Archives for category: Mindfulness

It’s a good Saturday morning. I’m listening to Megan Thee Stallion reminding me to be who I am without fear or shame. Easier to do when my anxiety isn’t a major problem, and my pain is well-managed. Today is a pretty good day. My recent doctor’s appointment was… surprisingly productive? Better than typical? I feel… hopeful. I’m also on new medication (not even a psych med intended directly for my anxiety, it’s a beta blocker that addresses some of the symptoms that follow prolonged chronic anxiety like my blood pressure). I’m pleased that it is, so far, actually helping – it’s even obvious to both me and to my Traveling Partner. We’re comfortably hanging out again without triggering each other, and without him seeming actually “allergic to me”. It’s super encouraging when medicine works.

It was important for me to be able to give my doctor an opportunity to treat me. To be open to change and to success – and sometimes that’s a more complicated detail than I am aware of. Learned helplessness over time, frustration with prior failures, anger and frustration, these can all get in the way of treatment (whether for physical or emotional ailments). I went to that appointment way more prepared for more frustration and failure than to communicate openly and honestly with my physician, and to be clear and purposeful in that communication. I got a lucky break by way of my relationship with my Traveling Partner. He was rather unpleasantly insistent that I specifically communicate some details to my doctor that he felt were especially relevant from his perspective. I could have dismissed that; my body, my doctor, my health & treatment! The thing is, though, he was on to something – I tend to minimize my own health concerns. It’s a long-standing bad habit developed during military service. “Go hard.” “Be strong.” “You’re a fighter.” “Don’t be a pussy.” “Endure and adapt.” I mean, that’s all fine for soldiers heading into a deployment, but, um, less than ideal in one’s relationship with a physician seeking to develop a good treatment plan for legitimate health concerns, for fucks’ sake. So. In spite of some internal resistance, I made a list. I literally read it off to my doctor, and answered her questions about each item. It was a tad comical, I found, but… I’m also on a new medication we’d never discussed previously, got a bunch of new lab work done (and have a plan to also adjust my thyroid medication based on the outcome of some of those tests), got a referral for a CT scan of my head (looking your way 8-year-headache – we’re coming for you!), and further, even got her wholehearted support of also treating my anxiety more directly (and a commitment to reach out to the clinician supporting that appointment, which is next week, to confirm which options are a good fit for the new medication).

I’m feeling myself this morning. I feel self-assured, comfortable in my skin, and happy to be who I am in this moment. Cardi B “gets it”. I’m not wealthy. Not focused on money all that much. It’s the wholesome (and obvious) confidence that resonates with me. When I am the woman I most want to be, I’m not mired in doubt – I know me. That’s what I want for myself, like, all the time; to rest comfortably in a sense of myself. Self-doubt is an insidious poison. I grin when She turns up in my playlist. I love the confidence of these women. I find myself thinking back to a younger version of the woman in the mirror… I wonder where Megan Thee Stallion will be as a woman of 50? 60? What about Cardi B? Where will their power rest when they are adult women farther along in their lives? Will it be in their financial power and economic influence? Politics? Intellectual endeavors? Philanthropy? How will they change the world from the other side of menopause? When life is less about a WAP than it is about knowing who they are and being that woman?

This coffee is good…

In 191 days I’ll be 60. Fucking hell, and still working to improve my mental health, resolve my chronic anxiety, ease the symptoms of my PTSD, improve my fitness and physical wellness, and become the woman I most want to be. The clock is ticking, eh? It’s a hell of a journey. I make a point of mentioning it because although I’ve made a ton of progress… I’m still walking this path, and there’s still a long way to go. It’s not “easy”. It’s not “certain”. Success is not a given. There’s no report card at intervals. There’s no trophy at the end of the journey. Is it worth the effort? For sure. It definitely has been. The incremental improvements are so very worth it. Yes, I still find myself frustrated, angry, or blue over ancient pain. Yes, I still find myself occasionally mired in my chaos and damage. Yes, there are still tears and they still fall. I’m just saying – don’t give up on yourself. You matter and you have so much to offer the world – and yourself. Get the help you need. Make small steps. Progress so infinitesimally immeasurably small is still progress and it will still get you somewhere, and it adds up over time. There will be interesting “a-ha moments” when you notice how far you have come, and how different (and better) life feels. There are verbs involved. Your results will vary. No one else can do the work for you. Just keep at it, okay?

