Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

I woke with a silent groan, about half an hour before my alarm would have gone off. Stiff neck. Headache. Aching back. Well… shit. I do some yoga. Shower. More yoga. Some stretches I learned in physical therapy. Coffee. Now I’m sitting here feeling completely fantastic managing to pull myself together sufficiently to go to work. This morning life feels very much the journey through the darkness without a map that it is; and this path is not paved. lol

…Well… It could be worse, right? I’ve got heat, power, and indoor plumbing. Potable drinking water (as far as I know). A secure home. This cup of coffee. A partner who loves me. It’s a good life, in spite of the aches and pains. I sit sipping my coffee, focused on my generally good quality of life, and take it in. I savor the feeling of being loved. I savor the feeling of warmth when the heat comes on. I savor the sense of safety. I take time to appreciate that I’m not out in the rain on a cold night. I consider the merry little Giftmas tree in the living room. I feel the sensation of the smile on my face. As practices go, I can’t beat gratitude, and presence, for an early morning boost. Maybe I even hurt less, although it’s tough to say for sure; it definitely is of less consequence that I am in pain. πŸ™‚

Being 100% real, it’s not “effortless” to lift myself up. It’s not automatic to feel grateful or appreciative in some difficult moment. It’s not “easy” to take a step back from conflict or frustration, to be a better version of this woman I most want to be. It’s not “my nature” to be reliably gentle, tender, kind, and considerate. I work at all of it. I practice. I make changes. I reflect on the outcomes of my actions, and my words. I give a lot of wholehearted apologies; I make a lot of mistakes. No map. This journey through the darkness across an uneven, unpaved, metaphor, offers some major opportunities for growth. Nothing about that is comfortable, or easy.

Every morning, and a lot of other moments, too, I begin again. I start all over – new day, new opportunities. Failure isn’t terrifying, it’s merely part of a growth process. (Saying that doesn’t make it less difficult in the moment.)

I keep sipping my coffee, trying to wake up fully. Another short night. I woke up around 3:00 a.m., and went back to sleep for an hour (sort of). I haven’t managed even 6 hours in any given night, once again, in days. (It would no doubt be helpful to get to bed at an hour early enough for that to be possible, in the first place.) I set a reminder on my wearable, and hope to get to bed “on time” tonight. I rub the sleep out of my eyes, still trying to wake up.

…And already it’s time to begin again.

I woke early. Headache? Sure, fine, why not…? Coffee? It’s good. Brain? Foggy.

I put on headphones and queue up some music. I breathe. Exhale. Relax, letting my shoulders drop. I hadn’t noticed they were stiff, tense, and up around my ears. I feel my jaw unclench. Wicked little headache. New one? I’m not certain. I breathe. Listen to the music. Exhale. Relax. I hold my attention on my breath, observing my physical experience. Toes gripping the pedestal of this office chair. I place my feet on the floor, and allow them to relax. Still breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breathing. In. Out. Feeling the music fill my consciousness. Track changes allow me, momentarily, to hear other sounds of morning: cars passing outside, the heat coming on, the muffled sound of my own breath from the other side of the headphones. Breathing in. Exhaling. Relaxing, again. My breathing is relaxed and even, and in spite of feeling pretty foggy (I woke way too early), and this headache (which I could frankly do without), I feel pretty okay this morning. A good Monday so far, even if I did wake up at 3:20 a.m.

I sip my coffee, and think about holiday cards, old friends, and the double-edged razor-blade of social media; so easy to stay in touch, so much general ill-effect to take advantage of that technology. Another breath. Another exhalation. Another moment to let go of assumptions, and expectations, and the outrage machinery of modern media. I’m content with this cup of coffee, and this Opiuo track.

Weird weekend. It was full of peculiar little ups and downs, and although there were some moments I easily could have done without, I nonetheless recall the weekend as a good one. I got much done, and my studio is sufficiently tidy to be suitable guest space in a pinch, which feels almost strange after a year of clutter. I smile, appreciating my Traveling Partner’s hints and suggestions, falling short of nagging, but persistent as reminders that I, myself, wanted to create order from the chaos that developed over the year, and during the prior year when I traveled so much, myself. I look around feeling content and satisfied. I eye the next couple of tasks. There are several. Easier to do them, now, though – more room to work. πŸ™‚

I smile recalling my Traveling Partner enjoying the squirrels and chipmunks with me, this weekend. Beautiful memories. Will I always recall these moments? I savor it for some minutes, recalling in detail our shared delight in the antics of the wee chipmunks, and the plumpness of some of the squirrel “regulars”.

