Archives for category: Oregon Trails

Sipping my coffee and feeling a tad sluggish and disengaged this morning. I am contemplating all the many things I think want to do, experience, or change. From this vantage point of “feeling disengaged”, it suddenly seems quite overwhelming to want to both “be very good at my work” and also “improve my fitness and emotional wellness”. Fuuuuuck… there are a lot of verbs wrapped up in those two things, and my list is longer than those! Suddenly I just want to walk on a beach somewhere – hot or cold – and just be. I feel… exhausted. Makes no sense. I’m resting, aren’t I? My sleep is okay, isn’t it? I sigh out loud in this quiet place where my day has started.

…I check my fitness tracker for data, instead of relying on impressions and emotions…

Over the past month I’ve averaged 7 hours or so of sleep per night, and the change in medication has resulted in the sleep I get being much more restful. That’s good news. Looking closer I also see that there are a couple noteworthy outliers – nights that I slept more than 9 hours. When I eliminate those (3 nights), the average amount of sleep I’m actually getting is only 6 hours. Endurable but not ideal (for me personally). Okay, so maybe I really am tired. No point taking fatigue personally.

I find myself imagining driving some great distance and parking alongside a sunny meadow on a quiet lane and napping in my car. lol To be “nowhere doing nothing” sounds incredibly enticing right now.

…I find myself “in this place” kind of a lot…

I take a breath. I grab a bottle of water. I stretch. I think about fitness and emotional wellness – maintaining my health sort of allows everything else to fall into place more easily, and keeps challenges feeling quite manageable, generally. The changes to my medication have done a lot of reduce my anxiety and improve my energy and the quality of my rest. What am I missing? Exercise? I’m getting more of that too – and it feels good. A healthy diet? Definitely eating a more healthy diet, and it shows. I’m even drinking more water. So… what’s missing?

Cognitive rest matters more than I sometimes think about. Not just sleep, but actually giving my brain sufficient “down time” to process buffered information, and to rest/recharge/rebuild – and I’m pretty bad about making sure I get enough of that sort of rest. The new medications help, but I go from the cognitive busy-ness of a work day to the cognitive busy-ness of hearing about everything going on in the shop for my Traveling Partner, and then pump additional information into my head through my eye balls on top of that. Day after day, night after night – and I’m doing it without quite enough sleep. It’s too much, and it’s that simple. This need for (and lack of) cognitive rest is the primary driver of most of my trips out to the coast, my camping trips, and my time out on some trail with my camera. I’m just seeking internal quiet.

Giving myself a few minutes in the morning to really think about what I need to thrive, and listen to the woman in the mirror, goes a long way to meet the need for stillness… but it’s not “a cure”. This morning, I get to the end of my “me time” with a yawn, and a third cup of coffee.

It’s time to begin again.

Note: this is a long one (>1500 words), figured you might want to know that before you get started. LOL

I’m on the coast with my camera for a couple days solo. I definitely need this sort of break from the day-to-day relatively frequently – one of my most easily identified regrets in life as an adult is that I waited so long to begin making a point to take this time for myself. I’m fortunate that my Traveling Partner recognizes the need, too, and supports me taking care of myself. The change in my medications has been a good thing, generally, but it also seemed to have accelerated my need to “take a couple days” to pause and reflect deeply on my experience, and to indulge in some time spent alone with my thoughts.

My timing is a bit awkward for this getaway; it’s the weekend before Giftmas. My Traveling Partner’s planned work while I am away was almost immediately derailed by a fulfillment error in a part shipped for his CNC machine; it’s the wrong part, which stalls the build entirely while he waits for that to be replaced. Fuck. Furthering his frustration, a recently added (and carefully measured & placed) outlet turns out to be in a less than ideal location (even after taking tremendous care with measuring) and has to be moved. The end result? Well, I potentially should have planned ahead for a couple days after the fucking holidays, if nothing else. …But…I really was seriously struggling to get acclimated to the new medications (and change in timing of existing medications), and I was feeling very short-tempered and cross with… just every-damned-thing, honestly, and wanted to be well away from people in general. So… good timing? Poor timing? Hard to be certain.