Begin again. And again. One practice at a time, one step forward from a bad place, one new decision in favor of your wellness… it adds up, I promise you. Your darkest nights will be followed by a dawn – and a new day. (I mean, we’re mortal, so… yeah, but that’s a different conversation.)

It’s a cold Saturday morning late in the Autumn. My arthritis is bothering me. I took my Rx a bit earlier than I would on a work day, putting my self-care ahead of any other consideration today. Later I’d like to get a walk in, once the sun is fully up, and the day a bit warmer. The holiday tree is up and decorated. There is a Giftmas plum pudding steamed and aging for the celebration ahead. It’ll be a modest holiday this year; we have chosen to put our attention and money elsewhere this year (without resentment or regret), and I’m still eager to bake shortbread, to enjoy the lights and the carols, and to spend this time with my loving partner. It means so much to have that option, and to feel so well-loved. 🙂

I’ve rambled long enough – it’s time to finish this coffee and begin again.

I woke in a cold sweat this morning, heart pounding, feeling that sensation of “being late” and feeling massive amounts of anxiety over that very subjective (and in this case wholly illusory) feeling. There wasn’t anything at all amiss. I was not “late” – and didn’t have anything scheduled on my calendar with other people on this particular work day, to even be late to. I got up and took a leisurely shower before greeting my Traveling Partner (already awake, though I didn’t realize it when I got up) figuring I’m might be walking around in a cloud of stress pheromones. His greeting was soft, pleasant, and merry. I made coffee. We enjoyed taking our morning coffees together. It was quite lovely.

…My anxiety was pretty serious that entire time, though I initially said nothing about it. I could feel myself fighting with the physical features of anxiety while we chatted over coffee together: tight chest, shortness of breath, feeling vaguely nauseous, increased awareness of arthritis pain, a subtle feeling of having trouble breathing – and a not-so-subtle feeling of wanting to bolt from the room. I kept “letting it go” – more accurately, I kept suppressing it each time it surged, hoping it would just go away. Finally, I mentioned it out loud. Just observing the experience, and sharing those observations with my partner. We talked a minute or two about the anxiety, then moved on to other topics. I noticed every few minutes after that, my partner kind of “checked in” on how I was feeling, what he could do to assist, what kinds of things were adding to my feeling of pressure or anxiety? I shared and we talked, and the morning seemed fine honestly. No tears or tantrums, no escalation of some small misunderstanding. No impatience. No frustration. Just two adults aware of each other’s baggage and limitations helping each other through dealing with that shit – together. It was… productive? That seems to under sell the value in just speaking up in an open and trusting way. But, sure, let’s go with “productive”. My day was off to a good start.

I decided to go to the co-work space to work, just based on how bad my anxiety felt, and my desire to work skillfully in spite of it – which I know can potentially reduce my ability to interact with others comfortably, and I for sure did not want to start my partner’s work week mired in my bullshit & baggage. We missed each other almost immediately… and also found ourselves each working on our own work at a high level of efficiency. Win.

It can be seriously uncomfortable to talk about how we feel. Emotions can be complex and very subjective. Individually, we’re not all equally comfortable with emotions (our own, or other people’s). Still worth it. I feel like I understood myself a bit better, and that my partner understood me better, too. Worth it, worth it, worth it.

…Then I began again, and it was easier, and the day so far has been a good one.

Thanksgiving kicks off my winter holiday season, and always has. Here it is the Sunday after Thanksgiving and my leggings are dusted with bits of glitter after being on the floor wrapping the tree stand with its skirt after I somehow failed to successfully vacuum up all the fallen glitter left behind from making this year’s holiday cards. I experienced so much joy and satisfaction making the cards, I imagine I’ll do it again next year. Maybe start earlier and rush less…?

Handmade holiday cards were a fun weekend project.

Thanksgiving itself was… fine. It was fine. It was a lovely warm holiday spent in the company of my Traveling Partner. At some point we quarreled. We sorted it out and enjoyed the day. Commonplace enough and it didn’t ruin the day. Later, I did an astonishingly poor job of dinner. Well, I omitted a dish my partner really likes, for one thing, (and I generally make it, but had been doing so without understanding the relative importance to him, and so… I made a menu change that seemed a small detail, and it was a big disappointment for him). The other miss, dinner-wise, was the turkey. Straight up raw. It wasn’t done when I thought it was done. I checked the internal temperature of the bird, and must have managed to stick into the one spot on that fucking carcass that was at “done” temperature – the rest of it? Uncooked. Literally everything else I prepared was ready for the table, and the table was set, and I’d pulled the bird out thinking it was done, and it just was not. Yeesh. The disappointing discovery was made as my partner carved the turkey. It definitely put us both off actually eating turkey. What a waste.

