drank generally nothing else.

This particular cup of coffee is actually really quite remarkably bad. Wow. If they were all likeΒ this, I probably would not drink coffee at all.

I let my mind wander to other things. My Traveling Partner somewhere out in the world… The day ahead… Car shopping… The heat of summer… I sip my coffee and enjoy the quiet morning. It hasn’t mattered whether the coffee actually tastes good, not for a really long time. Not really. Sure, the coffee thing is what it is, and what it is, is that I’m addicted to coffee. I’m even okay with that. It’s a moment. A ritual. A part of a stabilizing morning routine that begins my day slowly, encouraging me to take the time to really wake up (and helps a bit with that), before I face the world.

…It does need some awareness and management, that’s just real.

My aching back is back to being more about my arthritis than injury or muscle soreness. Pain sucks, regardless, and I welcome any lessening or reduction in it. I enjoy the moment of “feeling better” without pointing my consciousness back to the pain itself. I find that focusing on the pain, and becoming invested in the emotional experience of the pain, in the moment, tends to amplify it, and I really don’t want to add that to my day. I breathe, relax, and let the awareness of pain, generally, fade into the background. I won’t lie; it’s not a perfect solution. I still hurt. I’m just not letting pain pwn my day. πŸ™‚

I finish my coffee and look at the clock. The world goes on being the world. People are still people. Buses are still running. Commuters are still rushing across town. Work is still something that occupies far too much of the time of far too many people. Too many other people don’t have enough work to support their quality of life needs (because, keeping it real, too many jobs don’t pay a living wage at all). There is still a need for balance. There is still a search for it. Life is a process, and a verb. Active. Changing. Real. Filled with choices.

There is time to begin again. There is time to become the person I most want to be. There is time to change the world. There are verbs involved. Ready? It’s time.

Timing is a thing. It’s morning again. I’m rather aggressively slurping my coffee. There’s less time in the mornings, and I am feeling grateful that I started waking up at 4 am weeks ago (months?). I still get an hour for myself before it’s time for feet to hit pavement, and head to the bus that will take me to the office. I’m not complaining, just noting the change to my routine, and to my timing.

I exchange a few words with my Traveling Partner. I am very much missing him. I think about love for some little while. I try not to count the minutes. πŸ™‚

The walk to the bus stop is easier each day as my body gets more used to it, and my brain gets re-calibrated to the time it takes to get to work. The commute is basically doubled in duration, in both directions, and the bus is crowded in the afternoon, on the way home. I’m not surprised by these things, they are merely characteristics of the new normal.

All the way home, each evening, I consider the things I am going to get done once I arrive. I get home too tired for any of that. This, too, is familiar. Yesterday evening was fairly skillfully done. I managed to stay fully on track with my self-care stuff, and even enjoyed the evening quietly before calling it an early night and getting some sleep. I slept through the night. I woke to the alarm. Getting up was harder than usual – I really wanted to sleep on. lol I tried to convince myself it is Saturday (it’s not; it is Wednesday) and almost went back to sleep. So unlike me.

Finally acknowledging, regularly and out loud, that I have been pushing myself too hard allows me to also admit I need more rest, like, seriously. I’m looking forward to sleeping in Saturday, in spite of knowing I’m likely to wake with the dawn, anyway.

There’s really nothing profound about any of this, and the common truth of life is that much of it is mundane, ordinary stuff, lacking in profundity or significance. A good night’s rest still matters, though. A good cup of coffee (if you’re into coffee) still satisfies. Routine is routine. Average is average. Ordinary is what most moments and days are made of – that’s not only “okay”; it provides the framework to understand the extraordinary, and recognize significance of moments that are indeed profound. This morning is not that. It’s just morning. That suits me just fine – it’s enough.

I smile quietly and swallow the last of my coffee, my eye on the clock. It’s already time to begin again. More verbs. My results may vary. πŸ™‚