I visited some interesting places. The gulls at Boiler Bay were happy to pose for me.

I am certain my partner misses me. I feel very loved. His attentiveness at a time when we both expected minimal contact with each other for reasons isn’t unwelcome – and it forces me to explicitly practice reasonable boundary setting with the one human being in my life with whom I most definitely struggle to do so; my partner. He can’t see what I’m up to when I’m away, so it’s entirely on me to choose to take a look at a message, or to set my “do not disturb” setting on my phone, or set expectations that I am – or am not – available to chat. That’s not even unexpected or unreasonable; it’s part of skillful adulting. Just happens that some of the emotional debris of my trauma history results in some fairly poor boundary-setting with those closest to me, and it’s something I need to practice. Kind of a lot.

Here’s one way this matters, as an example. I won’t text while I’m driving (it’s very dangerous), so if he messages me while I’m in motion, I often find myself parking the car to respond without even checking in with myself whether the conversation even needs to happen in real-time (most often it does not, and frankly when it does he calls me so we can just talk hands-free). It can add a crazy amount of “travel time” to a short errand if I fail to communicate that I’m driving and he’s not aware that I am; he will just go on having a conversation with me that feels reasonable to him, while I seek out a parking spot every couple minutes like I’m lost or something. LOL I even know this is neither necessary nor practical; it’s something I need to work on. Just one example of why the expectation and boundary setting can matter so much. There are for sure others.

…I’m working on it…

When I am reading, writing, painting – all of which require focus – I sometimes get exceedingly frustrated with interruptions. Same when I’m “at work”, at home. Interruptions wreck my focus. This is not “a me thing”, it’s true for a lot of people (including my partner, when he’s reading, or doing complex calculations, or taking measurements). Interruptions break focus. Well… who “owns” that? I think if a clear boundary and clear expectations have been set, the person doing the interrupting owns that shit, and it’s pretty rude (if there’s no actual emergency). More often than not, though, I find that I’m the one who has erred in some way, by failing to ensure that I have set a clear expectation that I’m not available, along with a reasonable explicit boundary established with regard to interruptions of specific sorts of things. It’s for sure not reasonable to be irked with someone who did not know I was engaged in focused work, or needing to be left alone awhile, if they interrupt me unaware of those details.

In more succinct terms, if I don’t silence my ringer it’s not fair to be annoyed with a person who calls me at a bad time; I had another option that would have preserved my focus!

My earliest beach walk began at “first light”.

Yesterday, in the morning, I left for the coast before dawn. I arrived far earlier than “early check-in” for my hotel room (because the prior night’s guest hadn’t even checked-out yet). I spent the morning walking beaches and taking pictures, and in between I drank coffee while warming up in my car. Chilly morning. I drank 3x as much coffee as I generally do, and I expected I’d most likely messed up my sleep, later, but… nope. I checked into my room before 1 p.m., and managed to crash twice for longish naps, and then still went to bed early (like, for real early – around 7:30 p.m.). I slept deeply, waking around 3 a.m. to pee and immediately went back to sleep.

I made a point of snapping a picture of the holiday lights on the restaurant near the hotel during the wee hours. (It’s not a great picture; I was half asleep and never put on my glasses!)

I woke feeling quite rested, around 7 a.m. or a little after, around the time my Traveling Partner woke and pinged me a greeting. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised by how much I slept if I had felt that I was exhausted, or had felt deeply fatigued. Lacking those sensations, it caught me a bit by surprise to sleep so much. Still… it’s my time, my hotel room, I guess I can do what I like (within reason), including sleep the day away, which I definitely feel like I did, although my fitness tracker logged almost 7 miles of walking before noon. LOL

It’s been exceedingly pleasant (even luxurious) to have so little contact with other people for a couple days. The loudest sound in this hotel room is my fingers on this mechanical keyboard. (My tinnitus is infernally loud, too, but no one else would ever hear that.) The hotel staff go about their business. We don’t exchange words, just smiles; I’ve come here before and they are very respectful (and friendly if approached). I’ve managed to enjoy this trip to the coast without conversation beyond “can you fill it with regular please” or “16 oz Americano, please”. Yesterday was sunny. Today is gray and overcast. I spent yesterday sleeping (and walking and taking pictures). I’ve spent today meditating and writing (and walking and taking pictures). Time well spent all around, and mission mostly accomplished.