…What’s not wasted? Any affection between my partner and I. He saw how crushed I obviously was over the dinner failures, and quickly offered me these words “I’m not disappointed with you, or upset about dinner. I couldn’t care less about what’s on our table. I care that you’re here with me. That’s what matters; we’re here together.” I felt very loved. Also rather disappointed with my dinner preparation, but yeah – very loved. That does matter more. We enjoyed the meal together anyway – there just wasn’t any turkey or corn. lol The mashed potatoes were creamy and delicious. The stuffing… had too much garlic. (What the hell?!) This may very well have been the worst Thanksgiving meal I have ever prepared. No kidding.

Yesterday evening I made a second “Thanksgiving-ish” meal, using delicious leftovers, and instead of turkey I made chicken strips. It was a satisfying, excessive, and quite a delicious meal. It was… Thanksgiving. We were both even appropriately thankful, and with good reason. Delicious meal in each other’s good company. What about Friday? I don’t even remember. I was in so much pain on Friday that the day ended up lost in it. I don’t think I made (or ate) dinner at all… and I’m not sure I got anything done. I was in that much pain. It’s rare for it to be that bad, but it does happen, and I am most likely to have that experience during the cold autumn days and nights on the way to winter. Yesterday was better. Today has been better still.

Today I finished up the holiday cards and got them in the mail. Did some housekeeping. Stood the tree and checked the lights. Wrapped the skirt around the base. Next up is the garland and then the ornaments. I don’t have much hope that I’ll finish tonight – and I don’t have to. There’s no need to dress the tree trimming in an additional layer of anxiety and stress over that kind of foolishness. LOL There’s no pressure. This whole mess is meant to be joyous, so… yeah… I’m cool taking my time with it. 🙂

Tomorrow a new work week begins, and the year begins the speedy race to the end – with twinkling lights, charity bell-ringers, and holiday carols playing everywhere. I am grateful to be where I am, here at home, wrapped in love, ready to begin again. This is enough. More than enough.

I woke with a wicked headache this morning. I’m in an absolutely shit mood, too. I woke irritable and cross with the world – on Thanksgiving. For fucks sake. What a… headache. I snarled a warning at my partner, and took my coffee into my studio and closed the door on the world. I put on a video of rain – maybe the sound will sooth me somehow? Fuck this headache. Fuck having a headache on a holiday.

…Omg… so much cooking to do… fuck.

I went to bed looking forward to today, and yeah even looking forward to the cooking. Right now? Right now I am not “looking forward” at all. I’m sitting here in my moment, with this fucking headache.

The sounds of rain are usually so soothing… this morning this video just isn’t getting me there. Headache is that bad. What I find myself listening to is the sound of my computer’s fans spinning up to deal with the high resolution video. I pause it and leave the picture up on the screen. I have no fucks to give. I leave my padded noise-canceling headphones on. They don’t do that much to cancel the very nearby sound of the computer fans, or my fingers on the keys of my mechanical keyboard, but they provide a muffled perspective on everything else. Quieter. My tinnitus is very loud.

I try listening to music. All the songs I usually enjoy are just annoying me right now. So I turn that off, too. I alternate sips of coffee with sips of water. I make a specific point of not looking at the news at all; there’s no chance that will be actually helpful, and some chance it could make things worse (by way of anxiety).

It is Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for in spite of this headache. I focus on that, bringing my thoughts back to things I am grateful for each time they wander back to this fucking headache. (It can’t last forever…so I’ll just keep at it.) What am I grateful for, sitting here right now, headache and all? I think it over and drink my coffee, which is quite good in spite of my crappy mood.

…I’m grateful for this cup of excellent coffee made from good quality Ethiopian coffee beans. I don’t really know how long coffee will continue to exist, so I enjoy it while it is available and make a point of buying from roasters that are at least trying to source their beans sustainably and also paying the farmers a fair price.

I’m grateful to have a secure roof over my head, a home to call my own, and amenities like indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and heat. I know there are families that don’t, not only in far away places but also right here in my country, my state, my county, and my community. (Pretty appalling, frankly – use your vote wisely.)

