Archives for category: Anxiety

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.

Yesterday went by fast. Too fast. I ended the evening feeling a bit rushed, pressed for time, hurried through things, short on bandwidth… and a little stressed. You too? It’s a fairly common experience for adults I know – what about you?

Did you do anything about it? Do you know that you can?

I halted mid-rush, somewhere in between watering the container garden on the deck, feeding the fish in the aquarium, yoga, and a shower… I… just stopped. I paused for a moment in front of a painting that hangs in the hallway (in a space that’s really a bit dark for that one), and really looked at it, vaguely surprised to see it, as if unaware I’d hung it there in the first place. I took a minute. For breath, for life, for a moment – for me. There wasn’t really any reason to be rushing around like a mad woman. Is there shit to do? Yep. Am I the one that’s got to do it? Again – yes. Does everything have to be done with equal fervor right fucking now? Ahem. No. Not at all. Not even possible – and the attempt to make it so isn’t just silly, it is exhausting. It also tends to dial up the intensity on life’s background stress, quite a lot. So.

I stood quietly looking at this painting with new eyes. Giving myself over to really seeing it. I turned and looked at another. And yet another after that. When I moved on with things, it was a comfortable pace, and a relaxed approach to the evening – and to life.

I sip my coffee this morning thinking over that moment, and many that preceded it during the day, contrasting the hurried moments, the frantic moments, with the chill moments. Which are actually more productive, realistically? Which bring more joy? Can I have/do both? My own answer is a clear and unequivocal “yes” – but there is an effort of will involved in managing it. I find myself needing to pause, now and again, because over time the pace of life seems to accelerate rather unpleasantly.

We are mortal. That’s still a thing, even in the 21st century. We have yet to improve upon that, or fix it, or, really, limit it in any noteworthy way. So, given that this may be my one shot at living well, at living beautifully, at living life from a perspective of contentment and joy, it seems wholly worthwhile to figure out how not to be so damned rushed all the time. lol 😀 Still working the bugs out. A quick pause to reset is what I’ve got for now that I know is effective.

I begin the morning with coffee and music. I almost overlook writing, and valuing this time, pull myself out of the news – pausing for a moment to slow my thoughts and breathe deeply – and write (here I am!) for a few minutes. There isn’t time for everything – we have to choose. Choose wisely.

Time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday was a jumble of times, timing, movement, awkwardness, people, more people, and still more people… and cramped airplane seating. Every detail went according to plan, right down to making sure to drink adequate actual plain drinking water before I got to Fresno.

Sometimes basic self-care is really really basic.

A dear friend – one of the dearest – met me at the airport, and I’m so glad we had settled on this plan rather than getting a rental car! Change is a thing, and I’ve not been back to Fresno for something like 20 years… and… wow. The fantastically efficient freeways (pay attention, Portland) are both efficient, and quite fantastical, and I doubt I would have had an easy time of fighting my recollection and implicit understanding of place and placement while trying to cross town during “rush hour” on a Friday in what is now, let’s be realistic, a strange city. Win and good; we had a lovely evening visiting with still more friends, after checking into my room.

I’d love to just skip over the room, but there is a certain tawdry lack of elegance, paired with the most basic fundamentals of “a place to stay the night”, that makes it quite noteworthy. I can’t call it a terrible room… it’s clean, secure, and has ample space to move around, and the bed was well-made with clean linens, and I slept through the night without interruption. But. This place is quite old. It was old when I lived down here. There don’t appear to have been any particular upgrades or improvements. The bare linoleum suggests the 80’s, though, so perhaps the run-down look, and lack of amenities is merely a small roadside motel just trying to hold on and keep costs low? The mouldings are broken in places. Two outlets don’t work – and all the appliances and lights were unplugged when I arrived. The curtains are poorly made, and mismatched. The shower stall is tiled but very dark, and very small, almost seeming to be an afterthought. There is a tall table and a couple of tall stools – no chair. The bed is big, and as firm as if the mattress were built of… a box. A literal wood box. I know there’s actually a mattress there, though, because it is also very noisy. When I went to bed, I rather figured I’d keep myself awake all night. Nope. I woke rested, and headache-y (thanks, Fresno air), with the dawn.

The room felt stuffy when I woke, so I opened the windows feeling both surprised and relieved that there were screens on them. I turned on the ceiling fan, pleased to note the tops of the blades had been cleaned very recently and it efficiently moves the air around without spraying down a cascade of dust. The sun hadn’t yet risen, and I showered, dressed for the day, and enjoyed the sunrise as it slowly cleared the hillside on the other side of the road, beyond the front window. This is a place. I could be here – or I could be “there”, wherever “there” could happen to be. Either way, I have the tools I need to enjoy this moment with the woman in the mirror, if I allow it. It’s a pretty amazing choice to have.

