Archives for category: health

So far…, so… I’m not perfect. Not even close. If “perfection” were the measure of human success, I would be an abject failure. Just saying, there’s something to appreciate that a. the bar is way lower than that and b. we even get to “set the bar” for most values of “success” in life ourselves and then also score the results. “It’s not that bad.” describes a lot of things. Pro-tip: there’s real value in pausing to reflect on how good it is and how bad it isn’t now and then. The results may surprise you.

“Good enough” has to be good enough, sometimes. 🙂

Are you wondering why I linked that track in paragraph 1? Here it is again with the lyrics. 😉

Last weekend I was ill. Like, dragging myself to the bathroom for multiple episodes of all manner of biological disaster through the night on Friday, and running a bit of a fever all day Saturday after my guts were utterly emptied from both ends. Yick. Horrible. My fever finally broke in the early evening on Saturday. Yesterday I was exhausted (in spite of drifting in and out of a restless sleep most of Saturday), and a bit faint and dizzy feeling. I managed to push a couple loads of laundry through the machines, and even put away most of that, but anything more was honestly beyond me. My Traveling Partner was super helpful and supportive and kind, and the only moment of discord between us was a bit of frustration with me over my relative incompetence in that state that made it super difficult to do the one “thinking task” (and it was a way easy ask) that he called upon me to do late in the afternoon. Thankfully, he saved me from possibly bricking an expensive laptop by being more aware than I was that I had “gone down the wrong path” on that task. My own frustration with the situation resulted comically in being mad enough to “storm off” to take a walk… which amounted to going to check the mail because I did not even have the strength to take a real walk of any distance. Hilarious. Had to come home and fucking behave myself and work on making things right with my partner like a grown-up.

Today feels like “just another work day”, but with a helping of “why did I think I would actually be fully up to this already?”. I didn’t sleep well, either. I had slept so much (I suspect) in the prior days (without drinking much coffee) that I ended up “over slept”, and since yesterday I did have coffee… I couldn’t sleep. Since I didn’t have quite half my usual amount of coffee, I also ended yesterday with a wicked headache (or was still sick…?), and the medication I took for that tends to result in not being able to sleep deeply. The result was a restless night. Funny… I’m okay though. There are things that matter more. Life? Love? Beauty? This quiet contented moment of reflection? The grocery list I don’t want to forget to shop for later. lol

I yawn and rub my eyes. I pause and write my Traveling Partner a love note. I fucking love that guy. I also appreciate him. I take a sip of coffee and a big drink of water and get ready to begin again.

I’m drinking water and counting myself grateful to have indoor plumbing, hot and cold running potable water from a tap in the house, and additional filtration that ensures the water is clean, and free of weird tastes or sediment. It’s nice. I’m drinking water because I’ve already had my coffee and frankly I do need to be drinking more water. Recent longevity-associated articles reporting on the value of being well-hydrated did not go unnoticed. I started paying attention to the differences on days when I am not well-hydrated vs days when I am – and nights. Yes, drinking more water definitely results in getting up to pee more often during the night, but that doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with whether I sleep well and deeply, or how easily I return to sleep, so… small price to pay? Well, I guess I hadn’t previously thought so, until I noticed that being well-hydrated seemed to also reduce my snoring (noticeably), as well as improving my ability to lubricate naturally (still a pretty big deal for me, personally, in spite of being post-menopause I really enjoy sex), like, a lot. So I’m pretty committed to drinking more water.

Keep practicing.

…I learned quite recently, and yes “the hard way”, that one bad spell with my mental health can wreck that progress in mere hours. Friday evening I went through some shit and had a nasty flare up of my PTSD on this whole other difficult to describe level. It was bad. I put my Traveling Partner through some bullshit over it (always regrettable and complicated). It got bad enough that I actually had a flashback, and those have gotten to be very rare. The ridiculous level of hysteria I ultimately reached (calling it a “panic attack” doesn’t do the chaos justice at all) caused me to cry a quantity of tears that finally resulted in a loss of moisture that definitely resulted in me more than a little dehydrated by dawn. I woke Saturday morning with a stuffy head, swollen eyes, and feeling like “everything had come crashing down”. It passed, but… it wasn’t good. The low point was the painful awareness that even medicated, I am at risk. I am grateful to have the partner I do. The chaos and damage don’t reliably “take no for an answer” once shit skitters sideways. The self-directed shame and disappointment immediately add an additional gut-punch that makes bouncing back hard. On top of all of that? Damn few people actually “get” what flashbacks are actually like, and they aren’t portrayed in the movies or in media very skillfully (how could they be?).

