Archives for category: health

It’s morning. I’m tired. Of course, this is amplified in intensity because I definitely needed the sleep I definitely did not get. I sigh and choke down more coffee. It’s going to be a long damned day.

I take a deep breath, relax, and think back on my appointment yesterday. There’s a lot to unpack from that one, and I won’t be doing it (all) here (now). I smile back on one fairly cool win and good moment; I did not get lost getting home (last time I did). I was, um, fairly mistaken about where, in the context of the rest of the city, and, you know, maps, this location actually is, and so last time, when I chose to “just drive home”, I got turned around on a sequence of one way streets I’d forgotten about, and ended up quite lost. Not this time. I looked at a map. πŸ˜€ To be clear – I could have used my GPS, and considered doing so, but… rush hour. I don’t find it as uniformly helpful during rush hour. It knows the roads, it does not know people. So I GPSd the suggested route, looked it over carefully, and “just drove home”. It took precisely the amount longer that I’d expect for the greater distance. Win, indeed.

Therapy can be easy to the point of wondering why the hell I am there, or difficult to the point of wondering how the hell I’ve been accepted as an adult all these years. It’s a process. Like a lot of folks, there’s an additional emotional burden to bear in the midst of the cultural shitstorm that has become American politics and society. It’s particularly weighty for me as an individual; I already “have issues”. No lie. I have mental health concerns. I have been, even, fairly easily described as “mentally ill”. Am I now? Unknown. It’s not something that should have stigma, but it does. It’s a hard label to wear comfortably while also working full-time for a living doing something I’m respected for, living alone, managing my affairs on my own… all the adulting. I was able to take a break from therapy for about a year. No kidding, the current presidency on top of family “stuff” has pushed me back in. lol It’s okay. (I can laugh about that. Healthy.) There’s just more work to do; it’s just one more beginning.

I know, I know – asking for help when we’re ill (mentally, emotionally, cognitively, or physically) can be hard; it can feel like an admission of failure to adult properly. Don’t let that get in the way of getting help, though. Maybe you did fail to adult properly – but fucking wow is asking for help, particularly for our mental health needs, totally the absolute adult thing to do when help is what we need!! Go for it! You matter. Please. (And good luck)

I headed home with a plan, and a follow-up in three weeks.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Too much coffee? Too much therapy? No way to know, but definitely not enough sleep.

Another work day, then another, then a weekend… all filled with adulting. Fucking hell, I’m so tired…

…Well, back at it, I suppose. Can I get a new beginning over here, please? πŸ˜‰

I slept well. I woke rested. My coffee is adequate, and I’m content with that. It’s a generally pleasant morning. Sunday’s bit of afternoon aggravation in traffic seems far behind me, and it would be easy to just let that go so completely that I leave myself at risk of repeating that experience for lack of fully considering the circumstances, and how best to care for myself and build lasting emotional resilience such that it doesn’t ever happen again (a lofty, potentially unreasonable goal, also worth keeping a watchful eye on).

The flowers in my garden may bloom on their own, but they do so more beautifully, more generously, more reliably, if I care for them with skill.

This morning I take time to consider what opportunities for self-care got overlooked, or set aside, and which among the later consequences turned out to be unacceptable compromises after-the-fact; it’s a helpful way to re-calibrate what matters most. It’s helpful for ensuring I continue to practice those practices that support my long-term wellness, even where that may occasionally also mean a long-term lifestyle change. (Trust me, making the changes in my lifestyle needed to skillfully support my emotional wellness, over the past three years, has been a journey all its own!)

Are there things I wasn’t doing, that reliably work for me?

Are there things I was doing, that reliably don’t work for me?

Are there things I hadn’t considered previously that, as practices, would support a healthy life, both physically and emotionally, and support activities like late night art shows, all night parties, social weekends, limited sleep, and being generally exceedingly busy? (“Is this an unreasonable expectation?” seems a good follow up on this one.)

Am I doingΒ enough to care for this fragile vessel? (If I answer “no” to this question, are my expectations too high? If I answer “yes”, am I kidding myself?)

This morning I water my garden, turning these thoughts over in my head. Where is the path to success, to balance, to perspective, to wellness…? What path will I take, myself, on this journey through life? What matters most… to me?

What matters to the wellness of the world? Where do I fit in, there?

Every flower has its place in life’s garden.

I reflect on my choices. Am I the woman I most want to be? Am I living up to my promise, as a human being? What does it take to get there? Can I have/do/be that, too?