I hung out with my friends until late in the evening. Got to meet the long-time partner of one friend, and their young daughter, who has not yet decided that I am an acceptable human being. I’m okay with that. Better that her agency be respected now, and that she has a chance to learn to use skills for social discernment now, rather than leaving her without them to break her own heart again and again against the rocky shores of what dicks people can be. I met a pack of dogs, who find me to be an entirely acceptable human. So… there’s that. It got later than ideal for dinner, and we all went out for dinner somewhere near-by-ish – the drive was every bit as good as the meal. I’ve missed these dear friends. Already the weekend is quite wonderful.

I sip my iced coffee beverage, smiling about the limited options for such things in the local market, undisturbed by any of that, and feeling content. The view beyond the window is one of rolling golden hillsides, oaks, and stone, and I feel at home. The breeze is still cool and comfortable. I tempt myself with the fantasy of not having to turn on the fairly dirty looking air conditioner, based on this delicious morning breeze. I know I’m being silly; it’s going to be quite hot later, and the sun is already beating down on this place right now. I frown at the thought of the air conditioner, expecting it will likely fill the room with cool air… but… also some sort of less than ideally pleasant odor (most likely cigarette smoke). I’ll no doubt find out later. lol

I miss these views. I miss this place. I miss these friends, even though they are generally very much within reach through the magic of internet connectivity. This spartan room doesn’t allow much opportunity to avoid deep meditation, and self-reflection, and I find myself appreciating that quality over all my bitching… this, right here, is very much what I’ve been needing. It’s been a year, so far, rather intensely dense with OPD and foolishness, and finding truly restorative down time has been challenging. Now? Now it’s time to find some breakfast…. 😉

My anxiety chased me slowly all day yesterday before finally subsiding during the course of an evening phone call with my Traveling Partner. There’s just been so much drama so far this year, of the OPD (Other People’s Drama) variety, that it eventually had begun to affect my consciousness, generally. The outcome? Anxiety at the thought of being any more distant, or distracted, or uninvolved, or unavailable to my partner than I absolutely have to be… making traveling rather anxiety provoking; it held the unspoken potential of somehow leaving him in harm’s way without my support. Yep. I take the safety of my Traveling Partner, and his well-being, rather seriously. I had become, in some fashion, literally “here for him”, and was losing my perspective on being “here for me” as well. lol Oops.

He is so dear, and strangely, humorously, wise; he pointed out that my trip would be taking me to a point almost the same relative distance from him that I already reside, day-to-day, and that digital communication being what it is, and friends, and personal resources, being as they are, certainly if any great need were to develop… I’m no farther away than I am right now. Well, damn. That’s some excellent perspective right there, and my anxiety could find no further foothold, and quickly dissipated, and has not returned. I woke feeling rested this morning, eager to enjoy the weekend with friends, and feeling chill and content. 😀

Well… I guess I’m glad I checked the weather for the weekend… lol

I’m packing light on this trip. I don’t just mean my baggage – I also mean my “baggage“, and that feels good. I’ve got clothes suitable for the weather, which looks to be… typical. Hot. lol Different than here. So different. I checked. 😀 I’ve got my laptop. My kindle (so… all the books). My device (camera, phone, tiny super computer…). A notebook… for notes, obviously. (Actually, it’s for writing poetry, which just “feels better” on paper, with ink, than on a keyboard.) That’s pretty much it; one small carry-on bag, with a couple changes of clothes and basic toiletries. I like to travel light – it’s so much less to fuss with and keep track of. This is true of my metaphysical, emotional, and social “baggage” as well… I feel so much lighter and less “weighed down” today! 🙂

I’m seeing old friends this weekend. Dear friends. The very best of “friends for almost 30 years”, friends. As many of them as can make time for it on this trip down their way, who live close enough to work with me to make it happen. I have a peculiar sense of home-coming, returning to a place I haven’t lived for 20 years (as of this coming October). I also have a lovely sense of “this is already exactly as pleasant as I’d hoped”, in the sense that I have no specific expectations, requirements, or needs beyond enjoying a chill weekend away. 🙂

55 soon… just 11 days. Numbers, emotions, time… it’s a good weekend to reflect gently on life, and to ask all the questions without worrying too much about the answers. 🙂 It’s a good time to begin again.