It’s important to take care of myself. Regardless of the chaos and damage, regardless of my personal starting point on life’s journey, or where I am standing when I begin again. Problematically, this is true for everyone; self-care matters. I don’t “get a head-start” when I practice good self-care – I don’t even get to start at the same starting point as “everyone else”. I’ve started this journey where my starting point happened to be. Self-care is a thing that it is very helpful to do – for everyone. I’m still me. Still have the issues I have. Still have to work on those issues. Still have to trust that incremental change over time will improve things. Still have to recognize that my results are going to vary. My demons got the better of me on Friday night in a big way. I’m fortunate to have a loving partner willing to support my long-term wellness and growth. I’m grateful that I can understand that there is no implicit promise that having a loving partner will actually make this shit any “easier”. I’ve still got to walk my own hard mile. I’ve still got to do the work. I’m still going to fall down now and then, and have to pick myself up and start over. Begin again.

Some practices are more critical than others. Some practices are more emotionally nourishing than others. Some are more or less effective for me as an individual. I did not imagine the simple act of drinking enough water would be one of those very simple very big deals among all my practices, but here we are.

Selecting good practices is a bit like building a healthy diet… fruit is delicious. Sooo tasty. Filled with nutrients we need. Yum. The thing is, though, it’s also full of sugar. Like a lot of sugar. For many of us, building our diet around tasty fruits is not notably healthier than building it around any other tasty sweets. [Note: I am not a nutritionist or dietician, nothing I say in this blog should be construed as medical or dietary advice. I am using “diet” and nutrition metaphorically here.] Veggies may not be as sweetly delicious and tempting in the way luscious ripe fruits can be, but they do make a far better foundation for my diet. So… it matters to choose with care. Whether we’re talking about a healthy diet, the practices we choose for our emotional wellness, the partnership in which we spend our days (and nights)… or the practices we choose for our physical wellness. Turns out some of the most basic practices for my self-care support both my emotional wellness and my physical wellness (looking your way drinking water and eating more veggies!!). It’s worth thinking about for more than a moment. Abandon any one of those cornerstones of a good life, and the foundation isn’t solid enough to rest upon.

Get right down to it, and there’s just no magic bullet, or pill, or single solution to “all of the shit we go through”. No partnership can bear the weight of all of our bullshit. We’ve got to do all the things we can – everything we know to do, as reliably as we’re able to learn to practice. Through practice. Sounds like a huge thing to commit to, but taken a practice at a time, doesn’t it just amount to living life? I think about it a while, let the songs play. Watch the tiny bar of sunlight creep across my desk.

My partner comes in and rubs my shoulders and neck for a moment. “You writin’ a book?” he asks with a laugh. I laugh back; there are no shortcuts.

It’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and enjoying the quiet hours before the work day begins. I woke with a stuffy head, and started my morning with a long hot shower, which helped immensely. I definitely have more difficulty with anxiety when I have difficulty breathing! (How very mammalian of me.) My voice is a little “froggy” – I notice when I greeted my Traveling Partner (I think I woke him when I got up…?). I find myself wondering if I’ve managed to pick up a head cold somewhere… ? Well, it is January, and there is still a nasty pandemic raging all around us. (I remind myself to mask up if I go out.)

New year, new beginning. The holiday decorations are all packed up and ready to go back up into the attic space for another year. I’m pleased with how compact and tidy they are.

A clear indication that the holidays are over.

At the end of last year I switched up my meds, and I’ve noticed that I seem a bit… clumsier? Less precise in my movements in very subtle ways, at least. It shows in unexpected bumps, bangs, and things unexpectedly dropped. I can count on one hand the number of holiday ornaments I’ve broken as an adult over decades of celebrating the yule season… and one of those was this year. 😦 It was an antique glass bell ornament that I remember seeing on the family Christmas tree as a child. I was saddened but not “struck down” over it. From the perspective of this moment, here, now, that feels like amazing growth.

It’s not a tragedy, just a small loss.

New year, new beginnings. I’m making a point to walk more, and I’ve returned (comfortably and easily) to previously practiced practices that really help me stay fit. Simple changes like parking as far from the door of a place I intend to shop as I can within their parking lot, for example, really add up over time. I’m allowing life to be “less convenient”, simply to get more steps in and exert more effort. It works surprisingly well. The more I do, the more I can do. Bit “late in the game”, sure, but every small change adds up. Details like walking further from the car to the store, and having to get up for the remote (every time, because I put it too far away to reach), and not trying to “make one trip” when I unload the car – those are tiny details that often get worked precisely in the “other direction” as we master adulthood – more ease, more convenience. Cooking real food from fresh ingredients takes so much more effort than a quick trip for fast food. Giving up convenience 100% means exerting more effort. More effort is more calories burned, more movement, and, over time, more fitness.