With my Traveling Partner’s help, and largely due to his weekday efforts, the house looks lovely. Tidy, comfortable, well-organized; it’s easy to feel good here. I sit for a minute, sipping my coffee and feeling wholly grateful that I am not having to handle all the housekeeping and chores alone. I smile quietly, similarly grateful for a partnership that supports my overall wellness, and even to the point of gently insisting I don’t just sit around, however much I really really really just want to rest, quietly, in a favorite comfortable spot, watching squirrels, or videos. lol It’s sometimes super annoying to hear the hint to get up and move around some – doesn’t matter whether it comes from my phone or my partner, really, but taking the hint and fighting the desire to just sit is likely to be a huge positive for my longevity and health later in life. So… I fuss a bit, then get up anyway. By the end of an evening, I’m just so tired, and often in so much pain… but each opportunity to get up, move around, and do some small thing before sitting down again, is an action toward a longer, healthier life. πŸ™‚ I get up, get a glass of water, or pick out my work clothes, or carry something from where it is to where it more appropriately should be. I get up, do the dishes, or take out the trash, or pick something up, or tidy something else. I get up, go to the garage for a case of fizzy water, or a roll of paper towels. I get up, make a cup of tea, “just stretch my legs”, or use the restroom. Fighting the desire to “really relax” can be hard; a lifetime of stress whispers in my ear that this is the “one path” to finally getting past all that to some imaginary experience in which there is no stress, no pain, no fatigue…

…I sigh aloud in the quiet room. There’s no such thing as the perfect utopian experience of ease; even that takes verbs. Action. Effort. I sip my coffee. I notice the time. Meditation, yoga, a shower… waking up too early makes for a leisurely morning of good self-care. Trade-offs. Regardless, there are nearly always verbs involved, effort, will, action, getting down the path to find that life was well-lived, and characterized by contentment, and an experience of ease and joy. Slow things down, sure – life can definitely be way to busy – but stopping altogether? Maybe not the best idea, however fatigued I may feel. lol

I’m still groggy this morning. My coffee helped little. I find myself looking forward to the cold morning air wrapping me in refreshment as I head to the office. Random thoughts on a Monday crowd my consciousness. I smile. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I sat. Then I sat some more. Eventually, I noticed I hadn’t hung up my pants after changing into jeans after work. So, I did that, still feeling pretty frustrated, kind of numb, and fairly disappointed with the evening (with myself?). Even now, I’m feeling pretty raw, sorrow holding on around the edges. I sat here, awhile, fingers resting gently on the home row of the keyboard, just staring at the monitor, not moving, just breathing. Suppressing my agitation and distress with pure will, heavy, stoic, and just barely adequate. Communication failure. Connection failure. Right now, doing “my best” does not seem enough.

So, I sit in my studio. Waiting for understanding. Waiting for peace to be restored within my core being. Waiting for my face to stop feeling frozen. Wondering, now and then, how to drag myself from here to there, and whether that takes some measure of forcefulness I don’t fathom?

Rough bit of path here. My heart aches. I mean, being real, a moment of heartache, frustration, and a resurfacing of despair is grim and exceedingly unpleasant…but… I’m breathing. I’m not in any physical danger. For most values of “I’m okay”, I am very much okay. “Move along, folks, nothing to see here…”

Still. I’m feeling a mix of unpleasant emotion, and more than anything, I’d rather not be doing that. I’d rather be hanging out with my Traveling Partner right now.

I’m fatigued, and my communication skills are reduced. Small annoying mistakes compounded by how very difficult it can be for people to talk about feelings in the first place sent the beginning of a quality evening skidding sideways in a very different direction than it seemed it might. So. I sit in my studio, unwilling to keep at earnestly (haplessly) making it worse while trying to do anything at all that might make it better so unskillfully that no good outcome could be obtained. I sit quietly. I write a thought. I sit quietly-er. Piece by piece trying to think things through and understand more clearly. I’m not doing all that well with it. It’s too early to go to bed. It’s not helpful to sit around crying.

