Archives for category: Oregon Trails

This morning I am grooving to the sound of new beats from an old friend. I’m sipping my coffee, feeling relaxed, loved, and even “merry”. It’s a pleasant, leisurely Sunday morning. My pleasant moment is interrupted by a commercial interruption on Soundcloud; an ad break between tracks. I roll my eyes, look for any chance to skip it (that doesn’t amount to paying for a subscription to a rarely used service), and settle on ignoring it for the required 31 seconds. It’s a distraction, and not a pleasant one; this is “where we are” culturally – our attention held in servitude to commercial endeavors, with or without our consent.

I sip my coffee and think about the media, my shorter attention span, the nature of likes, clicks, and views, and the monetization of human attention, and individual data. I think about our “global culture” – and how it sometimes seems “the fabric of society” is being torn apart…only… that’s just one perspective on a very complex, only somewhat shared experience. While there certainly seem to be “norms” and commonplace expectations of a dominant group in our social hierarchy being challenged, undermined, and perhaps also “misused”… There are also huge swaths of humanity who were never invited to that party, who don’t (and did not) have the advantages that are said to be being “undermined”, and for whom the system as it is has existed is punitive, hostile, prejudiced, and has long prevented them from thriving as groups. Labeled, cut-off from the benefits of “mainstream” society, and worse still often shamed for “doing it to themselves” instead of humble acknowledgement of inequities in our laws and institutions, so many people in so many places see patterns that amount to willful inhumanity. Fixing that mess… now that’s a global challenge for a global society. Will we fix our mess before the clock runs out on humanity’s presence on this planet?

I let the beats carry my thoughts onward… sipping my coffee and a glass of water, sort of in alternation.

I think about the day’s housekeeping tasks ahead of me. I think about getting a walk in on some nearby trail – if the day warms up just a little. I think about maybe baking brownies and trying a different recipe, seeking that exceptional brownie result. None of these thoughts, however delightful, have anything whatsoever to do with the actual outcome; that requires some verbs. Real action. Choices. Follow-through.

…Another fucking advertisement begins to play in the background. I do not give a shit about the advertiser or the product. I tune it out…

Patterns in my life; I do housekeeping on Sundays, generally. When I write, most of the time, I write in the morning. There is a cadence, a rhythm, to the day-to-day, and to each week. When I write, or think, or reflect, or daydream, there is often some kind of thread that connects my thoughts. When I struggle, there is often another sort of “thread” that, once tugged, begins to unravel some bit of baggage or bullshit. Noticing a pattern, pulling on that thread, following a path; all these things lead me onward. Even these beats in my ears right now, and so also in my head, guide me along my human experience, giving me a pace, a flow, a sort of carrier wave upon which the signal that is my own individual experience can be layered. My breathing shifts; slower and more even with the chill ambient beats. Glacial. Slow perspective. Ease.

Another advertisement? Really?? Fucking hell…

The beat shifts again, energizing me, lifting me, bring a smile to my face and an eagerness to my moment. My breathing is a bit faster. I feel an increasing readiness to move on with the day. There is a rhythm to the tasks and habits and routines I set for myself. It works for me, mostly. When it doesn’t, breaking down the missed moment, the lost beat, the unraveling thread into smaller parts gives me a chance to understand myself a bit better, and to creep ever closer to being the person I most want to be.

…It’s not “everything”, it’s only “something” – sometimes something is enough. 🙂 It is, at least, enough on which to begin again. 😀

Today, I’ll do my best. I’ve got a list. I’ve got all day. 🙂 It’s enough.

It’s a new year, eh? New cup of coffee here on my desk, too. New morning, new day – a Saturday. The season has turned, and Winter is truly upon us. Here that mostly means cold, wet, and rainy, with occasional flooding, and the sounds of trees cracking when the wind blows on a freezing day. Other places, other weather.

Out on a nearby trail, taking note of the recent winter storm damage; fallen trees open up new views of the sky.

