Archives for category: Anxiety

Don’t forget to enjoy what’s good about living life. Simply that. Please. Yes, reflect. For sure, honor those who were lost. Just… also live in this moment, and embrace what’s good, what’s working… enjoy and celebrate and make merry. Every day. Love with your whole heart. Forgive what can be forgiven (and that’s mostly all the things) – and make sure that you forgive yourself, too. Breathe. Relax. Hug someone you love. Tell a silly joke. Be okay, because even that becomes a practice. Let go of what you can let go of. Set down the baggage that’s grown too heavy to bear – if you can. Speak kindly. Speak gently. Lift others up instead of knocking them down.

Yesterday afternoon went sideways pretty abruptly. I guess I’m not surprised looking back on it. I triggered him, and he triggered me… or maybe the other way around? I don’t know. I just know I didn’t manage to pull out of that tail spin, and the the whole mess lingered in my consciousness through the night. I am unwilling to catastrophize it now… relevant to things that could go wrong, it was a small thing. Harsh words. Tears. I definitely wanted to do better than I did. I need more practice. I certainly wasn’t my best self.

My morning coffee is ordinary. The day ahead stretches beyond this moment without any agenda beyond being a better lover and a better friend. There’s a lot to contemplate about getting those things right.

I sip my coffee and queue up a video my Traveling Partner shared with me during the night, and raise my mug in a silent moment of remembrance to fallen brothers and sisters at arms. Memorial Day. The dead have no chance to live their lives well, or to become the person they most wanted to be. I do.

It’s time to begin again.

I still struggle with deal with live with (cope with?) anxiety. My anxiety woke me this morning. Unpleasant way to wake up too early, although, I will say that anxiety and being groggy don’t co-exist – so I definitely woke up fully, all the way awake. lol The newly added acoustic treatment in the house (in my studio, in the echoing hallway, in the living room where we listen to music) has the added bonus of allowing my Traveling Partner to sleep through my wakefulness, so… win? It at least amounts to an improvement.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I sip my coffee feeling my anxiety begin to recede. What sparked it? I’m not sure, and it’s not always necessary to do a detailed “root cause analysis” – doing so often seems to prolong or increase the anxiety itself, rather than diminish it. It just doesn’t do to give anxiety too much “attention”. Anxiety is an attention whore. Anxiety is liar. Fuck anxiety. LOL I breathe, exhale, relax – and feel the physical details of my morning anxiety continue to dissipate. At this point, I suspect my waking anxiety was nothing more than a physical experience of attempting to sleep through the warning signs of mild gastro-intestinal discomfort. I similarly experience heightened anxiety if I wake feeling nauseous, unaware – at least initially – that I am potentially going to vomit. Anxiety reliably wakes me – and my brain certainly knows this.

Aside from my anxiety upon waking, it’s been a lovely morning. I woke, took care of biological needs, took time to meditate, dressed and went for my morning walk. I returned home from a lovely walk filled with birdsong, blooming roses, and rose-tinted clouds as the sun rose, had a shower, and made an excellent cup of coffee – with enough awareness still left over to notice that I probably would do well to get more coffee beans today (instead of tomorrow). I find myself wondering what would be nice for dinner, tonight? I think about the tomatoes I planted last week, and the irrigation my Traveling Partner provided them – he knows that the greatest risk to any garden of mine is that I will run out of energy on hot days, and fail to water them reliably. Problem solved.

Lately we’ve been working on a variety of household projects intended to improve our quality of life by addressing some personal needs – like noise sensitivity (so, acoustic treatments for that), and light/dark/shadow quirks and personal preferences for qualities of light that can influence emotional states (so, installing modern programmable, controllable lighting with features that reliably create suitably comfortable environments for the human primates living within). It’s pretty mind-blowing to have these options, instead of feeling limited to some dismal, single, bare, rather depressing yellow-y, overhead bulb in a dusty or broken fixture (honestly, it’s been a long damned time since I had that to deal with, but the memory lingers on in my emotions and sense of comfort). My partner gets something out of doing the projects – we both benefit from the results. I enjoy the almost magical fairytale experience of stepping out of my office on a break to discover some new wonder of quiet, or lighting.

