Archives for category: Oregon Trails

It’s time to pay the bill. Every fun thing in life, every journey, every dream ever pursued, involved a cost. An investment in time, will, money, effort – coasting through life is an option, of course, but I suggest taking a second very careful look at the lives of those you think may be “coasting” through life. It’s not likely that they actually are, however different their choices may be from your own. πŸ™‚

There’s a place I know, where the rules are different, and the world seems built of love.

I spent the weekend wrapped in love, in the company of friends and my loving Traveling Partner, in a space temporarily re-made for the purpose. DJs, artists, vendors, and fans gathered. Family. Friends. Artists. Musicians. Dreamers. Visionaries. Performers. A small festival of like-minded folk, gathered in the forest to camp, dance, play, and experience life re-made to an alternate purpose. We celebrated. Even in hard times, celebration is a worthy endeavor – perhaps most of all in hard times. πŸ™‚

Put as much effort into celebrating as you do into working – or bitching – the return on that investment is so worthwhile!

I bailed on the fun a bit early. Friday was amazing, if rainy. Saturday was just… wow. Sunshine, forest, good company (a great breakfast) a feeling of purpose… I felt elevated, uplifted, and if not enlightened, surely I felt “made of light”. It was quite lovely – until my arthritis finally reminded me of years and injuries, and my joints began to stiffen quite irresistibly. I grabbed my cane as soon as my mobility became actually impaired. I didn’t really sleep on Friday night, ever, the music went all night, so did the fun, and although I grabbed a couple naps, it wasn’t enough to keep me from becoming fatigued. By late afternoon Sunday, on top of my arthritis, my legs began to remind me of other issues, and my steps and gait became affected, by those, compounded by my fatigue. The cane wasn’t going to be enough to get me through the night. I checked in with my Traveling Partner about “calling it” early and heading home. We were having so much fun it was a hard choice to make, and I wasn’t up to it without a bit of reassurance that he’d also rather I take the best care of myself, versus forcing myself to stick it out, slowly becoming miserable and putting that delicious vibe at risk, or wrecking my own delightful experience of the weekend. We were having an amazing good time together! It was hard to walk away from that. He is ever the supportive partner, and agreed that if I was already feeling worn down or struggling with impaired movement, it made sense to call it good and head out – if I were up to the drive. He offered me his place if I wanted to just go get some sleep and hit the road in the morning. Something nagged at me that it was likely a better idea to make the drive that evening…

What the hell? I hate late evening driving; it becomes night driving, and my night vision is frankly not ideal. Shit. Really? Am I going to do this? Yep. Doing it. I drank more coffee and hit the road.

The drive was uneventful. I took regular breaks at pre-determined times and locations. At the one point that sleepiness started to blur my vision, I stopped, got a big bottle of cold water (once it was clear iced-coffee was not to be had, there) and got back on the road. Water for the win. I didn’t expect that – and now I know to keep it in mind. I was thirsty, more than sleepy, apparently. I made good time, and the drive was stress free. Win and good.

This morning I woke at 4:30 am. I went back to sleep, after bumbling to the bathroom and back rather awkwardly. The somewhat less than 4 hours of sleep I’d had weren’t going to be adequate rest. I woke again around 6 am. Again, I went back to sleep. I finally woke shortly after 9 am or so, and got up. I experienced a moment of immense gratitude as I stood. It was the right choice to have made the drive the night before; it took real effort to get out of bed. Pain. Stiffness. More effort to slowly go through the motions of a morning routine. I’m still moving terribly slowly, with much effort. Everything hurts. Everything is stiff. Nothing is easy. “Freedom of movement” feels like nothing more than an advertising slogan. I feel as if I were the unfortunate recipient of a serious beating I don’t recall getting. lol This morning, I add sore muscles to the arthritis pain. I nonetheless happily “pay the check” for a delightful weekend of music, dancing, and enjoying the company of friends out in the woods. Totally worth it. I knew it wasn’t going to be any sort of “freebie”, and I took the time off I needed to, to make the best possible recovery before work. (I’m off tomorrow, too. πŸ™‚ )

Painfully sore muscles. Aching joints that don’t move freely. Fatigue. A few hours of driving. A few dollars in gas money, meals, and gear. Time. Totally 100% worth the price spent to enjoy the time I did. I focus on that, and try to sort out which is the wiser choice right now; a nap (I’ve only been awake for 2 hours), or a nutritious meal (that it going to be painful to prepare, but I probably should have something…)? Time to get back to all the adulting. lol

I make another coffee, I start another “to do” list. I begin again.

