Archives for category: Summer

I woke up groggy, aware of today’s agenda. Court. So, okay, the day is not my own. Today, a guy stands accused of a bunch of burglaries, one of them my old apartment. That seems a long time ago, but finally, it’s time the case is heard. The commute through morning rush hour traffic, all the way across town the far other side, holds no appeal for me. I’m dreading it. I’ve already decided to take the light rail, instead, which will probably take longer, but be much less stressful…

…It’s already almost time to go. There is a certain focused tension to my morning. I’m admittedly not excited to burn up an entire day of my time off for this; I have my own life to live, and my own uses for that time. Still. Our justice system rests uneasily on some big ideals… If I don’t participate, or fail to do so in an honest and authentic way, I participate, instead, in the slow chipping away at our potentially-amazing-if-we-could-get-over-ourselves-and-get-our-shit-together culture. I admit it; I’d prefer to be a good guy in my own narrative, and to do so by actually being the woman I most want to be, not by saying nice words about myself. So. I’ll go to court. I’ll give testimony. I’ll hope that in so doing, truly justice will be served (by determining whether this guy actually committed those crimes, not by “getting a conviction” without regard to truth). I’m uncomfortably aware how commonly our “justice system” is not truly serving justice. I feel wary.

I feel tense. Aware. Present. I sip my coffee and consider the moment. I consider other, different moments. I breathe. It is a new morning. A new day. An opportunity to begin again… I think about beginnings, and endings. I think about perspective, and hard to confront truths in life. I think about lifetimes of human experience, varied and similar, strange and mundane, each of us having our own – all of us in this together.

It’s complicated.

It’s time to go.

Let it go.

Walk on.

Begin again.

 

I’m sipping my coffee and smiling this morning. The day begins well, and doesn’t seem to be complicated by any of the crap and minutiae that had been weighing me down last week. I feel… lighter. It’s a pleasant feeling.

I scroll through my feeds a bit; I spent the weekend mostly disregarding social media and enjoying the good company of my Traveling Partner, instead. It was a worthwhile change to make. We relaxed, laughed together, watched some great super hero movies, and enjoyed a weekend of intimacy, connection, and merriment. No drama. No bullshit. It was quite lovely.

The headache I had on Thursday robbed me of any particular inclination to write. Friday wasn’t much better, although by day’s end, it had finally gone. I could have resumed Saturday, but decided on a weekend wholly dedicated to love and loving. (I knew you’d understand.) This morning feels more than little like the weekend was a firm “reset”, returning me gently to what works best, more aware of what matters most. I hope that’s more than a feeling. I sip my coffee, while a certain merry smile plays at the corner of my lips; there are verbs involved. No dodging that.

I struggled with my mental health for years, before I understood how much my partnerships also mattered. I tried this treatment, that treatment over there, and assorted bits of pieces of woo cobbled together from the assurances of others and things I read. I’m glad I kept trying – it eventually led me through failure after failure to a distillation of desperation, fear, and futility that happenstance eventually dropped on my current therapist’s desk. That was a life-changing appointment. It began a domino-effect of changes in my life, job changes, changes in self-care, changes in day-to-day practices, and even including ending relationships that tended to invest in the damaged bits more than in my wellness.

Keep trying. Begin again. Start over. Keep practicing the things that do work. Let go of the things (and relationships) that don’t. Over time, things get better. Life gets better. The chaos can begin to be sorted out. The damage can be healed. We become what we practice; inevitably, as we learn practices that support our wellness, and lead us to becoming the person we most want to be, we “find our way”.

Keep trying. Begin again. Start over. Find your way. It’s slow going. I won’t lie. It can feel pretty pointless sometimes, when it seems like all the successes are so small in scale, and the chaos and damage so… vast. Don’t lose heart – most of that is an illusion. The scale of the chaos. The magnitude of the damage. Our relative value in the world. The worthiness of the journey. We make up a lot of our narrative, in our own heads, so our own mental un-wellness sabotages the very clarity we need to assess our mental wellness in the first place. Harsh.

I start coffee number two as a Monday begins. Every day a new beginning. Every new beginning a chance to be the woman I most want to be. No doubt a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

It’s morning. I’m tired. Of course, this is amplified in intensity because I definitely needed the sleep I definitely did not get. I sigh and choke down more coffee. It’s going to be a long damned day.

I take a deep breath, relax, and think back on my appointment yesterday. There’s a lot to unpack from that one, and I won’t be doing it (all) here (now). I smile back on one fairly cool win and good moment; I did not get lost getting home (last time I did). I was, um, fairly mistaken about where, in the context of the rest of the city, and, you know, maps, this location actually is, and so last time, when I chose to “just drive home”, I got turned around on a sequence of one way streets I’d forgotten about, and ended up quite lost. Not this time. I looked at a map. 😀 To be clear – I could have used my GPS, and considered doing so, but… rush hour. I don’t find it as uniformly helpful during rush hour. It knows the roads, it does not know people. So I GPSd the suggested route, looked it over carefully, and “just drove home”. It took precisely the amount longer that I’d expect for the greater distance. Win, indeed.

