Archives for category: Oregon Trails

What a delightful weekend! I probably couldn’t say enough about it in the time I have available before a new work day begins. It was… awesome. Fun. Warm. Merry. Chill. Exciting… so exciting. It was also characterized by disrupted sleep (see “exciting”), and a lot of stimulation (an art show, a road trip, a weekend with my Traveling Partner…). I’m quite entirely made of human, and having the issues I do, a weekend – however delightful – full of exciting moments, color, light, music, and did I mention the excitement? A weekend such as this one just past often – too often – results in some sort of major freak out or melt down of some kind. No kidding. Yep. I have “mental health issues”. Definitely. It’s one little detail that is a reminder that I put so much time and attention into my self-care for reasons, not because it is a hot new trend.

Flowers need no excuse.

The drive back to the city started well, and traffic was well-behaved, although more than usually dense. Average speed was a comfortably ordinary 70 mph. Somewhere about 2 hours (a bit less, I think) from home, a bad snarl and some congestion developed rapidly ahead of me. Like… bad. Cars were spinning out, into the median, in one case, onto the left shoulder in another, and the third skittering across three lanes while other drivers used breaking maneuvers, and attentive skillful driving to both keep moving forward, and also, not hit anyone else. No collisions. I’m making a point of reminding myself of that. I “drive ahead of myself” a good way, and saw things going awry in real-time. The driver directly ahead of me began to lose control of his SUV. I let up on the gas after tapping my brakes gently (just enough to flash the brake lights) to alert the driver behind me, and slipped between the SUV as he slid sideways out of the lane, and the car to his right, which was crowding the fast lane out of panic as the driver ahead of him braked hard, very suddenly. Oooh… so close. As traffic finally slowed to a full stop, I looked in the rearview, and around; no collisions. I’m still very surprised by that. No indication of collisions further down the road, either. What the fuck? I began to seethe as it became more clear that this was likely the result of aggressive or frustrated ass-hattery, custom made by some clueless fuck knob. My fury began to build as the traffic crept along. At some point, I lost myself in my anger. Oh, “nothing bad happened” – by which I mean I did not attack anyone, hurt myself or anyone else physically, nor did I directly or indirectly confront any individual, or group of individuals…but oh wow. The invective. The yelling by myself in the car. It was… not okay. I’d fully lost my dignity, my resilience, my sense of self… I was… gone. Lost in it. Taken over by my metaphorical demons – who finished the drive more or less without me.

I got off the freeway at the first opportunity. It helped to do so; it slowed everything down just a bit, and reduced the feeling of “crowding”. Unfortunately, at that point I was also quite triggered, highly reactive, and the state I was in was less than ideal for driving, at all. I had no understanding I could have stopped driving. I wept much the remaining drive home. “I just want to go home!” I wailed, weeping. Purposeless, frustrated, impotent tears poured down my face, even completely blinding me briefly (I had to pull off the road to wipe the sweat-salt from my eyes). I got home shaking, angry, sad – so sad. Filled with drenching hopeless sorrow. My brain straight up attacking me from all sides with my deepest insecurities, disappointments in life, and leaning in hard on anything positive, and all my good feelings and recollections – a bit as if I’d come home and been confronted by a fucking dementor, honestly. It was pretty horrible.

I numbly started doing things that felt routine, feeling pressured by those experiences, and a little forced. Going through the motions. I made a point to let my Traveling Partner know I was emotionally unwell, and that I would be offline. (It does not do well to stay online in such circumstances, not for me; I use words. lol) I simultaneously gave a quick heads up to friends that I was having a tough time, but also that I did not require support; just in case shit went crazy wrong with me during the night and spilled over into the morning, I at least wanted people to wonder if I were okay – but I didn’t want to be fucked with right then (the terms in which my thinking colored all such thoughts in the moment). Then I got to work taking care of this all-too-human creature that lives my life.

A sunny summer day in the garden, tasks, routines, patterns of light – better moments.

I took a shower. I had a big class of water. I medicated (cannabis for the win, here*). I meditated. I watered the garden. I started some laundry. I began to redirect negative thoughts to their positive counterparts; ruminations about traffic were redirected to how pleasant the drive was in other respects, and what a pleasant day it was for driving, generally, and that there were no actual collisions, for example. I reminded myself, too, that once I was dealing with a storm of emotions, not only must the storm be permitted to pass, but then, as is often the case with the weather, there’s some clean up afterward needed. Our emotions have their basis in actual chemistry. Feelings of rage? Yeah, that’s like being on a fucking drug that causes that experience. It takes time for the drug to wear off, even though the moment is past. Sorrow, too. Each blue, emotionally disarrayedΒ moment got some support, some consideration, some care and attention. It did pass. All of it passed. I felt better before I’d been home for even 2 hours. The recovery period was shorter than the emotional event. (That’s real progress!) I went to bed a bit early; I hadn’t slept well over the weekend, and all by itself poor quality sleep is enough to put me at risk of losing my emotional balance and resilience, if allowed to go on.