I reflect on my experience. I’m not hard on myself, although I am as honest as I am able to be from this wholly subjective perspective on my own experience. I could do better.

It’s time to begin again.

 

 

I called out again today, like, properly. Working yesterday was a bit ambitious, and I wasn’t really as up to it as I thought I would be. I talked myself into it anyway, because… work. It’s an American thing; we over-value jobs, and grossly under-value self-care. Before the work day ended, it was clear I wasn’t up to another.

After the work day ended, I took time to re-calibrate my actions to my intention; the intention being to “get well”, clearly my actions need to be other-than-work-related. I took time to have a healthy meal (soup, a small salad), more tea (and more after that), and treated my symptoms as skillfully as I know how. Then I went back to bed. Other than getting up fairly regularly to sip tea, drink water, deal with my sinuses, or to pee, I slept for the next 17 hours, in spite of the whistling and percolating noises of my breathing. I won’t be out of bed much today, I’m feeling woozy and fatigued just from the effort of standing, and making morning coffee. (I definitely don’t want to add that headache to my afternoon!)

I could have chosen differently – and I almost did. It can be hard to choose self-care. I fight myself for the choice to take better care of me, every time I’m sick. I’m not fighting my boss, or my partner, or anyone else, though – I’m fighting myself, and the remnants of self-abusive programming that lingers after a lifetime of exploitative messaging about the necessity of obligating oneself to an employer, and abusive messaging conveying an aversion to being “weak”. It sucks that we are so prone to treating ourselves poorly. All of that is built on our choices.

I sit sipping my coffee disinterestedly. It is less than ideally palatable, and I am disengaged and feeling ill. It’s hard to care about anything much, just at the moment. There are choices there, too. I will soon choose to go back to bed. πŸ™‚

I find myself thinking about self-care and how we fail ourselves in our relationships through choices not to care for ourselves skillfully. I think about how often in past relationships I made choices to “let that shit go” when I would have served myself well to speak up promptly; failing to speak up for my needs or interests in the moment often seemed the fastest route to keeping things chill – but the explosive loss of temper down the road, when I finally could no longer bear to undermine my own needs didn’t serve me so well, and didn’t treat others well, either. I could have done better. Failing to test my assumptions, I could so easily be hurt by real life simply being what it was – because I was clinging to a very different vision, and inevitably, there would be conflict when reality finally forced a showdown with my imagination. Holding on to unverified expectations, and allowing a lack ofΒ Theory of Mind to confound things further, I could destroy a beautiful moment so easily by being intensely upset that life did not unfold as I expected it would. These are all such commonplace things to “get wrong” that whole lives are built on these flawed models of relating to others, without any notable challenges in spite of how fucking crazy that actually is.

Some relevant seeming notes, that sort of summarize some things I’ve learned along the way, because now I’m just tired and ready to go back to bed:

  • We don’t know what we don’t know – and can’t.Β 
  • We are each having our own experience; what is “obvious” to me, may not be obvious to another at all.
  • There is no requirement (or legitimate potential) for others to “make us happy”, however lovely it is that we are happy in the company of another; our happiness is our own to find, build, and sustain.
  • We “aren’t all that” – count on it – somewhere, someone is tired of our bullshit. We can do better. Every fucking one of us can do better today than we did yesterday.
  • We are perfectly divine, too, and “deserve” to be treated well; paradoxically, we must teach each other what that means to us individually, in every relationship we share.
  • When we are the one who is “always upset” or “always stressed out” in our relationships, we are also the one with the most immediate need to do a better job of caring for ourselves. It’s us, not them.
  • Self-care is not abusive of others, and does not have to come at the cost of treating others well.
  • Boundary-setting is hard. A lot of the very best adulting practices feel that way, and require considerable practice.
  • We can only do our best – and it’s on us, ourselves, to know what that is, and be real about it when we’ve depleted our resources and just can’t do more/better.
  • What we want from our partners and loved ones does not obligate them to provide that to us, however much we want it.
  • All of these bullet points apply equally to them.
  • We are individuals, not property.
  • We are equally obligated to treat others well, as they are obligated to treat us well; not at all. It’s a choice. (Although if we go around treating people badly, it’s not at all realistic to expect to be treated well, just saying.)
  • Some people don’t care the way we care. Sometimes we are the person not caring.
  • A lot of things improve when we listen deeply, instead of waiting for our turn to talk.
  • We can demand change from others until we’ve lost our voices, it is an empty unsatisfying endeavor; change comes because we choose change.
  • Attempting to force others to change is a form of emotional abuse – yes, and even if those changes we so earnestly demand are “good” or “better” or even “ideal”; it’s literally not our decision who that other person chooses to become.
  • Sometimes the wisest choice and best way to care for ourselves is to walk on. The mere fact that we want something to work out is no assurance that it will.
  • We are the cartographers on our own journeys. The map we make is not the world.
  • We can choose change. Any time. Any day. Any relationship. We do this by being the change we wish to see. We do it with our choices.
  • We become what we practice.