It’s been a few days since I sat down to put words to a blank page. The holidays passed, as holidays do, and this is a time when best intentions set boldly of a New Year’s Eve begin to fall to the mundane, the routine, and the unexceptional – change is quite a bit of work. Did you commit yourself to some specific change or improvement in life for this new year? Are you already frustrated? I try to avoid “resolutions” – it just hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally. Still, this year I do want to “do more, better” – and be more that person I most want to be. It wants a new beginning, though, because I am deeply flawed, fundamentally very human, and entirely capable of bad decision-making, errors, and falling short of expectations and commitments. I’ve disappointed myself a number of times this year, once in a serious, significant, and painful way. So, as is so common, I set myself to putting things right as the new year approached, and tried to sort out what really crap-tacular shit is holding me back, and what baggage I can maybe put down , and what things I can do better, generally. I’m back in therapy, working on difficult specifics.

What sorts of changes am I looking for, this year, myself? It’s an assortment. Last year I got in 1 mile per day (average) over the second half of the year (started in July, finished on 12/31/21). This year I’m going for 2 miles per day, all year. 730 miles. On foot. I mean… it’s not “all that”. People do through hikes that are far longer, and conquer those in shorter time. 🙂 For me, working from home full time, during a pandemic, 2 miles a day on foot still manages to feel like a (healthy) stretch, particularly if I am making a legitimate attempt to do some portion of that every single day. So. I’m doing it. I’ve at least started. I sip my coffee and wonder if I’ll give up, or feel inclined to “cheat”. (There is no “cheating” on such things; either I succeed or I fail. Miles on foot are miles on foot. Doesn’t mean there won’t be something within me inclined to wonder if I could “find an easier way”. I’m very human.) Various other small things; get more done with less bitching (housekeeping shit, I mostly mean), really embracing the direct personal value to my quality of life that those efforts have, and maybe stop fucking resenting the necessity. That gets super tedious for me, even from within. “Do more, bitch less” seems a good place to begin. So far this year, I’ve been hitting the mark there pretty well, just making a bit more effort, with a bit less resistance to the effort required. It does seem to make things actually easier.

I’ve got bigger changes in mind, too. This partnership means the world to me. My Traveling Partner is special in my heart. Surely I could be a better partner? Better friend? Better human being to make a life with? I mean… there may be some things about me that may not improve much, however I fuss and practice, but that can’t be what stops me from growing and improving in all the ways I can improve, right? PTSD and brain trauma are for sure ass-kickers, as life challenges go, but I’m not without potential, and I’m pretty wonderful in so many other ways – there’s no legitimate reason to allow my issues to define me, or hold me back from making more progress, and walking my path with future successes in mind.

I wrote a bunch more words, deleted those when I noticed that my mind was wandering, and my words had become… unfocused? Purposeless? Too… something. My Traveling Partner stops by to invite me to share an experience with him later – doesn’t matter what sort, really, it’s the invitation to enjoy each other that matters most. Sounds like fun. I enjoy his company, and sharing time and activities. I smile after he walks away; we’re both pretty grumpy first thing in the morning, and don’t always want to “deal with people” – including each other. It’s a wonderful morning when we’re already exchanging smiles by 8:00 am on a Saturday, and making suggestions for shared experiences to enjoy.

Other than one errand I plan to run this morning, I’m hoping to spend most of the day here in the studio (painting, instead of writing). It’s a good day for it, I think, rainy, cold, dreary… the bright lights in the studio are probably good for my emotional wellness in winter months. 🙂 I’ll make cocoa… and begin again.

Today’s emotional weather forecast seemed sunny, clear, and breezy. Forecasts are not always accurate. Reality is not always according to plan. Moments are what they are. This moment? Me, now? Partly cloudy with hints of storm clouds on the horizon, which is to say, I’m in kind of a shitty mood. What is most aggravating about that, at present, is that there is no real reason for that to be the case, that is at all obvious to me. I’m feeling rather cross, and I’m not up for bullshit, today. :-\

I had a lovely walk. It was hard, though, to focus on the surroundings; the trail was rather crowded, and with a lot of families and children. So, while the healthy exercise was… healthy… it was also unfortunately very “people-y”, as well, and thus not at all what I was going there for. My ankle ached the entire distance. My headache joined me about midway, and has been loyal to a fault ever since.

Yeah, buddy, I get it, I really do.

