Archives for category: Mindfulness

I am enjoying a Monday off.

It is, in some locales, “Columbus Day”. Other places now celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, instead (“in addition to”, while appearing to be sort of a thing, doesn’t really make any sense; the ideas are very much an either/or sort of situation, from my perspective). I grew up with Columbus Day as the holiday being taught, and celebrated, and I recall early confusion regarding what, exactly, was actually being celebrated about the bloody land-grab that was the colonization of North America by European settlers. As an adult, I try to honor the day more honestly, educating myself about various “First Nation”, “Native American”, and indigenous cultures of the continent, and taking time to appreciate the moral and ethical complexities of this country I live in, in a more complete and frank way.

Today? I’m mostly just having a Monday off. Later I’ll meet with my therapist (it’s been awhile, and I think I need a “tune up”). Run an errand after that. Enjoy the day as a whole and complete thing, rich in its own complexities.

I’m thinking about seasons and cycles. Partly because some background portion of my mind is still nibbling at a work problem to do with “seasonality”, partly because the season has changed from summer to autumn, almost “overnight”. Certainly, it seemed to take only days from the last hot afternoon to the first chilly morning. Now, leaves are turning fall colors: gold, russet, flaming orange, deep reds, and moody purples. I enjoy the display, and the cooler days.

One day, recently, my Traveling Partner said to me (I was having a rough go of the moment we were standing in and feeling very sad and diminished), “If I could give you just one thing, it would be “hope”…”. This morning I feel hopeful. It’s nice. Pleasant. Hope tends to make the uncomfortable seem more endurable, and less significant. 🙂 I smile to myself and have another sip of my coffee; it has already gone quite cold, on this leisurely pleasant morning. I’m okay with that. It’s good coffee.

The holidays are approaching. I haven’t really “made a plan” as far as what we’re doing for us, here at home. It feels appropriate to have a relatively frugal holiday season – mostly because we have our basic needs met. By “frugal” I’m not meaning “privation” and going without – I just mean a holiday more about moments, warmth, and cookies, and less about retail endeavors (whether online or locally). I’m not any less excited at the prospect. I’ve got a good mixer, and a lot of excellent cookie recipes. lol 😀

I sip my coffee thoughtfully, realizing that during this pandemic, even the price of butter can result in holiday treats being quite costly, and thus, rather luxurious. What is luxury? I guess it could be the distinction between cookies made with on-sale margarine and discount chocolate-flavored chips instead of plugra butter and carefully selected varietal baking chocolate. Those small luxuries are often just as out of reach as the large ones… Struggle is real. At least today, this year, this life, this moment, I can make the choices with care, and enjoy the occasional luxury, eyes open, no shame. 🙂

I look at the time. Already? Time to begin again. 😀

Weird few days. Headaches. Neuralgia. Vertigo. Not my best experience, honestly, but I’m fortunate to have it in the context of being loved and supported, so… there’s that. It could be so much worse. I hold on to that and sip my coffee. Sunday morning. Low key day to chill and get some housekeeping done, gently, patiently, and with self-compassion and respect for my present limitations. I can do this. 🙂

“Doing my best” is a slippery construct, sometimes, and I’m often hard on myself when I fail to live up to my own expectations – which are sometimes higher, sometimes lower, that the expectations other have of me may be. Very human. I don’t “look unwell”, generally. I’m going about my business, often smiling, probably seeming relatively relaxed. It’s an appearance. I put almost as much effort into “being okay” as I do into getting shit done when I’m not entirely okay. I don’t guess that’s a requirement, it’s just something I’ve tended to do. Admittedly, it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does tend to improve shared experiences, mostly. It has the major drawback, though, of routinely putting people in the position of expecting more of me than I may be up for. I think about that as I sip my coffee… how to balance “transparency” and openness with staying positive, and enjoying life every minute I can… it’s tricky.

I listen to the rain fall. It’s not “my” rain. It’s not actually raining this morning. It’s a video of rain, soothing and beautiful.

My Traveling Partner has been kind and helpful, and maintained considerate awareness of my current health concerns. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, I know. We had a great day out and about yesterday, a rarity in the pandemic to go out at all and together has been rarer still. Yesterday was fun, and also exhausting. We napped after dinner for awhile, and enjoyed a relaxed quiet evening of videos later. I smile every time I think of some detail of yesterday. Good time together.

I’m trying to stay out of the news feeds. I’m frustrated by that. I enjoy reading. I value being “current” on important affairs. The news industry has become so tainted by social media practices chasing likes, clicks, views, engagement, and ad revenue that I don’t get much positive value from reading the news. Repeats of repeats of shares of Twitter quotes masquerade as “news”, with click-bait headlines and thumbnails that often have no relationship at all to the material in the article is not a useful way to stay in touch with the world; it just drops of fuck ton of emotional baggage on me in my own living room. I’m very much over it. It’s not good for my emotional wellness, and life is too short to waste it in that way.