…Today I’m trying out a style of wall switch, as I work…

…Work. Right. Another work day. I’m not fussing or discontented. I like this job. I enjoy working with this group of colleagues. I know it’s a good fit for me; it’s not easy. It’s a stretch for every skill, every day, though, and that’s cognitively fatiguing, leaving me pretty drained at the end of each week. It also finds me a bit more skilled and a bit more developed, at the start of each new week. So… another win? There’s certainly a bit of juggling involved in finding something like “work/life balance” right now… there are days that I suspect, left on my own, I’d just continue working long into the evening (so unlike me) because the work matters, and I find it engaging enough to be almost entertaining at some points. This is new for me. I explore it gently, finding ways to make use of this heightened emotional investment in doing well, without undermining my actual wellness.

The world continues to turn. Sometimes my stomach along with it; I am appalled, every day, at new reports of human cruelty, violence, and hate. I want to cry “where did this come from?!” – but I’m aware it’s been with us all along. It’s in our primate make-up. We are not truly domesticated. We are not as civilized as we would like to be seen to be. I take a breathe and exhale, reminding myself that I can do better, individually, at least – and take steps to be my best self, and to be the change I want to see in the world. If nothing else, I can at least do that. We’ve each got to begin somewhere.

Has it “all gone terribly wrong” for you? Been there. I suppose sooner or later I may be there again. I can only suggest that you begin again. Yes, and again after that if need be. Stop. Take stock. Breathe. And begin again. And again. And again. Incremental change over time will add up. Choosing, in some small way, to be and do better than the last time – it’ll add up. Like adding acoustic treatment to a noisy house – one room at a time. Or changing out old incandescent lighting for modern LEDs – one bulb at a time. Room after room. Change after change. Choice after choice. It adds up. It doesn’t always feel like progress when progress is slow… but seriously? We get to our goals in steps. One step at a time, one choice at a time, one new beginning at a time. 🙂

It’s time to begin again. Today, I may not change the world, but maybe I can change the person I am, and become more the person I most want to be? One moment at a time.

My Traveling Partner is quite human, but he’s also right about a great many things. 🙂 I definitely needed this break! He was right about that. My boss must have agreed, because he encouraged me to head out even a bit earlier than I’d planned to do, on Friday. It was a lovely extra, too; I spent the morning with my Traveling Partner, instead of working, before I headed for the coast for the weekend. We enjoyed our morning coffee together. Talked about garden plans, home improvement plans, and how much we would miss each other. 🙂

…I have greatly enjoyed missing my partner for a couple days. I do miss him, though, with my whole heart – he’s rarely more than a heartbeat from my thoughts – and I am ready to return home, to his welcoming embrace… to my own bed… my own shower… our pleasantly comfortable little home… the merry wave of a neighbor… and, omg, the mild lovely Spring weather. LOL (It’s been rather uniformly gray at the beach, this weekend, amusingly enough.)

The Alchymist finally in the ground (it’s been almost 10 years in a container).

…I wonder if The Alchymist finished opening up the blooms on the long graceful bud covered cane I’ve been watching with such delight? I wonder how my tomatoes (planted just last week) are doing? I sip my coffee and think about love… and lunch. For all the ordinary things I miss, right now, there’s also this awareness that I was missing out on a lot of the joy in them, because my brain was just so fucking fatigued, and my “buffers” so overloaded I could not process new information easily, or even just “find my joy” in simple pleasures. Too tired. It wasn’t a physical thing at all. My partner’s well-wishes as I prepared for the weekend away had included something very telling – he said “have fun being bored!” He gets it; I just needed to put shit on pause. Like, for real, just “stop everything” and chill. Walk. Nap. Write – maybe. Paint? Maybe. I came prepared with watercolor gear and sketchbooks… I never touched any of it, nor opened my Kindle to read. LOL

…As it turned out, I mostly just walked, and napped. LOL I meditated, sitting on the shore, listening to the waves approach and recede. Listening to the wind in my ears. I sat on the balcony of my hotel room, watching the ocean be an ocean, and listening to the passing seagulls ask about my day. I gazed into the milky gray cloudy sky for hours. Now and then I ventured out to walk along the beach again. Mostly, I spent time with my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own experience, without judgement or attachment or assumptions or expectations or inflicting any sort of demands upon myself. It was time I needed.