I arrived home after some errands, and my walk, and enjoyed a bite of lunch with my Traveling Partner. He didn’t hang out with me very long, and although I “feel fine” in every practical respect (aside from this aching ankle, and my persistent headache), I guess something about my vibe just feels off, from the vantage point of trying to hang out with me. I didn’t fight it. He headed to his shop. I ran another errand, came home, and had a pleasant shower. Still have this headache. Ankle still aches. Back has started to ache, too. All quite “within specifications” for my day-to-day experience of wellness and relative comfort, and there’s nothing much to do about any of that. I take a handful of ibuprofen and assure myself it’s got to do something. My partner had pointed out that I sounded “stuffy”, so I take some allergy medication, too. Whatever. Maybe something will help somehow.

…I honestly just want to relax…

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why. I’m suddenly hit hard by a surprisingly visceral awareness of loss… the people who are gone… why now?? I am, for a moment, too aware that I’ll never send my mother a birthday card again. Never pick up the phone and talk to my father, or grandfather. Never grab a beer on a weekend with old buddies, now long gone. Never “get closure”… oh, so many fucked up things fit in that bucket. What a weird, hard, sharp, fierce, painful emotional moment this one happens to be. What the fuck?? Tears begin streaming down my face. This would feel like “hormones” if I were not 8 years past menopause. What kind of problematic nonsense is this shit??

I get it. I’m grieving. It’s been in my dreams, too. I don’t really know what to do with it, honestly. The timing is most peculiar, and detached from any relevant experience now. Maybe the pandemic and it’s weird vast isolation and distancing is working on my mind – maybe I just feel “lonely” in spite of being so fortunate as to spend the pandemic with my partner, loved and loving? It could be that. Wouldn’t that be enough?

…I don’t even like spending time around people all that much, so…um… whatever this shit is? Not okay.

I sigh out loud in this quiet room. I really just want to sit down and write my Mom or my Granny a long letter about oh so many things, and maybe even tucking in some photographs (remember when those were a physical thing, to hold in one’s hand?), or some small sketch or trinket or pressed flower. There’s no one to receive that letter…

And it’s time to begin again.

…Unexpectedly, just at the point of typing that period, my Traveling Partner calls to me through the closed door, “You should come out to the shop!” I reply “Okay”, and as I open the door, we meet in the hallway. His warm brown eyes scan my face attentively. I don’t recall if he explicitly asked how I was doing, but I do remember saying “I’m in pain, and I have a sad” and a handful more words, and a few tears, tumbled out. I remember saying something about “my bullshit” and “please just ignore it” (I’m too familiar with how it can spiral out of control with any measure of authentic kindness being shown, and I’m really not going for that.). I remember his hug. His reassuring presence. He shows me his finished work, and how well the CNC is working. It’s pretty cool, and a definite mood-lifter. After all… what are new beginnings for, if not to connect, to share, and to find real joy? So… yeah. I’m trying to put my bullshit aside, and enjoy these moments. There really isn’t any reason not to, and so many reasons to embrace every bit of joy life provides. I’ll guess I’ll go do that. 😉

The path ahead in life often isn’t all that clear. From one day to the next, it can very much feel like forward momentum is unpredictable, chaotic, and fraught with unexpected trail hazards, literal pitfalls, and lacking a map, shit gets… complicated. Practicing healthy practices, particularly those associated with mindfulness, and good self-care, definitely help keep me on the path, but it’s still a journey without a map.

…How do I get from wandering (with purpose) to… orienteering?

I found myself thinking over what kinds of small things motivate me most – those little personal celebrations of milestones and goals achieved that serve to bolster my resolve – and support my resilience. I think about diet and exercise. I think about staying on track to meet various personal and professional goals. I consider meaning, purpose, intention, and will.

The path ahead isn’t always obvious.

Two nights in a row of relatively poor sleep. Brain grinding away on whatever it can’t let go of until the next day. Nightmares (war… pandemic… civil unrest… it’s all a bit much, and it’s finally hit my sleep). Funny thing is, somehow, I’m managing to make use of the chaos and anxiety to prompt some needed self-reflection, and re-assess some values, some goals, some ways of getting from points A to points B, and beyond.