I’m grateful to be so fortunate as to have the luxury of beefing about a fucking headache on Thanksgiving; I know I can head to the kitchen any time and start preparing an ample holiday meal of wholesome good quality ingredients. I have numerous excellent cookbooks for inspiration, and highspeed internet to catch the latest cooking videos from favorite content creators. I am fortunate indeed. Even with the headache.

I’m grateful to have electricity. Like… seriously grateful. I sip my coffee for a minute thinking about how different life would have to be without electricity… and how many of our luxuries (that we mostly take for granted) are entirely dependent on having electricity in the first place.

My sleep has been filled with nightmares for a couple weeks now. I’m not sure why. I’m grateful af though that I am at least getting enough sleep (and rest) to start each day fresh in spite of the content of my dreams. That’s not a small thing. Getting enough actual rest means that I can generally expect that my dreams will not linger in my consciousness for long, once I wake. That’s actually a pretty big deal.

I’m grateful to have so many friends. Sure, most of them are quite distant, geographically, and we often go years without seeing each other. Doesn’t stop us from caring and connecting in between times. I could be a better friend, though… I pause this writing and send some emails to friends, wishing them a festive holiday meal. I miss them – particularly on Thanksgiving. When we were younger and living closer together, we’d often get together for a holiday meal. I do miss that. I’m grateful to have enjoyed it whenever we could. Good memories.

I’m grateful to have a partner who – after waking up irritable himself over not being able to sleep – can drop everything to be comforting and to try to be helpful, when I alert him of my vicious headache and shitty mood, in spite of where he’s at himself. Not one word of doubt that we’ll have a pleasant holiday, either; he knows that we’ll both get our shit together as the morning wears on, and go ahead and do the needful. Good partnership. We’re both entirely made of human, and god damn do we love each other. (I feel tears start falling, streaming down my face… I don’t know why, and I just let them fall. We’re mortal creatures, and sometimes that is reason enough for tears.)

I’m grateful even for the tears; I can feel. That’s kind of a big deal, too.

Rough morning. Still Thanksgiving and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for – this headache does not change that truth. I put on a playlist of love songs and begin again.

One thing I like about new beginnings, from the simplicity of waking up to a new day to the intensity of “starting over in life” entirely, is that if I embrace the potential and “hold the door open” for change allowing my experience to be different – it definitely will be. Generally. Barring obvious limitations to that kind of outcome (like being trapped within the confines of an unhealthy dynamic – in those situations, change can and does still occur, but the timing often does not feel “timely”).

I think what I mean to say is – I’ve got to be open to allowing a bad experience to change, evolve, or end, before it easily can. If the circumstances are shared, then it isn’t always up to me alone to see wrongs put right, or to find my way to a more enjoyable experience. It’s more complicated, for sure. It is far more likely that I’ll become mired in some terrible mess or abysmal case of the blues if I am not actually willing to move on from it, or unwilling to allow change to occur. As weird as it is – it’s very human to cling to misery and suffering, even to create and nurture it. I definitely recommend not doing that.

It is the evening before Thanksgiving. For me, it is the kick-off of the winter holiday season. A season of giving and of gratitude, of sharing and of community, of feasting and celebrating. What am I celebrating? Everything I am grateful for. Part harvest festival, part holiday party, and as much of it spent in the kitchen as at the table – it’s one of my favorite American traditions. No pilgrims at my holiday table, and also no genocide; that’s not the foundation of this holiday in my home. There’s no reason to keep telling old lies about first Thanksgivings, or try to use a fond holiday meal to whitewash brutal colonial history. It’s not about that. It’s about setting a good table, preparing a good meal, and sharing thankfully.

…It’s pretty easy to avoid strife when it’s just my Traveling Partner and I sitting down to our holiday meal, and I’m thankful for that, too.

So the menu is decided, and the recipes are selected. The “who does what” has been determined. Now it’s a long weekend and a day in the kitchen, then a day to get the Giftmas tree up and decorated, and a day for mixing up the plum pudding and steaming it (to be set aside to age until Giftmas). This particular weekend almost always feels like an actual vacation for me… well… I say that, but memory is a funny thing; I don’t much remember the confrontations or arguments of past family holidays at all. All that remains is the recollection of excellent meals, holiday lights, and the delights of “the season”.

Here’s wishing you a lovely holiday, and much to be grateful for. I hope every recipe is wonderful, and all your timing is quite right getting the meal to the table this year. ❤