Well, damn. It’s Tuesday, after a long weekend with a Monday off. Shit. It’s time to be getting back to the grind. No fun little emoji for this one; there’s real effort involved. lol

I sip my coffee purposefully, and still smiling. It was a lovely weekend. Right down to the discovery that the tires I had to buy (on Labor Day, when very nearly every tire place, specifically, is apparently closed), actually provided a noteworthy improvement in handling, and an obvious reduction in noise, and may even be improving my gas mileage. Ideally, I would not have had to buy a set of tires for the car until much closer to winter weather… but… buying them sooner also got me a better deal. πŸ˜€ So… there’s that.

I spent time in the company of a friend on the other side of town (a former colleague, and collector of my art work), catching up, and repairing a painting that is dear to us both. It was totally worth the drive across town and back. Friendship nearly always is, which makes it worth mentioning. πŸ™‚

It wasn’t a fancy weekend. I didn’t spend much money (other than the tires). I did a couple lovely day hikes, took some pictures, took a class, and mostly spent my time in the company of the woman in the mirror, getting deeply rested, and taking time for me. It was so worth it.

The weekend begins and ends with stray sunflowers, planted by squirrels or chipmunks. πŸ™‚

I’m ready to begin again. πŸ˜€

Yesterday was lovely. Relaxed. Relaxing. Spent in a leisurely way on leisure activities, generally. Most of the weekend has been, actually. Each time something specifically not leisure got my attention, I put it to rest pretty firmly. I let my sleep cycle be whatever it was, too; naps are wonderful. Naps leading to long nights of delicious slumber are pretty spectacular, too. Any worries that my early morning weekday routine might get broken was “put to rest” (lol) this morning, when I woke, well-rested, at 2:47 am. Close enough to 3:00 am… and 3:00 am is close enough to 4:00 am. Today is the last day of my long weekend, and I woke quite naturally fairly close to the ludicrous early hour I typically wake. πŸ˜€ Splendid.

…Amusingly enough, I crashed hard last night sometime around 6:00 pm. I woke at 11:00 pm and considered getting up… instead, I went back to bad and slept deeply for several more hours. Hikes every day. Yoga. Taking up Qigong. Walking more. I’ve been putting in some time and attention on getting my activity level up where it needs to be to reach my fitness goals. Exerting the effort amounts to work, work leads to fatigue, fatigue requires rest, the need to rest results in feeling tired, which leads to sleep…and I do enjoy quality sleep. A weekend well spent. πŸ˜€

I have had opportunities to explore pretty much all the hours of the day over this weekend. Afternoon and mid-morning napping fairly reliably leads to wakefulness in the wee hours of morning, or late into the evening. I’ve spent them meditating, writing, reading… I’ve spent the hours of my days quite well. It’s lovely to look back on.

From my vantage point this morning, it feels I have gotten back on track on any number of little things that matter to me. I’m waiting on one more; I tinkered with my old Gear Fit2 fitness tracker and managed to bring it back to life. I woke this morning to a 100% charge on it (it hadn’t been taking a charge for a long while, then I forgot all about it in a drawer). Ah, but of course; updates. Well, shit. I’ve been looking at this 56% completed status for a while now… Will it? Won’t it? I try not to watch it. lol

Feeling “ready” to get back on track is a different place to be than yearning for it, or planning on it, or figuring I ought to do something about… something. Real readiness almost seems to handle business without any input from me; the inputs are implicit, and already exist, everything is down to verbs now. Readiness doesn’t hesitate over a fucking verb. πŸ˜‰ I’m eager to see where this leads. Incremental change over time sometimes feels so slow. Mostly, actually. Painfully slow. Discouragingly slow. There are, though, occasional steps forward that feel a bit bigger – like suddenly lurching forward and finding oneself several steps ahead, upon returning to a more natural gait… or… like falling. Or jumping. Springing forward unexpectedly, and resuming the slow steady pace from a different starting point. It feels good, and in spite of hesitating to trust it and fully embrace it, it feels like real progress.

These are only feelings; there are still verbs involved. My results may still vary. My journey remains my own. My choices continue to matter.

I’ve still got to walk my own path.