It’s gotten me more serious about healthy exercise, again. I’ve resumed daily walks with more enthusiasm and real joy, and found some fun in my dumb bell workout and step exercises. Honestly? I’d like to be around, and healthy, a long time – and spend that with my Traveling Partner in good health and good cheer. 🙂 I found an exercise challenge app I like, and that’s helpful for a bit of “gamification” to motivate me further. (I’m not linking it, because I haven’t used it long enough to endorse it.) This is something that works for me, at least during an initial “habit building/rebuilding” process. 🙂

…Also… why would I not choose an opportunity to have some fun, at all? Fun is good, right? Joy? Also good, yeah? I’m not feeling like dragging around more misery, or punishing myself for not being good enough to clear some high hurdle I stupidly set for myself. lol I just want to enjoy a sunny day, some fresh air, and the flowers along the way. 🙂 Isn’t that enough to be something worth doing? 😀

Apps come and go. Fitness trackers, too, wax and wane in popularity nearly as often as the moon phases change. I find it rather obviously okay to change with the changing times, and with the changing tools. Change is a thing. People know about it. 😉

Anyway… it’s a lovely day to begin again, to make a choose, to course correct, to choose a new path… to turn the page.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

You are your own cartographer. You get to write your own map. Your results may vary – but they’re yours. ❤ Maybe it’s time to begin again?

Apparently the NOAA has determined that July 2021 was not just the hottest month of the year so far, nor the hottest in the recent decade. Nope. Bigger than that; it is the hottest the globe has been in (recorded) history. G’damn, that’s fucking hot. Now, you can dispute science if you choose to, but in this case, we’re just talking about data entry. Tracked numbers. Observations over time. I’m just saying… it’s fucking hot, and getting hotter. The weather all around the globe is weird and getting weirder.

…We could have done better by this planet than we have. I sure hope it isn’t too late to do better (enough) now…

I’m going camping next week. I’ll head out on Sunday, and don’t plan to return before Wednesday afternoon. I’m eager to get some solo time out in the trees (yes, even in the heat of summer). No news feed. No cell signal. No work. No work interruptions. No interpersonal stress, or miscommunications. No “interpersonal” anything, really. Me, the heat, the trees, the chipmunks (plague?), the squirrels (hantavirus?), the deer (ticks! lyme disease?)… I’ll just keep my distance. There’ll be plenty of that.

A different camping trip, a couple years ago; it’s been too long.

The heat is hard on me, though, I admit that. I’m in less pain of the specifically osteo-arthritis variety, but more, other pain – anything aggravated by the heat. I feel “puffy” and sluggish. Effort seems to require more effort. The heat is hard on my Traveling Partner, too, and since he is out in the shop, working in it, trying to stay focused, work with care, and get shit done, he’s sometimes cross, sometimes frustrated. I know it isn’t personal. (I can’t help but think he’ll enjoy a couple days of uninterrupted shop-time, particularly if the weather cools somewhat, as the forecast suggests it may.)

This morning, I went out to the car, and noticed one tire was weirdly low. I mentioned it to my partner who insisted, after filling it, that I go get it checked out so he won’t worry about it while I’m on the road. I agree to do that, although I was of a mind that it was probably “nothing”. I was entirely correct about that, too, if by “nothing” I meant that there was screw stuck in my tire that would likely result in a proper flat or a blow out on the road, if I didn’t get it repaired straight away. (Which is not what I meant by “nothing”, at all, and I was supremely grateful that my partner insisted.) I went ahead and got the oil changed (overdue) while I was at it, and had some basic (also overdue) service done. How did I fall behind on this?? I wonder, and then I let it go; truth is, there’s been so much “getting done” of shit in the past year, that it’s surprising that more hasn’t fallen through the cracks, than has. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go. “Doing my best” isn’t about doing all of the things, promptly and skillfully, without ever having a “queue” of pending shit to do piling up. It’s about doing what I actually can, as well as I actually can, and being as okay with that outcome as I am able to be. I am human, not machinery.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Speaking of a list of things to do, my list of things to do before I go camping is still longer than I’d like it to be. Probably won’t get to all of it, but I will make a point to prioritize those things most likely to aggravate my partner in my absence. (I rather like that guy, and I’d like to do my part to ensure my time away is also “down time” for him!)

…I guess that makes it time to begin again, in spite of the heat of the day.