Archives for category: pain

I hurt today. I hurt when I woke up this morning. It’s autumn, leading into winter, the weather is chill and damp, and the arthritis in my spine is delivering on the annual promise of pure nearly unrelenting misery for the winter for the moment.

Perspective is a funny thing; we build our subjective experience on a web of sensations, assumptions, wishful-thinking, and straight up lies we tell ourselves, which, over time seem very convincingly true and real. We rarely pause to reconsider any of it, and sort of just bumble along thinking we’re right, most of the time. So… it’s not true.

I’m not always in pain. I’m not even always in pain all winter, ever winter.Β I’m certainly in pain more often I’d like. I’m most definitely in pain right now.

Three paragraphs about pain. Not one about pain management. lol Fuck pain. Pain shrinks my world down to the size of wherever it hurts, and keeps my attention there, to the exclusion of most anything else. That, sadly, has a lot to do with how, over time, my implicit experience of my quality of life, and my day-to-day expectations of my experience to be, is about pain. I’m focused on my pain right now, and that pain becomes a defining characteristic of the memory of this moment, and, again, over time, that adds up to a long-term perception that my life, itself, is defined by my pain.

It is not.

Pain is a small wee minuscule tiny barely significant part of my experience when I allow myself to experiences and observe other things besides just my pain.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. I even admit, my results vary; today I am in pain.

So… now what? Take fuck tons of pain-numbing drugs? Not my preferred solution, honestly. Ignore it? That’s far easier to say than to achieve. So… what, then? Other things.Β 

Yeah…like, I mean a lot of other things. I mean, taking a break from the work routine long enough to really engage a colleague in a great discussion of any other thing than either routine work matters, or my pain. Or their pain. Or pain at all. I also mean, taking a break from sitting at my desk, and giving myself a chance to move and walk around. Have a big glass of water. Read something I’ve never read before. Write love poetry.

It’s about the distraction from being trapped in the wholly subjective experience of the context of long-term pain challenges; it doesn’t have to hurt this much. So, right now, at least for some little while, I put my attention on matters other than pain. It’s not the easy choice; pain makes my world tiny, and utterly self-involved. Looking beyond that is… hard.

I guess I need to begin again. πŸ˜‰

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

Home from work. Long, busy, fairly productive day. Unfinished tasks. Minor stressors. A society in decline – or at a minimum, exceedingly public and uncomfortable turmoil. Major stressors. Rainy. Chilly. Arthritis pain. I make a trip through the house adjusting things: thermostat, Giftmas tree lights, set the oven to pre-heat to make dinner, this light, that light, tidy this up, move a thing from one location to another, boots off, jacket hung up. Routine.

I sit down and find myself faced with the world, filtered through the Internet. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t count, in any way, as “down time” – or pleasant. So… maybe not, then? I close social media tabs. I close my email. I close the news. I sit quietly for a moment listening to the commuter traffic on the busy street beyond my window.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling my shoulders slowly drop to a more natural posture. I pull myself more fully upright, and feel that lessen my arthritis pain, somewhat.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling the chill of the room diminish as the heat runs. I make a point to acknowledge colder circumstances with fewer resources and less privilege, when I would not have had the luxury of just turning up the heat at the end of the work day. I enjoy the warmth of being aware how grateful I am to have heat at home. It’s very much worth a moment to appreciate these circumstances.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, content with the simple meal now prepared, and in the oven. I feel hopeful that the headache lingering since afternoon will diminish after a nutritious meal, and chide myself gently for overlooking lunch.

I take a deep breath and let it out – and just smile, sitting for a moment with the awareness of how fortunate I am, generally. I let the moment fill my thoughts with pleasant recollections: things that worked today, clear communications well-received, completed tasks, satisfied consumers, work well-done, a pleasant commute home, that ping during the day from my Traveling Partner just saying he loves and misses me, the beautiful view from the window nearest my desk at work. A feeling of contentment and relaxation slowly builds.

I take another breath.

I take another breath.

I pause to feel a moment of gratitude for breath itself, for the chance to go on breathing, to recognize and really enjoy having survived so much, to be here, now, to enjoy (versus endure) the life I live.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

My legs ache. I am contentedly fatigued from the effort of the weekend. Joyous effort. Heartfelt effort. Connected effort. The effort we make in life really matters; it’s how we get results. Well… I mean, sure, there’s “luck” of course. Good fortune puts a lot of folks on the path to one win or another, or general success in life, but let’s not kid ourselves about that; there’s a lot of effort that often isn’t seen, or shared. People – lots of people – go about the doing of things, often unnoticed by passers-by.

Sooner or later, however longingly I dream of hiking a particular trail, there’s no progress on making that a reality until boots hit the ground.

Start somewhere.

What’s your dream? Are you working on it?