…I miss “home” (already), and take a few minutes to reflect with immense gratitude that I experience that feeling when I am away from the house I now live in. It’s already very much “home” – and filled with love, and memories of love, and the presence of this other human being who is so incredibly dear to me. I feel my heart fill up with my affection for my partner and spill over as “happy tears”. I am struck by how easily even the thought of this human being I love so deeply can move me with just the recollection of the love we share. That’s powerful. I miss him greatly any time we are apart – even when we are apart specifically because I just need to be alone for a while. It’s part of who I am. I am grateful that I’ve learned how to meet that need, and grateful to have a partner who “gets it”. I chuckle when I consider how often I do return home earlier than I had planned to, when I have gone, simply because I am so eager to be in the good company of my partner again. How very human. 🙂

Same location, different visit.

I watch the tides rise and fall on each of these trips to the coast. I am amazed by how much the view changes with each visit. The seasons change. The sunrise and sunset changes. The hour of the day for the high or low tide varies. The weather, too. Each detail paints the picture anew. I sip my now-cold coffee and think about that. So many variables. So many small details. I keep expecting to become bored with a single view or perspective. It hasn’t happened yet. I return to some locations with every visit just to see the view with “new eyes” on a different day. There’s something here worth understanding more deeply. I make a note on the notepad I’ve kept with me on this trip, and let my thoughts wander on.

I reflect awhile on the things that have held me back in life. Some of these were pure circumstance, others clearly my own doing or decision-making, few of them were the sort of non-negotiables that were unavoidable or immutable. I’ve had an enormous part to play in where I’ve landed in life. When I’ve chosen wisely, I’ve done well. When I’ve chosen poorly, I’ve often paid the price in consequences. This seems reasonable and “proper”, but when I reflect with care, deeply and honestly, and quite thoroughly, there have also been situations in which my good fortune “over-compensated” for my poor decision-making, and I’ve found my life improved thereby, anyway. Other times, seemingly good decision-making and actions that could be viewed as necessary, appropriate, or “right”, nonetheless resulted in… consequences of a wholly problematic sort. I have had an “enormous part to play” in where I’ve landed in life…but it’s also been a matter of “luck” more often than I can count, and some cases it’s been the help of friends or associates, or… just a coincidence that I’ve done as well as I have. Sometimes I’ve found myself standing in some unexpected moment in life struck by how unprepared I am to be there. Other times, extraordinary happenstance still manages to feel quite… ordinary. It’s hard to know in the moment which events are truly significant and meaningful, and which are simply future memories. Sometimes, when I’ve thought I was being “held back”, the passage of time has revealed how fortunate I really was to follow the path I did. Perspective has proven its worth more than once.

…My mind wanders on…

When I sat down with my notes this morning, I had some specific things I wanted to consider. I walked the beach with my camera and my little notepad, thinking, walking, pausing now and then for a tidepool, a bird, or an interesting rock. I don’t know that I “got anywhere” specific – but I wasn’t following a map, or hiking a trail with a destination, or running an errand. I was, frankly, as much as anything, just giving myself the space and time to really “hear myself think”. Was I successful? In every way I that I needed to be, sure, I think so. Is this bit of writing the outcome of all that? Mmm. Doubtful. Not in any clear cause & effect practical sense. I wasn’t seeking to develop a plan of action, or practice a specific practice, or write an essay on a topic. I just needed, rather earnestly, some solitary time to hear myself and to just be, quite as I am, without any sense of needing to chase a change or measure up to a standard. In that sense, it’s been a wildly successful bit of time away. Would a get away of this kind do wonders for you? No idea, honestly, and I’m sure it kind of depends on how well (or poorly) you are able to enjoy some solitary time – maybe that’s not your thing? Maybe you hate being absolutely alone? Your results would surely vary. Hell, my results vary and I greatly enjoy my solo time away, any chance I get make.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I check my oxygen. 99%. Nice. I take a moment to “feel where I’m at”, physically. Headache? It’s there, but not distracting. Arthritis pain? Managed. Posture? Yeah, okay. I notice it’s not great and “pull myself upright”. I gaze out the window across the mud flats of Siletz Bay – the tide is pretty low. There are a variety of water birds enjoying that, including a couple of larger birds – some kind of crane, and a heron. The gulls have taken their fun elsewhere for now. The water is flat, smooth, and very calm (what I can see), though I know if I step to the patio door and look out toward the ocean, I would see the waves gently kissing the shore.