I am already thinking about the holidays. How best to spend limited holiday funds is on my mind. What does my partner truly want, really need – what would delight him on a Giftmas morning? (Yes, dammit, I’m thinking about Giftmas already. I blame big-box home improvement chains, but also? I plan ahead and with the postal service being slowed down intentionally, I don’t think I should wait until December to order anything that would need to be delivered.) Something big? Something small? Blow all the funds on a single item? Several somethings? Something practical? Some luxury doo-dad he might not buy for himself but would enjoy? (I mean, “luxury” is relative, obviously – there is no sports car on this list, no diamond cuff-links, no Saw-Stop table saws; all of that it entirely out of reach, for now, but there is no shortage of smaller luxuries left to consider.)

…And “what about me”? What do I want for the holiday? What I’ve got, really. A bit more of that, a bit easier, a bit more relaxed, more laughter, more smiles, more hugs, more loving… I’m at a weird unsettling place in my life where more good exists than bad, more comfortable moments than uncomfortable ones, trauma being healed rather than inflicted, and generally, day to day, enough of all that I need to thrive. I often feel a bit of a jerk when I’m having a rough go of things (emotionally or physically) because of that; it seems unreasonable to struggle when things are so generally good, you know? That’s what got me thinking about “taking it easier on myself” and being kinder to the woman in the mirror. Treating myself badly because it “doesn’t seem right” to have a rough time with something in the context of a good life only leads me down the path toward treating others similarly poorly. Not helpful. This year? I want a kind, loving, genial, tasty, joyful holiday characterized by appreciation of the small details and shared experiences that make is so warm and wonderful. It’s the sort of gift that requires my own effort and consideration as much as anyone else’s. That’s okay with me, too.

Seems a good day to tidy up, and maybe to bake something. It’s certainly a lovely moment to begin again.

Damn. Rollercoaster ride of a few days. Crazy. Some lovely on-again-off-again rainy days, which I find generally quite pleasant. Less pleasant is the ebb and flow my anxiety. I had a lovely relaxed weekend with my Traveling Partner – it seems ridiculously far away, now. I’m not certain either of us actually recall it.

My last surviving grandparent died over the weekend. It hit me harder than I expected. I keep making that observation, in various conversations. I’m not sure why I feel I need to explain or excuse my feelings. Grief and grieving are very personal processes. My partner is loving and considerate of my grief. He’s good like that.

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

My partner is less loving and considerate of my anxiety; it tends to provoke his, which then causes mine to worsen (seeing him anxious), which, of course, aggravates his (seeing my anxiety increasing) and around we go. He does his best – and his best is pretty good. I’ve been – often right here – “working on” my anxiety for years now. Study. Practice. Consult. More practice. Repeat. It’s hardest on us when we’re both having an experience that is characterized by feelings of anxiety. “Background anxiety” is particularly insidious. I too often feel that I’m managing things skillfully, feeling good…but miss some detail that could predictably be a thing that might trigger his anxiety… and we’re off. My fairly chronic picking at my cuticles, for example, although it is a sort of a “tic”, and hard to shut down or “break the habit”, it functions as a trigger for his anxiety (likely by sending subtle “anxiety signals” to him that suggest I am anxious, myself) – I’ve fought this “habit” for years. It’s nowhere near as terrible as it once was (I can not now imagine what observing that horror show must have been like for onlookers), but I still bite my nails sometimes and pick at jagged cuticles something awful, and often without being aware of it. Yeesh. I could do better. It’s hard, and there are verbs involved, and it is a major bummer to see so little obvious progress over time. I keep at it.

Anxiety and grief. My week, this week. That’s already a lot to take, but on top of that – I woke yesterday from a late afternoon post-crying-over-death nap with a serious case of vertigo. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Do a poor selection of dumb bell exercises? Was it because I was working with the 3D printer on my hands and knees, instead of sitting comfortably and being aware of my posture? Is it viral? Was it doing all the show-and-tell stuff my physician asked for during yesterday’s video appointment? I rose from bed with care, severely dizzy, and fighting the anxiety that comes with the vertigo (hard not to panic, it’s very scary). It soon made me physically ill, and I gotta say, I did not enjoy the experience of cleaning up puke while also still fighting the spinning of the room. I did impress myself, though (less by the quantity and distance I achieved, more the unexpected success with the clean up.) I went back to bed – not much else I could do (literally). I just didn’t have the balance to be doing things. I woke a couple times during the night, still spinning. Managed to make it to the bathroom without an incident. This morning? Not quite as bad, and I worked, more or less as is typical.

Well.. I worked, and I juggled the anxiety. Mine and his. I don’t really know what caused his – maybe mine. For sure a portion of mine is caused by his. It’s a pretty problematic feedback loop that seems solved only by literal distance from each other, at least lately. His tense request is that I do a better job of managing my anxiety. I can’t even argue with that; it’s a reasonable request. “Already on it!” is what I’d like to reply, but don’t want to sound flippant, or dismissive, or in any way take away from his message – which is that he is struggling to feel comfortable and manage his own anxiety, when he is with me. Especially hard when he wants to be with me so very much. I want that too.