During the night the phone rang. Connectivity was poor at the location my Traveling Partner and I spent the weekend together, and he’d only just gotten my message. He called, concerned, to check in with me and see how I was. I answered a ringing phone during the night (I rarely do), because I went to bed expecting he might call. Partnership is lovely. I heard the warmth and love in his voice, and he heard it in mine. I was definitely okay at that point. I woke this morning, feeling rested, content, loved, and comfortable in my own skin. It’s a new morning.

A picture from a lovely summer morning hike yesterday; where will today take me?

Hell, I considered not writing about this experience, that’s how good I feel this morning – but here’s the thing; this experience is not one I’m ashamed of. I didn’t “fail” here. I managed things pretty well, actually. Somewhere, out there, there is an alternate version of this experience playing out that may not end as well, or may feel “permanent”, lacking any hope or perspective. I put these words on paper, sharing this moment, not only as a later reminder for myself that all this progress isn’t “a cure” (I need these practices, this level of self-care and self-awareness, to maintain my quality of life day-to-day.) I also put these words on paper because someone else may need to hear that there is hope, and it is possible to do better, and it is possible to find some relief – it’s within reach. There are verbs involved, no lie, but the incremental change over time has been… huge. Wonderful. A vast improvement impossible to overstate. It could have been much worse. I’m okay right now. That’s a big deal. It’s worth sharing.Β  πŸ™‚

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

*Note: It is unfortunate that cannabis is not yet fully legal, and that it is not more widely available, and easily, affordably available to more people. It is actually fairly stupid we make it so difficult for researchers to research it. Literally nothing offered to me by doctors, anywhere, has been as reliably helpful for my PTSD as cannabis has been, and for the most part side-effect free. Psychiatric pharmaceuticals were less effective for me, had horrific side effects (that included impairing me artistically, cognitively, sexually, emotionally, intellectually, and destroying my health), and didn’t actually result in an improved quality of life for me. I don’t write much about cannabis, itself, mostly because I’m not sure how to do so skillfully, and feel uncomfortable with the unsettled legal status it has in a broader sense. Having said that, I’ll be frank; when I talk about “medication” and “medicating”, if I am not more specific, I am most definitely referring to cannabis, and no, I don’t particularly care that it doesn’t come in a pill. πŸ™‚

It seems ages since the season last turned… Fall to Winter it was. An eternity it go, it seems now. I smile and sip my coffee, cold brew out of a can. My sleep was restless after foolishly sipping on a 3rd rather overly caffeinated coffee late into the afternoon yesterday. Mindlessness comes at a cost, every time. I woke with effort, groggily pulling myself from dreams that seemed more engaging than life.

For now, the day gets off to an early rather ordinary beginning for a Tuesday on a work day. Later I’ll come home, and there will be sufficient daylight for a bit of gardening, and maybe grilling something pleasant for dinner. It’s a short week, so either tonight or tomorrow will be mostly spent on housework, and getting shit together for the long weekend in the country. I smile, thinking ahead to the weekend.

A late autumn perspective. What will Spring reveal?

I open another can of coffee with a smile. Why does icy cold canned cold brew coffee taste like summertime?

Spring, already? I have plans. My intention is to camp a lot more this year. Hike a lot more. Disconnect a lot more. Having a place to go in the countryside, and the opportunity to enjoy the company of my Traveling Partner more along the way, just makes all of that seem so easy. πŸ™‚

I’d been in the practice of hiking literally every weekend for quite a long while, then, moving into my own place sort of threw off my cadence a bit; there were other things to do, and all of them fell to me, daily. Adulting is busy work. No, I mean, seriously – it’s busywork. lol I ended up spending more time on other sorts of self-care entirely. Moving away from the park, last July, definitely changed the frequency of my hiking. First, the move itself, then… oh, right, my Traveling Partner moved down south, and I gained a car – and a commute that requires one. Then being sick, and the holidays, and more being sick, and then… What the hell? Why was that enough to stop me from hiking every weekend? Oh. Right. I spend of lot of those weekends driving down and back. LOL

Still – lots of great hikes down that way, and all of them are hikes I think I want to do. Time to research, plan, look over maps, and make it part of my experience when I’m down there. Spring is here. πŸ™‚

Where will the journey take me?

Time to begin again.

I woke a bit early, showered, and made coffee. I caught up on Facebook, and disengaged as soon as I’d flipped through the posts of dear friends, because that’s all I was there to do. My weekend bag is packed for the weekend. I’m eager to the point of confusing excitement and anxiety, which also means – more, better, self-care, and closely managing behavior with an eye on the potential to reach that tipping point at which excitement might actually become anxiety, because that’s not a place I want to reach. πŸ™‚

Every weekend that I go home – and it does, at this point, feel very much more like home there, than here – I promise myself I’ll write while I’m there. I don’t. It’s not a lack of inspiration, it’s more a lack of will to pull myself from those moments even long enough to write about them (or about anything else). It tends to point to the greater urgency to truly care for myself, and be present in my relationships, over sharing the tale of the moment with others. I’m sort of sorry for that – and sort of not. I don’t think I’ve spent any other portion of my life this emotionally well, and I feel generally pretty okay aside from the signs and symptoms of aging, and physical pain associated with such things (and other similar such things that have lasted far longer than any sense of age). It used to be that I could mock my physical pain because it was nothing compared to the chaos and damage, nothing compared to my emotional pain. Weird to actually notice how very different my experience is now.