I take a moment to reflect on a past that no longer wholly defines me (or holds me back) and to wonder what the future may hold, without becoming stranded in either. I sit quietly with my thoughts, poised in this “now” moment feeling fairly prepared to just “go with it” – whatever “it” may turn out to be. It’s a nice alternative to catastrophe, chaos, and despair. I breathe. In, then out. Then again. Some minutes later, I realize I slipped into meditation, fingers still poised carefully on the home row of the keyboard, expectantly. I’ve got a book (a couple, actually) that I also want to spend some time (reading)…

…Seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

The sun rises later these days than it did back in June. The Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. It’s quite early and I am at a local trailhead adjacent to a meadow, not far from home. I am waiting for the sunrise, drinking coffee, yawning, and wishing I had slept in. I’ve got my camera ready for my morning walk.

My morning camera walks serve a purpose; they get me out of the house with my camera for a bit of fun, exercise, and “me time”, and they also give my partner a shot at some deep sleep. (When I am asleep I sometimes snore, and when I am awake I am often a bit clumsy and noisy at least until I am fully awake). This approach works for us, but tends to be a seasonal solution. Already I have begun to resist waking up so early, where in past weeks I struggled to sleep during these early hours. The later sunrise is the culprit.

…The early hours betwixt day and night are a good time for meditation and reflection.

An orange glow begins as a thread on the horizon, becoming a sort of messy smudge as minutes pass. Still not enough light for my lens, and the trail alongside the park and meadow, which passes through a vineyard, is still quite dark. I wait. I yawn. I tried to snatch a few minutes of nap time for myself, but the mornings are now also too chilly and I don’t even doze off for a moment – I just yawn. lol

Waiting for the sunrise.

…I think about work and routines and future mornings and finish my coffee. I develop a cramp in my right foot and shift in my seat until I can easily massage it until the cramp eases. The western sky takes on hints of ultramarine and dark lavender. The eastern horizon becomes more peach and tangerine, with swaths of gray-blue clouds sweeping across the sky. This is not wasted time; I love watching the sun rise.

The dawn of a new day.

The sun is up. The coffee is gone. I’ve gotten a good walk in and snapped some pictures. My Traveling Partner sends me a message; he is awake. The day begins in earnest. I have no idea what today will bring… looks like it’s time to get started and find out. 😁

Queen Elizabeth passed away today. Good long run. An impressive legacy. She didn’t quite make it to 100 years. Seems like more people may be able to in the future, though, and perhaps longer if medical science continues to progress… how amazing would that be?

Juan and Marisa, in love on the beach in 2022… where will they be in 2083? Will their love last? What will they do with their lives? Will they be remembered?

I “went coastal” yesterday, to give my Traveling Partner (breathing)room to work on a complicated project without the unintended distractions of me just being around in the background. I don’t grudge him that time and space, and I genuinely enjoy getting away for a few solitary hours with camera in hand, walking new trails, seeing things from another perspective, and breathing the sea air. It reminds me of my Granny, and the many visits together to the seashore, or along the marshy estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. I miss her greatly, and most of all when I am “at the shore”. Any shore. That was “us” – long car drives filled with conversation, and sunny hours “at the shore”. Fuck I do miss that woman. Often. I think maybe she would be proud of how far I have come.

I feel for the loved ones of Queen Elizabeth. They didn’t just lose a monarch – they lost their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… they lost someone truly dear to them. That is painful stuff.

Traffic on the way home.