I look around the studio and think about the things I’d like to get done, tomorrow. I guess, first, I’ll have to begin again. Right now, it’s not feeling so easy. There are going to be some verbs involved.

It’s been a strange week, in some respects. I’m sitting here with my morning coffee, mulling over the strange sights I have seen, standing in front of the office, taking an occasional break from working. I see a lot of things. Our building is immediately opposite a large hotel, and surrounded by restaurants, banks, businesses, public gathering places, and transit stops. There’s a lot to see, is what I’m saying. Homeless people. Busy people. Angry people. People who are lost. People who are pre-occupied. People who are exceedingly well-dressed. People who are dressed, well, as though they are in Portland (it’s pretty casual here). People with ear buds in their ears, talking to unseen others over wireless connections mingle with schizophrenic people; it’s not always possible to tell which are which simply by the conversations.

…It’s a city. There are a lot of people. Human experience is vast and varied. I see a lot of things passing by, as I stand quietly enjoying the theater of humanity existing. Too often, I find myself wondering how long this will last…? Humanity, I mean. We’re doing a pretty poor job of thriving, as a species, it seems.

Yesterday, I walked past a man laying on the pavement, flat on his back, head lolled back and somewhat downwardly, past the curb, sort of (but not quite) into the street. Nothing about it looked comfortable on a freezing morning. He was not wearing a coat, or wrapped in a blanket, or covered up at all, really. He did not appear to be “sleeping” so much as unconscious. People passed by, glancing down, walking past. He was in front of a Starbucks. Some time later, he was gone.

Later, I was startled to see a man run screaming and yelling from inside the hotel across the street. Not a guest, obviously, from his clothing; a homeless man, perhaps, unkempt, and pants literally around his knees as he ran, hobbled, up the street and away from security, who chased him half-heartedly. I heard later, from the doorman of the building I work in, that the running, screaming, man, had been defecating in the actual lobby of the hotel.

I saw a well-dressed woman, obviously a professional woman of some sort, well-groomed, and precise, talking on her phone outside the building. She was sort of fixed to the spot where she stood. Face tense. Jaw clenched. Trying to “hold it together”, until her emotions broke like waves against the stillness of her face, and she began cursing and weeping at the person on the other end of the call. In an instant, she was as human as anyone. In an instant, people began to avoid her physical space, and turn their faces away from her suffering.

I saw a younger woman on a bus stop bench, rocking and crying, making her misery quite public, while she stayed somehow still very private, herself. People simply walked past.

Misery is pretty common in a city. Maybe everywhere. I used to be immersed in it, myself. I have cried in public, unable to hide “the shame of my emotions” at a time when I found them shameful, but too far gone in the experience to care about it anymore. I have run screaming, angry, or hurt, or frightened. I have had tense public phone calls that would have been better handled privately, personally, and face to face. I have laid still, sick or injured, immobilized by my circumstances in some other part of my life, stalled by the chaos and damage.

…Fucking hell, I am so glad I stand where I do, today. It’s been a bit of a journey getting here. I don’t take my current good fortune for granted; it could happen to anyone. Frankly, any of it could. It’s oneΒ  of the fundamentals of our humanity; in spite of the wealth of variety in the human experience, misery is both plentiful, and tediously similar, no matter the circumstances. And any one of us could be “stuck there”, at any time. No kidding. If you aren’t miserable, right now, take a minute to really feel how good it is to feel a bit better than that. πŸ™‚ Celebrate getting to this better place, or celebrate having never had to experience real suffering (if you are that fortunate, thus far in life) – it’s worth a moment of recognition and appreciation.

The fact that Thanksgiving is behind us, already, is not sufficient reason to turn my back on gratitude. Gratitude is lovely all year long.

I arrived home last night, after a somewhat trying commute, and there was my Traveling Partner, relaxing, waiting for me. The house is spotless, aside from my studio, and I’m committed to tackling that this coming weekend. Moving things around improved how comfortable things are, and somehow I’m not completely disrupted. It’s pleasant. I am enjoying the changes we made, together. I take a moment to sip my coffee, and feel grateful for all of this, too.