Still, here it is Friday. Last week I drove down after work, after an appointment. This week… I’m so eager to get the weekend started I am seriously considering the drive down tonight, in spite of Friday evening commuter traffic being a definite thing for the first 18 miles or so, and likely taking about 90 minutes to get past that mess. I just want to go. I want to be there, more than I want to be here. The yearning makes my heart ache, and makes me breathless with excitement.

I’m so human, though. I remind myself that each journey in life, across distance, also represents – in living metaphors, if we’ll have them – our metaphysical journey through life’s experiences. My last trip down and back was ferociously hair-raising, and uncomfortably so. I’ve been working on the specifics of my emotional experience as a driver on American roads in my commuting. This is no different. I consider my intention. Get there safely. Get there without wrecking my emotional experience. Get there while also following traffic rules. Driving with the average speeding of traffic, neither slowing things down by being needlessly slow, nor screwing with the flow of things generally by aggressively insisting on going faster than the average speed of traffic. Considerate. Polite. Skillful. Safe. Purposeful. Alert. Aware. Unaggressive. Not taking things personally. Mindful we are each having our own experience. Arriving at my destination still happy I made the trip and feeling something other than profound relief to have arrived alive. πŸ™‚ Gotta have goals. πŸ˜€ Committed to the journey, not the outcome. Not the time or the timing. Drive the drive, and enjoy that process first. Get there when I get there, and enjoy that then.

I’m so ready to begin again. Are you? Where will the journey take you?

I woke much earlier than my alarm. Early enough to do yoga, shower, dress, and make an Americano before my alarm would have gone off. I’m quite alert and wide awake, and feel rather as if weeks and weeks of fatigue and illness are finally behind me. Still have the weird headache. Still have more future appointments to deal with it. Still have the arthritis pain. Still bitching about that. It is morning. I am human. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly, noting how good it is this morning and just really enjoying that. It is a Friday, tomorrow is the weekend. I feel relaxed and at ease – because, partly, I’ve chosen to practice having this experience of relaxed contentment, learned to build and sustain that over time, and it’s become (if not my default “state of being”) quite common to feel this way. It is a huge improvement over being mired in despair, chronically frustrated, and wondering endlessly what the point even is to living. πŸ˜€ I’ll straight up say it; I got here with my choices. I got here with practice. There were – and are – verbs involved. Practicing practices is an ongoing thing; this is not a task, these are processes. This is me, living my life, and my results vary – right now, this moment here? It’s very pleasant. πŸ™‚

There is stuff yet to do. Housekeeping. Tidying up. Maintenance. Repairing, cleaning and maintaining. lol There’s also brunch with a friend, hang out time with another, and perhaps a lovely hike with a new camera on a pleasant Sunday morning. πŸ˜€ I get to choose. πŸ™‚

I’m ready to begin again. Let’s start this day!

What a peculiar few days (couple of weeks?) it has been. I haven’t done anything particularly noteworthy… I go to work. I return home. I meditate. I read. I do just enough yoga to continue to use all my joints. I do just enough housekeeping to stay mostly fairly tidy. I don’t feel mired in sorrow, or at all blue. I’m just dealing with more pain than usual. It takes a lot out of me. I feel less like going anywhere or doing anything, once I’ve managed to put a work day behind me. Weekends aren’t much different; more meditation, more reading, no work of the employment sort, lots more squirrels, still managing pain.

I miss my Traveling Partner, but I am glad I’ve taken the time to get rested. I’m even, generally, sleeping (mostly) through the nights, and getting to bed at an hour that ensures I’ve gotten adequate rest. It’s something. Right now, it’s enough. Clearly I’ve been needing the rest. I’ve even finally gotten entirely over all of whatever contagious crud has been going around. Other than the pain I am often in, I feel pretty good. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee. The weather seems already inclined to turn toward spring. I’ve begun carrying the new camera with me everywhere. I look ahead to the weekend, another on which I will be generally at home. I’ve brunch plans Saturday with a friend that will take me an hour across town – which, these days, hardly seems like a drive at all. lol I’ve got a ticket to a concert Saturday night.Β In between those, regularly planned time hanging out with another friend. Busy Saturday. Sunday looks like a good day for rest and laundry – or a hike! If the weather holds up, Sunday could be a lovely day to take the camera on her first outing into the trees down some near-ish trail. A plan begins to take shape.Β  πŸ˜€

I smile into my coffee as I take a moment to recognize I’ve probably been quite slowed down just by the fact that it is winter – that’s a thing, it happens to all kinds of creatures, our seasonal clocks don’t all affect us the same way. I don’t consider myself someone with any sort of profound seasonal affective symptoms, but I am still a mammal, a primate, a living creature with circadian rhythms, and it is still winter. πŸ™‚

…I’ve got a plan to begin again. This morning, that’s enough. πŸ™‚