56%? Shit. Still? Well… it’s more than half way. πŸ™‚ As starting points go, it has promise. What if it’s just stuck and can’t go further? Well… I guess a factory reset, another attempt at the updates, and see where that takes me. Seems a good approach. Why would I give up entirely in the face of real progress, even when faced with a set back? Well… I wouldn’t. πŸ™‚ I’ll most definitely be mildly frustrated if, after even that effort, my fitness tracker is no kidding just dead; it would mean shopping for another, and honestly, it’s a bad time for that – I just bought a car, and need to be very careful with money until I’m sure I’ve got my budget back on track. Wholesome adulting. I mean… the thing that brings a budget successfully to life isn’t the budget or the planning or the review of all the details and the careful documentation – it’s the choices I make that are rooted in that planning and decision-making. If I just do the planning and don’t live out the plan using my choices and actions? It’s just time spent on a spreadsheet, without any meaning. Busy work. The same thing that fails new year’s resolutions for most people is exactly the same thing that fails so many budgets; the simple failure to make those choices in the moment, in real life.

So many choices. So many verbs.

So much to “track” as an adult… so much to manage… so much to do… so much to care for and about… I am feeling particularly grateful to feel so well-rested. Small things stay small, freeing me to consider bigger things without any particular stress. πŸ™‚

Then, there’s always technical support… sometimes, help is good to have. πŸ™‚ After staring at “56%” for nearly an hour, through the entire process of waking for the day, making coffee, meditating, writing… I checked for online solutions. Read a support article. Noticing nothing seemed quite on point for the issue at hand occurred just at the same time that the Live Chat prompt popped on my screen. Sure. Why not? Precisely 7 minutes later… the update is completed. The device functions once more. πŸ™‚ So basic: ask for help when you need help. πŸ˜€

Feeling good on a Monday; I feel very much that I’m “back on track”. If nothing else, I am, at least, back on tracker. πŸ˜‰ It makes a great beginning.

I don’t honestly feel at all like sleeping on the ground, or dealing with overnight chill, or having to use vault toilets or a hole in the ground… or… any of the things that go along with camping, really. Not this weekend. I do, however, very much feel like hiking a few miles alone with my thoughts. πŸ™‚ It’s nice having the car. It’s nicer that it is my own, and of the sort far more appropriate to trail heads and rougher roads than the luxury sedan I’d been driving. (None of that diminishes my gratitude for having the use of my partner’s car for a year; I needed it, he was right.) The weekend is my own, and I’ll go where I please, travel the roads I like, and find the miles that suit me most to wander.

I sip my coffee and consider my rather lengthy list of hikes I’d like to take. I decide I’d rather not drive more than an hour this morning, having slept a bit later than I expected to, and also wanting to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning. My smile becomes a grin contemplating the luxury of being able, if I chose, to also just get in the car and drive down to my Traveling Partner’s location, and visit him there. Any time. There is nothing to stop me doing so, and no one to whom I must answer. That feels amazing. I sit with the feeling and the awareness awhile longer; I haven’t always truly had the freedom to be accountable primarily to myself, only, and it’s an intoxicating level of adult freedom.

This is a weekend of choices. One of those is that I chose to invest in my longer-term emotional and physical wellness by making this particular weekend mostly about self-care, also. Yesterday was spent advocating for important social issues as a citizen, and getting ample rest as a human being. Today? Today I want to get out into the trees, put some miles behind me, take some pictures, find some solitude and relief from the din and background noise of the world. Tomorrow, too. Even Monday (after my first Qigong class, fairly early in the morning). Something about the car I’d been driving was keeping me from hiking in some subtle way. (I think perhaps my reluctance to leave a largish luxury car parked at a trailhead and at risk of break-ins, when it wasn’t even my own car, was a bit of baggage I didn’t manage well.) The Mazda fairly begs to be left-along-the-side-of-the-road-back-soon-I-promise at every trail head I spot on every drive I take. lol I literally want to just park it, however abruptly, hop out and walk down each unexpected mystery trail just to see where they lead. πŸ˜€ This bodes well for future fitness, and I’m not inclined to fight it – I just want to get out there, and explore the world on foot, with a significant lack of human companionship.

New beginnings aren’t just an assortment of lovely sunrises, or yet another work shift, or one more morning waking from one more night of sleep; there are opportunities here for growth, change, and transcendence. These are chances to work through past pain, to set down more baggage and walk on – both metaphorically, and for real. What was yesterday about? Can I do better today? What choices does that take? How does this particular morning hold the potential to see me become more the person I most want to be at the end of this particular day? It’s a process filled with verbs, and my results vary. Still, I get as many chances to begin again as there are sunrises – or moments. There are choices involved.

I’m ready. It’s time to grab a map. πŸ™‚

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™‚