Ready? The day ahead is a blank page, and you are the author of your experience. Choose your adventure.

Oh hey, good morning. πŸ™‚

It’s true, by the way. I can’t “fix” you. (Maybe you aren’t even actually “broken” in the first place, however “broken” you may sometimes feel…) Similarly, you can’t fix that person who is dear to you, or even that yearning stranger seeking support. We are not machinery. What is entirely possible and totally within reach is to change our experience. We can change our choices, change our reactivity, change our potential for resilience, change our actions, change our words, and even change our thinking – which, as it turns out, is a very big deal. We each (all) have choices.

“Be Like Water” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and India ink. 2018

Pro-tip: If you regularly feel like you are spinning out of control and “have no choices” or “lack options”, taking some time to explore potential choices and options you have previously set aside as “impossible” or in some fashion unworthy, may be really worthwhile. If you’ve narrowed down the vast list of potential choices and options to just some small handful that from your present vantage point “all suck”, you’ve made at least one choice already; the choice to disregard some possible choices. I’m sure you have your reasons. Maybe handle that differently? Be open to more than what you, yourself, think is “obvious”.

Sometimes we need to step back to see things in context, or to gain perspective.

I spent the weekend delightfully, mostly painting and hanging out with friends. I provided comfort and support where it seemed needed. I felt valued and appreciated for “being there”. Realistically, I also know that I didn’t “fix” anything at all; I simply took time to allow friends to be fully heard, and supported their good hearts. Where helpful, I shared the practices that support me most, myself, hoping that these would be similarly helpful for my friends. I am aware, because this is how I roll these days, that very few of my friends will adopt practices that require real accountability, self-awareness, reflection, and… verbs. A lot of verbs, and slow incremental change over time, don’t sound nearly as enticing as a fad diet, or a horoscope, or a quick fix, or someone willing to tell us it’s “not our fault”. In a moment of emotional crisis, anything at all that helps calm the storm is welcomed. When the storm passes? Well… few people really want to do a lot work, though, right?

“So Deep” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and India ink. 2018

I’m not mad. I already knew I couldn’t fix you. I just want you to be well, and to be whole, and to care for yourself. πŸ™‚

I maintain a certain healthy distance from OPD (Other People’s Drama) as much as possible. This works for me. It doesn’t make me less sad, when I see a friend in tears, to maintain such boundaries – it does tend to make me less frustrated that I was not able to “fix them”, by allowing me to remain mindful that honestly I never could, and also, there are verbs involved – not all of those are mine. πŸ™‚ We each have to walk our own hard mile. We each have to face our own dark night. We each “hit bottom” our own way, in our own time, over the things that hold most meaning for us individually – our dearest loves can not save us from ourselves… But we can. No kidding. It’s just those damned verbs, and the slow passage of time, and the lies in our heads that tell us any differently. It’s just one more bit of resistance (within ourselves) to overcome when we undertake healing and change.

“Down by the River” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glow glitter, and India ink. 2018

Over the weekend, I also received the rest of my art work back. My Traveling Partner picked it up for me. I felt very relieved to have them returned to me. I find myself wondering about my attachment to them. It’s something for me to think over; it may be less than ideally healthy to treat them as literal pieces of myself.

“Because…Love” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and gold leaf. 2018

Here it is, time to begin again. Working from home, still sick, but I am at least sufficiently improved to work. That’s progress. πŸ™‚ What about you? What will you choose to do differently to improve your experience? What will you change to become the person you most want to be? What practices will you commence to become, over time, someone other than you are? Are you ready to become the person you most want to be? There are verbs involved… I can’t do them for you.