What’s on your horizon? You are your own cartographer on this journey.

If you’re not working on your dream, realistically, how do you expect to achieve it? Pure intention? Casual assumption that gritting your teeth and firmly “manifesting” it will get you there? “The Universe” looking out for you… why? Someone’s going to hand it to you? Because you’re a great person? Seriously? So, I’m here with a short cut for you – and almost surefire not quite guaranteed path to success (your results will vary); make an effort. No kidding. Sucks, I know, right? Effort?? Like… actual work?

Are the obstacles you face truly as immediate and non-negotiable as you imagine them to be?

Our results are often closely correlated to the effort we make to attain them.

Whose advice are you taking? Sometimes the commandments we perceive as written in stone aren’t so permanent at all.

To put it in more practical terms…how many NFL players just happened to be spotted casually throwing a football around at some point in their life, having never played the game, and just happen to be so fucking fantastic that they are offered a deal on the spot? How many drivers are stopped at an intersection during their commute and offered an opportunity to compete in Formula One racing? One-time karaoke singers invited to perform at The Met? Let’s count carefully now…

…0. Probably. (I didn’t actually look all those scenarios up – if you find an example, I’d love the link to the narrative.)

The point is, if you want to be a professional football player, you’ll probably want to learn to play the game (as a starting point), and hey – maybe get really good at it. Most things work this way. You have to begin somewhere. Practice the thing. Become skilled. Go on to mastering the thing, or becoming in some fashion accomplished. Verbs. Effort. Action. Daydreaming doesn’t put pen to paper, brush to canvas, or a ball into the air.

Wherever it leads, the path we choose in life isn’t going to walk itself.

Hell, we don’t even get to rest on past glories for future successes; it is necessary to keep at it. Whatever it is. Effort. Fuck – I gotta say, that sounds like work. (It is.)

It isn’t always clear where a path leads, or how to reach a desired goal or destination in life. Sometimes talking about it helps.

I spent the weekend with my Traveling Partner. It was intensely connected and intimate, and we had deep conversations about things that feel important – emotional conversations that were not always easy, and could have wrecked a weekend, were we not the sort of partnership that thrives in an environment of authenticity and depth. I got in the car this morning, before dawn, to head back up the highway feeling refreshed, renewed, and filled with something more nuanced than inspiration, more powerful than motivation. I feel push-pulled back into a more verb-packed groove. I hope it lasts. (There will be verbs involved, and no doubt my results may vary.)

One more moment, one more opportunity, one more new beginning.

It’s a good day for a beginning. πŸ™‚

I sat in traffic seething, most of the way home. I got home feeling aggravated, mostly without any reason for it. It had been a difficult (and weird) day in the office, but honestly none of it really needed an emotional response, so… what was up with me? 0_o

I wasn’t having an easy time sorting it out, and a flash of inspiration took me back to childhood.

…Oh, I remember… πŸ™‚

There were these coloring pages, nearly always captioned “what’s wrong with this picture”, with the goal to find the “mistakes” in the image. From that moment of inspired recollection, I moved on to visualizing myself, exactly as I was, and started “looking for the mistakes” in a self-care context.

  1. Was I in pain? Yeah, that was probably contributing to my experience, for sure.
  2. Was I thirsty? Well, I’d had nothing but coffee yet… and it was well past 3 pm, so… probably. Shit.
  3. Was I hungry? Shit. I’d entirely overlooked any sort of lunch, so… yeah. Low blood sugar, too, probably. Shit.
  4. What about medication, was I on track for all that, too? Well… no. Hardly.
  5. …And I hadn’t even gotten up from my desk once aside from going to two meetings on my calendar. Yikes.

No wonder I was cranky and feeling disproportionately angry with small things. Who wouldn’t be angry after being treated in such a crappy way all fucking day? I went ahead and chilled the fuck out, calmed myself with reminders that I could, in fact, manage my behavior 100%, regardless how I experience my emotions in the moment. (What a relief, eh?)(Seriously – can be done. You control your behavior completely.)

I got home safely. I rarely take OTC pain relievers (for good reasons), and last night I made an exception; it made a difference pretty quickly. I had a big big glass of cold water – from the tap – and took time to experience and savor the moment of gratitude that I have safe drinking water on tap. I made a fluffy scramble of eggs and chopped dark leafy greens of various sorts, and enjoyed having refrigeration and a decently well-stocked pantry. I generously partook of the tasty cannabis at hand. My nerves unwound. I found myself feeling more than soothed… merry? Content, certainly.

Take care of this fragile vessel, humans, and this fragile vessel will insulate you from a lot of drama and bullshit. Treat it like crap, and a crappy experience is what you can expect to endure. Just saying. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. lol

Today? Today I’ll do better. Today? Today, I’ll begin again. πŸ˜€