Reading the news, or observing the passing theatrics of human misery standing on a city sidewalk, it’s easy to forget the joys in life. They’re worth experiencing. They are even worth wallowing in, if you’ve got enough joy to do so. πŸ™‚ It’s okay to enjoy life’s pleasures – I try to avoid being a dick about it, though, and refuse to avert my eyes from human suffering. I’m not sure what to do about it, sometimes. (A lot of times.) I think, probably, we could do more, better, to alleviate a great deal of suffering in the world… probably harder to do that, if I’m not willing to be aware that it exists. I think about an X who tried to “buy her way into heaven”, unsuccessfully, of course; heaven is not for sale. We build heaven with our actions (there are a lot of verbs involved), our compassion, our concern, our authentic resolve to change the world – did I mention action? Yeah… this planet isn’t going to take better care of itself. We’ve got work to do.

Don’t like what you see around you? The answer isn’t in turning away from the problems. What are you going to do, to change the world? Check the time. It’s already time to begin again.

I woke about an hour ago. It’s a bit past 3:00 a.m. now. Little point in attempting to return to sleep. No idea what actually woke me. For now, I’m dealing with this sinus headache, but, and this is just real, I’m almost delighted that I can, mostly, just breathe. The vertigo, which I think may be a result of sleeping with my neck at an odd angle, combined with this head cold, is a cruel new addition, and I’m already “over it” (meaning to say, I’d very much like to be done with this whole mess, now, please…).

I worked yesterday, from home, and wrapped up the day about 2 hours early, compared to a typical Monday. I honestly wasn’t good for much. Today, either, potentially, but I am feeling “up to it”, and no coughing or sneezing, so far, and able to breathe (mostly)… I may go into the office today. I sit here sipping icy cold grapefruit fizzy water, wondering if I really will. The advantage is small; I have more monitor “real estate” there, and this allows me to work somewhat faster, with more things open and easy to see. That’s it. The disadvantage? If I am still contagious, I get everyone on my team sick (small office space), and potentially also everyone I talk to. That’s a dick move. I resolve to stay home if I start sneezing or coughing, and decide that if I do go in, I’ll go quite early, and overlap with folks for a much shorter period of time, keeping my hands washed, and wearing a mask. If nothing else, the mask itself will discourage conversation, and reduce risk further.

…I’ll probably work half a day, get the essentials done, take advantage of the efficiency of the big monitors, and cancel live calls/meetings that involve face-to-face participation.

My coffee is very good this morning. I feel content and alert in spite of the ridiculous hour. My body feels mostly pretty comfortable, very little pain. The discomfort I do feel is largely to do with this cold, and I’m clearly getting over that. I find that to be very good news – honestly, I have shit to get done. Not being up to doing things sucks. I keep sipping this coffee, between physical therapy exercises, and wait for this vertigo to clear up; if it doesn’t, I’ll stay home. Driving to the office in the dark, in the rain, and also with vertigo? That just sounds fairly stupid.

Back and forth… water… coffee… work from home? Go to the office? More water. Another sip of coffee. How do I best take care of this fragile vessel? Water. Chicken broth. Tea. Sleep. More sleep. More water. Limited use of cold care remedies, and only those that are definitely effective, and don’t mess with my head. More sleep. More water. More broth. Food when I can eat. I don’t know what works for you – do that, though, I suppose. I do this. πŸ™‚ I’d been going through a record-breaking number of Kleenex’s there for a day or two, but this box next to me has been open now for more than 12 hours, and it’s still half full. Progress.

…Oh, damn, do I enjoy being able to breathe? Oh, yes, yes, I do – so very much. πŸ™‚ It’s nice having that back.

I find myself looking forward to the cold autumn air and the rain fresh breeze, when I step outside, into the pre-dawn darkness of morning. The house is comfortably warm, but not hot. I feel a bit overdressed for the indoor temperature, and remind myself that my coat is in the bedroom closet, my partner still sleeping. Going to work without my coat, in this weather, in this health, seems fairly dumb; I’ll have to go get it, probably waking my partner. :-\ It is what it is. I remind myself he would comfortable do so, himself, were the situation such that he needed a clothing item from the bedroom, while I am sleeping. lol No coat = no commute. πŸ™‚ That’s some solid self-care decision-making right there. πŸ™‚

I look at the time. It’s very early, not quite 4:00 a.m., but getting that kind of head start on the day will be a huge win for reducing exposure to any lingering contagion, so… I guess it’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€