My arthritis pain competes with my anxiety for my attention, and with the vertigo continuing to flirt with my awareness from the periphery. Adulting is hard. I sigh and email my therapist to request an appointment time. There are steps to take. There are things I can practice – or practice more. There are things within my power, right now, to do better/differently to care for myself with greater skill. It’s not about “easy” – there are no promises that it will be, and I don’t expect it to be. More failure than success? Comes with the issues being tackled here. Incremental change over time is slow. Anxiety fights back. S’ok. It’s a process. Failure doesn’t truly characterize the journey unless I stop moving forward entirely. 🙂 One step at a time, walking this hard mile. I’m having my own experience – and I feel fortunate that I am also sharing the journey with someone who truly cares about my wellness, and to see me thrive as an individual. More practice? Sign me up. It’s really that simple. I don’t have time for blame-laying, I just want to heal and be well. I’m willing to work pretty hard for that, and willing to do so in the face of literal years of failure and frustration, just to manage some small improvements. I’ve had to be. Is it “worth it”? That’s not really a question I can answer for anyone else.

It’s time to begin again. Again.

Well, no, not actually. There’s a breeze. It’s a sunny Autumn afternoon. The only “drafts” I’m actually noticing are those piled up in my blog, left behind, forgotten – until a stray mouse click puts them in front of me.

The titles don’t reveal much.

I suspect some of these are just a smattering of notes, taken in a hurry and left for later, and it is likely that any ideas that really “got me” have already made their way into a post somewhere. The others? Like once-favorite toys, now broken, they have outlived their usefulness, but somehow I fail to do the housekeeping necessary to tidy that shit up. I think about that and sip my soft-drink; an afternoon treat (little more than bottled liquid candy, so definitely a treat). I promise myself to look over these drafts, later… another day, perhaps, and clean them up. As with my physical spaces, I do well when my cognitive “spaces” are kept quite tidy. 🙂 It’s an important detail to know about myself.

Weird day. My arthritis is giving me grief. My consciousness feels… “fractured and wild” somehow, as if distractions are piling on distractions, competing with other distractions, with the whole mess blocking my view of what I thought I had on my mind… or my to do list. Frustrating. I rarely have this much difficulty with “focus”, or, if I do – I’m rarely so acutely aware of the issue in the moment. I feel, emotionally, as if I’d like to just chill and read a book, but I also have real, practical, doubts that I could sustain my focus sufficiently to get through a paragraph without having to start over several times. I would say “how unlike me!” but I am also having a subjective experience of being… I dunno… “a bit of a stranger to myself” just at the moment. It’s a subtle aggravation.

…I could just sit quietly for awhile… that might be quite pleasant…

A visceral awareness of just how much small stuff – decision making, task processing, go-getting, grinding persistent care of self and of household and of family and of just… life fits into a single day hits me hard, like an abrupt smack. I become aware of my headache. My fatigue. A hint of ennui. A desire to “get off my feet” (I’m not standing on them) and “just take it easy” (I’m working a desk job) starts to swamp me – how am I this tired, right now? It makes no sense and I try to “shake it off”, rather comically, rather literally, not at all successfully. S’ok. It’s very human. I breathe, and exhale, and relax, and try to make room for my fundamental humanity to coexist with my rather silly expectations of what I can (or should) do.

Time to recalibrate, give myself a break, and begin again. 🙂

Early morning. Still dark. Nothing surprising about that; autumn is approaching. There are hints of all among the leaves and along forested paths. The mornings are chilly now. The nights have cooled off. The rains are returning. November isn’t far off, and the end of daylight savings time will switch things up a bit, but for now, that’s not relevant. What is relevant is that early morning is dark now. I sip my coffee looking past the window into the pre-dawn darkness.

“Hints of Autumn” 10″ x14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, 2021

My own heart, in this moment, is filled with light. 🙂 Nice place to start the day.

Impermanence is a real thing. Darkness comes and goes. For some folks, there often seems more “darkness” than light. I think on that as I watch the first faint hints of dawn revealing the gray cloudy morning sky. The light does return. I think about that homily “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, and while I wonder whether it is literally true, I sip my coffee and observe the sky as it continues to lighten, on the way to daybreak.

The wheel continues to turn. The pendulum swings, the clock ticks. Change is. We may be mired in darkness in one moment; the sun will rise on another.

The pale gray sky beyond the window hints at rain. The clock reminds me that the work day is ahead. My coffee is mostly gone. I think about garden chores. I think about a walk later. I think about my Traveling Partner in the other room, and fill my thoughts will love and well-wishes for his day.

Another moment slips by. It’s already time to begin again. 🙂