Archives for category: pain

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. πŸ™‚

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

Tonight the “silence” sounds reminiscent of a hot summer evening, sweltering temperatures, and the night air filled with the sounds of insects. Crickets. Mosquitoes. All of the many kinds of buzzing and crawling and flying things… and maybe a street light buzzing along with all of them. Dense. “Shimmer-y”. My tinnitus has been with me a long while. I don’t have a clear recollection of not having it. It differs left and right.

Why mention it at all? No reason really. I’m sitting here listening to it, which gets me to contemplating it with greater care. Sometimes I might start to panic, thinking I can’t hear anything else now, and have to pause to very willfully listen to other sounds to coax the tinnitus to recede into the background of my awareness once more.

Why on earth am I sitting here listening to my tinnitus? I didn’t mean to be, actually. I sat down to exchange courtesies with my Traveling Partner, check in with some friends, and catch up my personal email for the day before moving on with the evening. I put on headphones with the intention of listening to music. lol I never got that far. Something distracted me, and I’ve been sitting here listening to the sound of my poor judgement. (I don’t actually know for sure what causes all of my tinnitus sounds. I do feel pretty certain it would not be this bad if I had been a committed fan of hearing protection in my 20s and 30s.)

Funny what can catch my attention for a moment. I smile to myself, hit “play”, and begin again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The evening ends gently. I’m tired. I’m in pain. Every doctor’s appointment feels like a re-run of some previous appointment. My frustration continues.

I take a deep breath and relax as I exhale, taking a moment to recall the squirrel visitor I watched for some while. I didn’t pick up my camera, just watched. I was sitting quite close. The squirrel didn’t seem to mind my presence on the other side of the glass, even though it was clear that I was quite visible. The memory of it makes me smile.

It’s not late. It is, actually, rather early. The last couple evenings it has been no effort to go to bed early enough to get a complete night’s sleep, and I have done so. So. Of course, this means that I also woke quite a bit earlier than necessary, each of the mornings following an evening on which I went to bed earlier. LOL I feel most decently well-rested, more or less. I’ve only just started having nightmares a couple nights ago, and so far they aren’t terrifying me into sleep aversion. I silently mock myself quite tenderly, without ill intent. I’ve come a long way. I can recall a time in the not too distant past when just contemplating the possibility of sleeplessness becoming a cycle of nightmares would disrupt my sleep, and result in precisely that dreaded scenario. I can look that one in the face these days. Even when I start with the nightmares again, most recently it has been the case that I manage to hold onto a sense of order and manageability for many days and nights, only beginning to fall apart just at the end, when normal sleep returns, and some sort of life I call “normal” resumes.

I shake off the thought of nightmares; it doesn’t do me any good to start up days and nights of nightmares by investing precious limited lifetime in playing reruns of my nightmares in my waking thoughts. No good at all.

I observe that I still managed to nudge myself into a mild feeling of uneasiness, and decide to finish the evening on my meditation cushion. Tomorrow will be soon enough to begin again.