Chilly, windy, and gray

You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t paint. I didn’t sketch. I didn’t go out for fancy meals or explorations of the retail scene. I didn’t interact with many people. I didn’t have much cause to use words aloud or hear the sound of my own voice, aside from a couple welcome phone calls with my partner. I simply did the thing I needed most; I embraced the solitude and quiet, and let myself “catch up” mentally, and get some cognitive rest. Funny thing, although I was initially a bit disappointed about the gray coastal weather, I realize looking at it now that it was quite perfect for the need; almost featureless unexciting skies, and the ceaseless somewhat uniform sound of wind and waves didn’t add any “excitement” or eye-catching wonder to the vista beyond the balcony. 🙂 It was as a neutral canvas, blank, and ready to be painted upon with my choices.

…I say that, though, about the skies and the weather, as if it is “true”, solidly real, and “final”. It isn’t a complete picture at all; it’s subjective, and quite selective, as far as recollections go. It’s equally true that yesterday the afternoon was quite sunny (although the massive cloud bank that had wrapped the shoreline Friday – and again this morning – appeared only to “pull back a bit”, and never wholly dissipated). 🙂 Funny how that works. I am reminded how much of my individual experience is created within my own head – and how real that still feels. It’s worth being aware of that; it gives me so much power to change my experience of my life. That’s a lot of power.

What is also true.

I’ve finished my coffee. It’s still quite early. There is ample time for another walk along the beach before I return home. Time, even for another coffee. 🙂 There is, too, time to begin again. 🙂 I feel much more ready for that than I have in awhile. 🙂

The work day is behind me. The afternoon sunshine illuminates the room through the shade, casting a diffuse blue-gray hue to the entire room. I am relaxed. Calm. Mostly fairly comfortable, physically. I feel my Traveling Partner’s stress and aggravation radiate through the house; I am aware of him, without being part of the experience right now. We had, earlier, enjoyed a celebratory moment of shared joy; he had completed a ton of work on fine-tuning our sound system and home theater, a project that we are both excited about (having a shared love of music and movies). It sounded amazing!

Later, shortly before I finished my work day, my obviously frustrated partner leaned into my studio to tell me he’d had to turn off a component to do something – and all those painstakingly determined settings that resulted in such great sound? Gone. Apparently they don’t save. I can only imagine his frustration – so much went into that! He got it done in the context of being considerate of my noise sensitivity, and is now faced with doing it all again, after assuring me he was done with all that. After I got off work I figured I’d hang out and enjoy his company while he finished off the resetting of settings and all that… It’s not that simple, is it? We’re humans, being human together, enjoying our shared experience of being individual beings. I’m not helping by hanging out – however supportive I want to be, however relaxed I feel myself, however much joy I take in his company, right now, the simplest of truths is that he’d like to handle this without the added anxiety of worried about my noise sensitivity or other “high maintenance bullshit” (my language, not his). I even get it. So… A good time to write? I guess so.

I sip on a bottle of water, thinking about how easily we become fused with each other’s emotional states. Not just him, not just me, it’s more of a human thing – most of us experience it, at some point. We become invested in that other person’s emotional experience for whatever reason, and it becomes “part of who we are”, ourselves. I suppose in some circumstances that could be useful. As individual, independent, autonomous, equal free-will adult human beings it’s often far from being “helpful”, at all. I avoid emotional entanglements of this sort, when I notice it in time to do something different. Another room. Another task. A different place. A book to read. Something that is more about me, and less about that other person, for a little while. No hard feelings. No regrets. No embarrassment… Just good self-care.

I hear music in the other room. A moment later he puts his head into the room, “I’m finished” he says calmly. I feel calm, too, and fairly fortunate that we have this partnership of equals. Sure, ups and downs, and sometimes quite a bit of work, and occasional resettings of expectations, together, nonetheless… so fortunate. So grateful. So happy to have this beautiful music, and this beautiful love.

“Finished”? Some things never really “finish”. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I could start with “I’m sipping my coffee…”, but I haven’t tasted it yet. It’s sitting here, hot, ready – too hot to drink, so perhaps not entirely ready. There’s probably a metaphor there, maybe one worth considering with great care.