Yesterday afternoon I returned home, but my partner wasn’t finished with the work he was doing, and my excited-just-got-that-job-offer energy was definitely a distraction. After some testy unsatisfying exchanges that were well-intended and heartfelt, but painful, I suggested that I return to the coast today, and he was totally down for that. So… I did. Later, he indicated (text messaging for the win!) that he would need more time, really. So… I got a room on the coast for the night and went back to walking the beaches, stalking the birds with my camera, and feeling the sea breezes muss my hair. Frankly, I left the house this morning prepared for the potential usefulness in making a night of it, and I made a point to tuck the needed medications into my gear, and made a point of having alllll the batteries and devices charged up, and even took my laptop along with me (figuring that might be handy on an overnight). I even remembered spare socks and underwear. 😀 I didn’t go as far as packing an overnight bag, though now I wonder why. LOL

Oh… Yes, I got an excellent job offer from a company I’m eager to work for, on a team that looks like a great fit for me. I’m excited about it. It’s just not really the most important thing today. Honestly, neither is the death of a distant monarch (however badass she was, and omg she totally was a major badass). Today is breezy, relaxed, and sunny, and I am enjoying everything about that. Doing so while also being 100% certain I am not distracting my partner while he is working? Extra good. It’s enough. More than enough. It’s quite choice, and I am enjoying the day.

Where will I be in 2083? In my grave? Forgotten? Still alive, and so old that no one around me remembers that I was once a badass? My legacy forgotten? Alive and lively, loved and cared-for, with the kind of vast historical perspective that results in day-time news shows wanting to interview me about what I personally witnessed of history? Will my Traveling Partner and I continue to travel life’s journey together through all those decades ahead? Will we be little old people slowly walking the neighborhood holding hands and talking softly, laughing loudly? The future is not written, and this journey has no map…

The journey is the destination.

My thoughts come and go like the gulls beyond the balcony rail. They appear, they pass by, leaving only the recollection of a moment. I breathe, exhale, and relax. It’s a lovely moment for contemplation.

One of the things my partner and I were discussing last night was my anxiety. For sure my PTSD and my chronic anxiety issues are pretty well-managed compared to where I was 10 years ago…but… I still struggle more than I’d like to, and it affects my quality of life – and his. I guess it’s worth doing something about that. I feel a bit stalled and struggle with the learned helplessness that inevitably results from dealing with a chronic condition for a long time. I already know, though, that there are steps to take and things to do. It’s time to step through those, and try some things differently. It was one productive outcome of our conversation; a sense of focus and purpose, and an idea of direction. That’s not nothing – it’s a place to start.

It’s a good time to begin again.

I woke early-ish, pulled on my clothes still only half awake, and grabbed my camera gear. I heard my Traveling Partner call out to me as I neared the door (“he’s awake?”) and turned back for a “see you in a little while” and a kiss. The sun hadn’t yet risen as I reached the highway heading out of town to the nearby nature preserve (great bird-watching, and well-maintained trails). Lovely morning for it, I thought to myself.

Sunrise over a misty morning along the marsh-side trail.

It’s a Sunday, and I’m thinking I’ll get out into the garden this morning. After I finish my coffee. After I upload all these photos. After I finish feeling more like relaxing than I feel like getting shit done. lol

It was a good morning for pictures of birds.

I enjoyed the drive. There was almost no traffic at all so early on a Sunday morning. I enjoyed the misty dawn and the pale pinks and peaches of the sunrise as it developed into a new day. I enjoyed the walk down the trail alongside the marsh. I enjoyed the moments, sitting quietly, watching for the next interesting picture to unfold in front of my camera lens.

I wasn’t alone on the trail. I wasn’t even the only person on the trail with a camera.

The last several times I’ve come to this location for my camera walk in the morning, I find myself parked next to the same other person. Another woman enjoying her morning walk, camera ready for action, a portable seat or cushion with her (I have a compact folding stool, myself). We greet each other as friends, at this point, and sometimes share a portion of the walk, even stopping for similar shots along our path. We talk of other locations we favor, and share experiences (“Did you see the pelicans?”, “I got a great shot of the swallows yesterday!”). We make jokes now about the morning not seeming complete if we don’t see the other person’s car in the parking lot. She has a much fancier camera and lens than I do. I mentioned how awesome it would be to have that kind of “reach”… she smiles and admits it is pretty nice, then comments that she often regrets the choice; it’s very heavy, and sometimes the weight limits how far she will walk. I admit that I enjoy the lightweight gear I’ve got so much that I don’t have any immediate plan to get a larger lens. We agree that the gear has less to do with the quality of our images than our limited skill – and our good fortune on timing and location. At some point, if we’re walking together as we were this morning, our paths will take us different directions. That’s the way of things, isn’t it? We are each having our own experience, walking our own paths, and any momentary companionship, however genial, is quite temporary. 🙂