Therapy can be easy to the point of wondering why the hell I am there, or difficult to the point of wondering how the hell I’ve been accepted as an adult all these years. It’s a process. Like a lot of folks, there’s an additional emotional burden to bear in the midst of the cultural shitstorm that has become American politics and society. It’s particularly weighty for me as an individual; I already “have issues”. No lie. I have mental health concerns. I have been, even, fairly easily described as “mentally ill”. Am I now? Unknown. It’s not something that should have stigma, but it does. It’s a hard label to wear comfortably while also working full-time for a living doing something I’m respected for, living alone, managing my affairs on my own… all the adulting. I was able to take a break from therapy for about a year. No kidding, the current presidency on top of family “stuff” has pushed me back in. lol It’s okay. (I can laugh about that. Healthy.) There’s just more work to do; it’s just one more beginning.

I know, I know – asking for help when we’re ill (mentally, emotionally, cognitively, or physically) can be hard; it can feel like an admission of failure to adult properly. Don’t let that get in the way of getting help, though. Maybe you did fail to adult properly – but fucking wow is asking for help, particularly for our mental health needs, totally the absolute adult thing to do when help is what we need!! Go for it! You matter. Please. (And good luck)

I headed home with a plan, and a follow-up in three weeks.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Too much coffee? Too much therapy? No way to know, but definitely not enough sleep.

Another work day, then another, then a weekend… all filled with adulting. Fucking hell, I’m so tired…

…Well, back at it, I suppose. Can I get a new beginning over here, please? 😉

My commute for the last couple days, this week, and the end of last week, have been… pleasant. I’m not sure why, exactly. Planning ahead for heavy traffic due to construction detours, just in case, seemed wise, and I’ve been leaving a bit earlier – on both ends of my work day. The adjustment to my shift did result in an apparent modest reduction in traffic… maybe. People are still people. All the other cars are still driven by those. (People, I mean.) Still, it’s been not at all unpleasant, generally, and this amounts to an improvement in my experience day-to-day – but is it what I think it is (the apparent reduction in traffic) or… is it me?

Is it a change in the facts of my experience, or a change in perspective?

See, around the same time, I also had a conversation with a friend that, although fairly one-sided (it was legitimately more just me talking at them on my way by, pausing for a joyful moment to share an anecdote – about traffic), ended with the realization that I was genuinely struggling with anger while commuting. A proper recognition, fully aware, that ended with a clear statement of acknowledgement, “…and that’s not who I most want to be”. Oh. Oh shit. There are going to be verbs involved, right? I went on with things, in the usual way, at the time…but… it sat with me, then, and still lingers in my thoughts.

The awareness changed my perspective.

My change in perspective changed my behavior.

I’ve been getting into the car since then, calmly aware that traffic is, and that I’m going to have to deal with it. The commute is not a fucking race, there is no specific time that I firmly must arrive at my destination – and when there is, the wiser thing is to plan the time it actually takes, of course, not fuss about how much less time that should be, or try to force the universe to comply with my expectations of that. I suspect it may not actually have been the traffic that changed all that much, although one bit of construction finally wrapped up that was going on along my route. (Actually, to be fair, I only suspect that; I altered my route days ago to avoid that mess, and don’t really know.) I’ve also grabbed hold of some perspective, and slowed down a bit; there’s no sense at all being aggravated by traffic if what is aggravating me is the “slow” progress – at the posted speed limit. That just seems fairly silly, given some thought. (I’ll thank my Traveling Partner for that reminder, next time I see him.)

Perspective is an amazing cognitive tool. A favorite. Why? Because it does not matter one bit whether the traffic is actually reduced, or my emotional resilience is improved through a shift in perspective – not at all. Our experience of life is not always about “objective truth” or “facts” or “reality”, and sometimes what needs a change is our experience, itself. What matters most is that, by shifting my perspective, I’m closer to being that human being I most want to be, enjoying my experience more, treating others well, and discharging less unwarranted rage or hate into the world.  Those are both emotions that poison the one feeling them, and they often seem to result from nothing more than frustration – and lost perspective. Ick. I don’t need that in my life.

Now to apply the amazing power of perspective to all of the everything else in life…

…It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m not the only one who does it – who lives a fairly different life during the work week, than I do on the weekends. It’s not the frequent road trips, or the specific nature of the job, or even the art. It is a difference in thinking, and a difference in context. Much of the work week is consumed by employment; hours spent wholly on someone else’s agenda, rather than on my own. This leave, often, only the weekend “for me”. Such is the way of our exploitative labor-culture. :-\

…Yeah, I’m bitching about it. It’s pretty crap-tacular, and does not benefit the laboring wage-earner nearly as much as it benefits the wealthiest citizens in the shareholder and executive classes. Early on a Monday morning, thoughts still tangled up on art, I feel more than a little inconvenienced by having to maintain “gainful employment”, no lie.

I sip my coffee and consider the 10 canvases that resulted from a great weekend in the studio. I needed that. 🙂

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

So this morning, after waking too early, after checking off a small handful of self-care tasks, I check the weather. I dress. I check traffic. Right; new highway closures, lasting through August. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. Well, so far the traffic map is all green. That’s promising… I keep half an eye on that, attempting to determine whether I’ll benefit from earlier hours for a few weeks. (An easy solution.)

…I end up “exploring the world” via Google Maps, and lose about 20 minutes of life time to that. lol I did find a couple nearby parks and trails to explore in the process…so… I guess, potentially worth the investment in time. 🙂

I listen to the Monday morning commuter traffic begin, just beyond the window…

…It’s already time to shift gears. The start of a new work week. It’s time to begin again. 😉