It’s a rainy spring morning. I don’t mind the rain, so it isn’t the rain that has soured the start to this particular day… it’s just weather. So are these tears. Just emotional weather. Some mornings the challenges of making life in a share space with another human primate are emotionally difficult, frustrating, and push hard on every shred of resilience I’ve got. Living alone often requires more laborious work just getting everything done, but it does not require so much emotional work. It’s work that has to be done, in either case. Just work. Omg, though, some days I really just want to take things easy… where’s the fucking “easy” button around here??

My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my shoulders and my neck, and says kind, tender words. It helps for a moment. I relax into his love. That helps, too. Love matters. As with other things requiring effort, avoiding the work involved in creating enduring love only results in love not enduring after all… so… we work at it. Humans being human. My partner knows this; he’s pretty skilled at love, generally. Still human. Very. We both are. We have shared much with each other over a decade, learned a lot (both of us) about love and loving, and living our life together while also taking steps to be the human being we each most want to be. There’s a lot of joy in this journey. Some stumbles. Some sorrows. Sometimes things seem quite complicated, other times very straightforward; I’m rarely certain whether the complexity of any given circumstance is self-imposed or imposed upon us.

I sip my coffee thinking about love – now that my coffee is cool enough to drink. I take a moment to give myself some credit for the pure ferocious sheer will-to-change (and grow and improve) that is characteristic of the way I love… and the frustration and resentment that can sometimes result from those efforts, if the result is successful (meaning the desired change was made), but… inadequate (in that it did not have the desired result). I have, over years and relationships, grown weary of being willing to change. It’s not fair to my current relationship that the baggage I’ve picked up over the years weighs us down, now. It’s just the nature of “baggage” to function in that way; it takes still more will to set that shit down and move on.

…This is a good cup of coffee…

I sigh aloud in this quiet room. It sounds louder than it is. I think about the day ahead, looking forward to an errand that needs to be run, trying to sort out my thoughts such that I don’t return home to discover there was one other thing that needed doing, or picking up from somewhere. Lately, I often feel as if I “can’t hear myself think”, or as if I’m struggling to hang on to a thought, however engaging, if there is any hint of a distraction of any sort at all. I sometimes feel as if I am being distracted from what I’m thinking about by the thing I am doing that I am thinking about. I only know one thing that seems to sort that sort of cognitive chaos out properly; solitude. My mental “buffers” are full, and in spite of sleeping decently well, I’m just not managing to process everything…and now my headspace is all clogged up with bulging random thought-clobs of garbage and jumbled nonsense, and it’s hard to finish any new thought at all. Or – so it seems to me, subjectively, as an internal experience.

It was August 2019 when I last went camping… perhaps I am overdue?

It’s lovely to have a home I can call my own. It’s especially nice to share this experience with my Traveling Partner… but I guess I still need what I need as this human creature that I am. Maybe it’s time to get out into the trees again, to sleep under the stars, to wonder with awe at my mortal fragility in a wilder world, to face my doubts and fears in a place from which there is no turning away from answering “the hard questions” in life? I didn’t camp at all in 2020 – pandemic closed the places that are my regular favorites, and later resulted in astonishing crowding at those that opened back up. I’ve had my vaccination… perhaps it’s time to plan a long weekend somewhere solo camping? I’ve had this thought several times, but each time I explored the idea further, it was clear that crowding in a lot of favorite spots is still an issue, and seriously the entire point is to get the fuck away from other human beings and the sounds coming out of their face holes, and yeah, even to get away from their mere presence in my awareness. Proper solitude can be hard to come by (and not everyone enjoys it – nothing wrong with you if you don’t!).

Coffee half-gone, thinking productively about how best to meet some of my emotional needs without placing a burden on my partner (who is also stretched thin emotionally by the challenges of pandemic life, himself), and how to be a better partner to him, myself; I’m feeling less weighed down by frustration and sadness. Work is work. Some things take quite a lot of it. Some challenges are more complicated – and often, as a result, more rewarding once overcome. Still, the journey, itself, is the destination; if I get hung up on outcomes and task completion, I lose so many opportunities to live joyful moments. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of random bullshit pinging on my consciousness. Another breath. Another moment…

…Another opportunity to begin again. 🙂