I’m quite a bit heavier than I’d ideally like to be. My goals are practical and health/longevity focused, and I try to keep them achievable, so small steps first makes sense. I’ve got dumbbells at home and I use them. There are trails and pavement all around for getting more miles on my boots. I’m even getting back to healthier eating habits and foods that support my health.

A recent weekend breakfast, simple and nourishing.

My focus on improving my sleep seems to be paying off, and I am getting better quality rest in the hours that I sleep. Win! 😀 None of this is costly. Most of this comes without a direct cost, for many people. (Let’s note that it can be quite a bit more expensive to buy fresh good quality ingredients for cooking wholesome food, and kitchen gadgets are not cheap, either.)

Have you noticed that I’m not talking about this stuff in terms of “resolutions”? Yeah… resolutions in that classic American-New-Years-y sense just don’t really work for me. They get dropped along the way, and by the end of February they’re just a memory of an intention once formed and never fulfilled. LOL I prefer to think in terms of making change and practicing practices. Seems to work out for me far more often. When it doesn’t? I can more simply shrug off that “false start” and begin again. No guilt, no shame, no awkwardness. 😀 My results vary – I know that, and I plan on it, account for it, and don’t take it personally.

How about a New Year’s book recommendation? I’ll be adding this one to my reading list once I’m finished reading it myself… Have you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck? The author, Mark Manson, provides an excerpt on his website. Not gonna lie, it’s a very approachable take on mindfulness basics, and a usefully practical approach to what could be called “secular Buddhism” for 21st century humans. So far I’m finding it helpful, useful, and wholly entertaining. I’d definitely sit down for a coffee with the author and enjoy a conversation if the opportunity came up. 😀

Anyway. If you haven’t already, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to begin again?

Sipping my coffee and feeling a tad sluggish and disengaged this morning. I am contemplating all the many things I think want to do, experience, or change. From this vantage point of “feeling disengaged”, it suddenly seems quite overwhelming to want to both “be very good at my work” and also “improve my fitness and emotional wellness”. Fuuuuuck… there are a lot of verbs wrapped up in those two things, and my list is longer than those! Suddenly I just want to walk on a beach somewhere – hot or cold – and just be. I feel… exhausted. Makes no sense. I’m resting, aren’t I? My sleep is okay, isn’t it? I sigh out loud in this quiet place where my day has started.

…I check my fitness tracker for data, instead of relying on impressions and emotions…

Over the past month I’ve averaged 7 hours or so of sleep per night, and the change in medication has resulted in the sleep I get being much more restful. That’s good news. Looking closer I also see that there are a couple noteworthy outliers – nights that I slept more than 9 hours. When I eliminate those (3 nights), the average amount of sleep I’m actually getting is only 6 hours. Endurable but not ideal (for me personally). Okay, so maybe I really am tired. No point taking fatigue personally.

I find myself imagining driving some great distance and parking alongside a sunny meadow on a quiet lane and napping in my car. lol To be “nowhere doing nothing” sounds incredibly enticing right now.

…I find myself “in this place” kind of a lot…

I take a breath. I grab a bottle of water. I stretch. I think about fitness and emotional wellness – maintaining my health sort of allows everything else to fall into place more easily, and keeps challenges feeling quite manageable, generally. The changes to my medication have done a lot of reduce my anxiety and improve my energy and the quality of my rest. What am I missing? Exercise? I’m getting more of that too – and it feels good. A healthy diet? Definitely eating a more healthy diet, and it shows. I’m even drinking more water. So… what’s missing?

Cognitive rest matters more than I sometimes think about. Not just sleep, but actually giving my brain sufficient “down time” to process buffered information, and to rest/recharge/rebuild – and I’m pretty bad about making sure I get enough of that sort of rest. The new medications help, but I go from the cognitive busy-ness of a work day to the cognitive busy-ness of hearing about everything going on in the shop for my Traveling Partner, and then pump additional information into my head through my eye balls on top of that. Day after day, night after night – and I’m doing it without quite enough sleep. It’s too much, and it’s that simple. This need for (and lack of) cognitive rest is the primary driver of most of my trips out to the coast, my camping trips, and my time out on some trail with my camera. I’m just seeking internal quiet.