Here’s a great place to begin again. You’ll still need to practice. πŸ™‚

 

Intense connected weekend, deeply emotional, profound, moving, close, intimate, filled with friendship, community, heart… and love. It was pretty wonderful. It was also very weird. Like all of our hearts were cracked open by our own pain and circumstances, and what spilled out was how much we all really care about each other. It was splendid… and deep. I can’t do a whole lot of that over a prolonged period of time, myself, I am open and raw, and struggle to manage self-care and boundaries. It can go very wrong if I don’t make a point to get a few minutes of space and take care of my own needs, also.

This past weekend was lovely. The closeness, authenticity, and emotional complexity of it all apparently hit me right in the immune system, though, or brought me into too-close contact with someone recently ill. By Saturday in the early afternoon, the itch in my sinuses was already giving me a heads up that I had picked up some passing virus. I thought little of it, and began drinking more water, and taking steps to be more well. Practices.

By evening, I just wasn’t “up for it” – any of it – and not in a mean or unkind way, I literally couldn’t cope with the sound of human voices talking over each other, however happily. The stream of information felt more like… a flood. An avalanche. A tidal wave. It was just more than my broken brain could handle in the moment. I took a step back. I returned later; no change. Apparently, this head cold comes with an optional “cognitive impact” package – no extra charge. I ended up taking my leave early in the evening – no hugs – and keeping to myself, drinking tea and drifting in and out of awareness. At some point I considered making the drive home that night… and thankfully either thought better of it, or just… didn’t. I wasn’t at all up to it. Hell, I wasn’t up to the drive home when I finally did get into the car on Sunday morning – but I was still holding out hope that I’d be working on Monday.

It is Monday. I’m not working. I’m home sick. The only reason I am “out of bed” at all right now is that the “coffee alarm” in my brain went off, and I got up to have my measured amount of morning coffee before I collapse back into bed to be sick “more skillfully”. lol I’ve literally “no business being out of bed right now” to quote my Granny from many years ago.

The drive yesterday was surreal. I don’t take some types of cold medicine (contra-indicated due to other things), so I made the drive feeling fairly shitty, but not further impaired by OTC mix-n-match weirdness. I observed the effect of this particular “head cold” (is it? I think it is…) over what seemed a longer than usual drive. I could still assess distance and speed fairly well, but my ability to determine relative risk (decision-making) was definitely impaired. I often felt confused, slowed down, or dithered when some choice suddenly wasn’t so certain – while driving at freeway speeds. I was happy to arrive safely home. There were definitely one or two points along the drive when it was not a given that I would.

I got home feeling a stew of aggravation, frustration, anger, and all manner of nuanced negative emotions. My heart felt like a snarl. Not a snarl, as in “tangled”, nope; I was the embodiment of snarling confrontation waiting for someone to step to me and make something of it. lol Omg. Seriously? Why is there even such a thing as head colds that tamper with emotional balance or cognition?? So not okay. I unloaded the car haphazardly, reserving 100% of my fucks to give for the precious cargo in the trunk; I have my paintings back. I make a point of pausing to really appreciate that. I settle in for the evening, make tea, have a shower, change into comfy clothes, bundle up, have more tea, and go to bed. I exchange messages with my Traveling Partner later, and go back to bed. Between 1 pm and 5:30 am this morning, I slept about 12 hours. I’ll be going back to bed for more of the same once I finish my morning coffee.

So many practices being practiced. Boundary-setting, self-care, communication… all involving careful use of practices learned over time such that they feel pretty natural when needed (which is good because right now I’d struggle to do anything “new”) – but, being sick, none of it “feels effective” – however effective it may actually be. It’s a good time to be alone, and calling out today is a wise choice. It’s hard though. It’s Monday. I try to “never take Monday off”. I notice the chills, again. I finish my coffee. Treating others well also involves not bringing further contagion into the office space where coworkers would soon be dropping like flies, themselves. Treating others well involves making the (hard)(adult) choice to respect work spaces, and the quality of the work experience, by not bringing heightened ferocity and reduced resilience into the calm productive emotionally neutral space that is our work area. Acknowledging that I am “not myself” is also less than ideally easy; we often don’t want to admit it when we are not well, sometimes due to nothing more than “FOMO” (for fucks’ sake, really??) because we don’t want to pass up some event, activity, or connected time “just because we’re sick” (no, really??). I allow myself to be the adult in the room in my own experience; I call out.

Coffee’s gone. Even when I’m sick there are opportunities to begin again. This is one of them; I’m going back to bed. lol

 

 

…And anyway, the point is, practice does matter, and it is there for me when I need it most.Β  The skills develop over time, and are useful in circumstances I may not have anticipated. I’m just saying; keep practicing. πŸ™‚