I smile and sip my coffee. Does it taste better because I went for quite a long walk beforehand? I for sure appreciate the warmth of the mug in my hand after the chilly morning on the marsh.

Pelican. Also, swallow. This is what “luck” looks like in a photograph.

I finally see a pelican, after a couple visits to this location. People on the trail had been mentioning them for the last couple times I’ve been here, but I haven’t seen them. Probably didn’t walk far enough in the correct direction…? This morning, I see one solitary pelican. I watch for awhile, take numerous pictures, and while I was doing that, I was got seriously lucky; the pelican flared out its wings, and shook itself out in the early morning light. Amusingly, I also captured a swallow in flight in the same shot. I’ve been trying to take pictures of swallows there over the marsh for weeks without luck; they’re very fast, and swoopy. Hard to get a good picture. This time, I got several good pictures of swallows – but I didn’t know it until I got home. They just happened to be in several pictures I took of other things. LOL That’s so often the way of it, is it not? I think there’s something to be learned here.

Where does this path lead?

As the morning began to warm, more visitors appear on the trail. I turn back toward the parking lot, thinking thoughts of home, of love, and of a good cup of coffee. I think about perspective, and of a future not yet determined. I fill my lungs with the scent of meadow flowers, realizing how very much I enjoy the fragrance of wild carrot (“Queen Anne’s Lace”) and yarrow, mingling with meadow grasses and late summer wildflowers.

What a pleasant morning. I think about the garden as I sip my coffee. Seeds are selected. Crops that are finished have been cleared out, their left over leaves and stems chopped up and mulched into the bed. Crops that just didn’t do as well as I’d hoped and seem unlikely to produce a harvest this year (looking your way, melons) will be cleared away, too. Then I’ll add compost and bring the bed level up again (it compressed quite a bit after I initially filled the raised bed my partner built for me), and plant new crops for autumn harvest and for wintering over. I have a lot to learn about gardening. LOL

I sip my coffee and grin at myself at ever thinking I had any idea about “how to garden”. I’ve been gardening in my half-assed way for some 50 years… since I was a kid. My parents had a substantial garden, and I labored in it weekends and summers (mostly weeding and bitching about weeding). I had a small plot of my own that I rather foolishly planted in Jerusalem artichokes, which thrived to an unimaginable degree – cool enough and the flowers were pretty, but no one in the family actually enjoyed them as a food. So… kinda silly and as it turned out, a waste of garden space. Very low maintenance. I learned nothing much from the endeavor besides this one important lesson; grow what you will use and enjoy. That’s not nothing, but hardly worth the mammoth effort involved in keeping those ‘chokes cut back season after season. lol

I have since had small garden beds, container gardens, and patio gardens… all rather fortunately focused mostly on roses and a few herbs. Occasionally I’d grow some veggies, and get something wonderful for my efforts (supremely tasty cherry tomatoes one year, another year a bumper crop of amazing Swiss chard), but I’ve tended to be both lazy and disorganized, and prone to letting shit fall behind when the heat is worst and the garden most in need of my attention day-to-day. No excuses, and I’m not looking to rationalize my results, I’m just saying; I am not my idea of a “great gardener”.

Now I’ve got this home that is mine, and this raised bed out front that my partner built for me, surrounded by flower beds. I’ll only get the results I work for, and that’s one of life’s immutable truths, isn’t it? My partner has set me up for success, though, with a raised bed that is comfortable to work in, close to water, within constant view, and I do adore it. 😀 I find myself ready to admit I’m not a very good gardener and work toward being a better one. That’s a nice place to find myself. It’s a good place to stand, considering options and looking ahead.

It’s time to begin again.