Giving myself a few minutes in the morning to really think about what I need to thrive, and listen to the woman in the mirror, goes a long way to meet the need for stillness… but it’s not “a cure”. This morning, I get to the end of my “me time” with a yawn, and a third cup of coffee.

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee and looking over the payday budget details.

I take a minute to properly appreciate how far I’ve come over the years, and how little stress or anxiety are associated with handling family finances and working with my Traveling Partner to develop (and stick with) a plan that supports us now, and prepares for our future. It feels good to see the bills paid reliably on time, and to feel so little tension (or terror) over money stuff. I give myself a mental pat on the back for a job well done, and offer my partner a silent thank you for his day-to-day encouragement and support, and the many excellent suggestions and strategies that have been part of getting us where we are. Nice to have a functioning partnership with everyone on the same page payday after payday.

Yesterday was a good day. My Traveling Partner and I enjoyed the afternoon together. I got quite a lot done. We enjoyed dinner together and had a pleasant evening – right up until things went unexpectedly wrong in conversation somehow. I’m still not sure what the fuck happened. My baggage collided with his, and the evening ended on an irritated note. Rather peculiarly, I actually got a good night’s sleep in spite of that, and woke feeling rested. I hope he did, too.

The house was quiet and dark when I got up a few minutes before my artificial sunrise could wake me. I had considered working entirely from home today, but seeing that my partner was sleeping, I went ahead on in to the co-work space, and started my day there. I’ve really been enjoying the quiet time this gives me to write without any concern whatsoever that my typing might wake my partner. I had barely seated myself and gotten my workstation logged in when he messaged me asking if I was okay; he remembered I had said I was planning to work from home today. I let him know I’m okay and was simply giving him room/opportunity to get more sleep. He didn’t reply, and I don’t know whether he went back to bed, or is still holding onto anger from yesterday…

…I could let myself get spun over the uncertainty of “where my partner’s head is” this morning… I decide against it and instead I finish the budget stuff, and then get another cup of coffee and enjoy some quiet time writing. Letting myself get carried away with insecurity and anxiety that has its source in untested assumptions is 100% bullshit and I like to avoid it when I can. 🙂

I look over my to-do list for the day (and weekend) ahead. It’s all pretty routine stuff. My partner and my physician are both concerned with various aspects of my current health, and as we all close in on the new year I am feeling more motivated and recommitted to taking care of myself with greater skill. I even picked up a blood pressure monitor to use at home, since there have been signs that my blood pressure may need attention. May as well keep an eye on that. I’ve got a project I want to complete before the end of the year (or at least before the holiday weekend is over) and it has emotional elements, some literal heavy lifting involved, and a fairly profound “letting go of baggage” element to it. Hell, it will even serve to reduce clutter once completed. It is to do with a rather colossal bin filled with my pen & ink journals spanning more than 30 years of my life… they have become more a millstone around my neck than anything of legitimate value, and it’s past time to do something about that. Getting actually started on it is… complicated. I’ve stalled too long. This weekend I’ll want to do that, and then also take down the holiday decorations (as is my practice). I’m glad the rest of my to-do list is all utterly routine stuff like laundry. lol

I’m amusingly excited about cooking these days. It’s amusing partly due to the absolutely mundane necessity of feeding oneself, and partly due to my ongoing eagerness to do so more skillfully, based on healthier recipes and ingredients, while also seeking to focus on calorie/portion control, fitness, and reduced waste. LOL It’s a bit comical, is all. It’s a lot to ask of a kitchen, or any given meal. 2022 saw the addition of the wok to my repertoire, and now the Instant Pot, and some gleaming new stainless steel cookware, too… I’ve got a lot to work with, and a lot to learn. Should keep me plenty busy in 2023. 😀

So… it’s a new year ahead. A new path to walk. How many literal miles on foot will I walk in the year ahead? I managed to average more than 1.5 miles a day in 2022… but… my goal was quite a lot higher than that, and I only hit my goal 57 days out of 365. I could have done better – and I could have done more. I’m not shaming myself or giving myself a hard time, just taking a closer look and recognizing where I came up short. I did find a local walking trail that could be a really good choice for close-to-home walking (just getting in the miles) that doesn’t look at all crowded, and appears well-maintained…so… there really isn’t any excuse not to get off my ass and onto my feet for a couple miles every day. I mean, aside from pain or “running out of spoons” – and I already have a long-standing commitment to myself not to let pain call my shots. 🙂 My results vary. (How very human.)

…How many spoons in a mile…?

It’s time to begin again.