Archives for category: winter

I woke in an excellent mood this morning. Some pain, nothing extraordinary. Head kinda stuffy, nothing more than any morning. I greeted my Traveling Partner before heading to a hot shower. Made coffee. All fairly routine morning stuff. It’s a Sunday morning. Not yet even 07:00 in my local time zone. I didn’t have to be awake yet; I woke when I woke, feeling rested.

The pandemic is beginning to slow… isn’t it? Is it? It’s not clear from the news. Some locales want to ease restrictions because restrictions suck. Other places yearn for the safety of continued masking and distancing, continued remote learning, and crowd size limitations. Individual opinions – both the well-informed science-based sort, and all the others – vary. There are a lot of voices that seem to have a stake in the decision-making (or at least, want to). Me, personally? I’m no expert on medical science or virology. It would be arrogant of me to make bold statements of fact based on my limited knowledge and unproven assumptions. Subjectively? I’m bored of masks, but I don’t see myself discontinuing the practice of wearing one in crowded public spaces, or during cold and flu season. I’ll probably keep doing it long after the pissing and moaning over mandates has ended.

The simplest of truths I could share from my own experience is simply that I’ve been more well more of the time through the use of masking, social distancing, improved surface cleanliness, improved personal hygiene, and not keeping company with folks who are symptomatic of any sort of obvious respiratory concern. It would not require even one hand to count the number of head colds I’ve had during the pandemic. I don’t like being sick with a cold or the flu, and it’s been quite nice to avoid so much of that. I like that sick people seem to be staying the fuck home quite a bit more; it’s rare to see someone with a serious cough in a public place. It has become uncommon to see someone come to work obviously quite sick (whether my own workplace, or out in retail spaces). That by itself seems a very healthy improvement in how our society handles being ill. We could certainly benefit by keeping that practice in place!

I’ve learned quite a bit during the pandemic about “getting on with living in spite of restrictions” – whether those restrictions are resource limitations, limitations on personal liberty, or some other sort doesn’t really matter that much, as it happens. I’ve learned to take advantage of those moments when my partner and I feel a tad “trapped here together” to take time for me. Writing, reading, listening to music, doing some fitness activity or another, learning a new skill – there are so many doors I can open in some moment when the space we’re in together feels confining. I love hanging out with my Traveling Partner. I could quite contentedly curl up cozy on the couch with him and just consume video content damned near endlessly. Truth. I suspect he generally feels the same about me. We’ve got an enduring love for each other, and honestly nothing much else going on that feels “more important” than enjoying each other. BUT – and this is true – sometimes I’m a bit much to take. Or perhaps he is. Sometimes, it’s a clash of wills or wants, and no amount of tenderness or humor really brings us into alignment for some little while. All real and normal and fine; I used to take it sort of personally. After two years of pandemic living, I think I’ve learned to take better care of myself – and us – by enjoying those moments of difference, to enjoy them with myself. I mean… it’s probably fairly obvious that this would be a suitable use of any time we spent really not quite so thoroughly enjoying each other. lol

I sip my coffee. My partner steps in and begins rubbing my shoulders while I write. Feels nice. I feel loved. “What are you doing?” I ask. “Nothing. Hanging out,” he laughs mischievously, “harassing you.” I laugh, too. Suddenly, my writing seems “second best”… I think it’s time to begin again. 😀

Queue “Love Rollercoaster“… or…maybe “Love Rollercoaster“? Love has its ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster; it’s an appropriate metaphor. We deal with our own challenges – and our partners’. I’m confident that my Traveling Partner loves “all of me“. I count on his enduring love, “right down the line“. Maybe ours is an uncommon sort of love story – maybe not. I know this is our love – and it’s where I want to be. Sometimes love is like dancing, and I feel like I’ve “got the right dancing partner”, at long last.

Valentine’s Day? It was lovely. Spent lived, out loud, and wrapped in love. There are other experiences worth having. 🙂

I originally wrote a very different post under this title (on Friday). It was hurt-sounding, and infused with strong emotion, seasoned with pointless frustrated tears, and more than a hint of self-pitying catastrophizing. As the weekend proceeded, quite differently I’m pleased to note, my thinking on the writing (and events) of Friday evening continued to morph, evolve, mature, change, and deepen. I ascribed to the events first greater significance, then less, dwindling in magnitude of catastrophe and emotional pain over happy days spent in my partner’s good company, feeling loved, and loving, and enjoying our precious mortal moments together. At several points, I re-wrote, edited, adjusted, and refined my written thoughts, as my lived thoughts of the moment themselves changed. Mostly, I focused on being a better partner, better friend, and better love, and didn’t put nearly as much into writing about any of those things.

I spent quite a bit of time in a thoughtful place, reading “You Are Here” by Thích Nhất Hạnh. You’ll see a lot of his written work linked in my reading list – or on my book shelves. This one was a recent gift to me from my Traveling Partner to ease my sorrow when I learned of Thầy’s passing. Funny, I was so moved by my partner’s gift that simply receiving it was emotional and memorable; I felt so loved and understood. Diving into the work and actually reading it, this weekend of all weekends, I could see so much of the depth of my partner’s affection; every page seems to speak to our “here”, our “now”, and the very nature of Love itself. It led my thinking onward, gently, over the course of the weekend. Like a map, it helped me “find my way”.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I woke to an entirely different understanding of Friday evening’s moment of hurt and conflict. I found myself looking at it through a very different lens – one of real compassion and empathy, and awareness of what my partner is/may-be going through, himself, and pushing myself out of the hero’s role of the narrative in my head, to view our experience of each other through a more… equitable(?) perspective. We both have PTSD – and for both of us, the majority of that damage comes from intimate partnerships (other than our own, though at this point we’ve done ourselves a fair bit of emotional damage over a decade) or familial relationships. I now find myself painfully aware how often I insist I be nurtured and supported, while also pretty reliably overlooking his triggers, and his need to be emotionally supported, also. I shut him down when I “don’t feel heard”, instead of listening deeply because I care. I could do better. For sure. Like… probably a lot.

The tl;dr on Friday’s misadventure was simple enough; I triggered him (and did not recognize that in the moment), he reacted, and his reaction triggered me. I threw a fucking fit, and behaved incredibly poorly, and had a nasty temper tantrum we both could have done without. I wrecked a lovely romantic moment in the making, and we had a shit time of things that evening. (I feel fortunate that our love endures our individual and mutual bullshit.) We turned things around together over the course of the weekend, each of us “doing the verbs” to live our best versions of ourselves, and to love each other in the most healing way we could. Win and good; we enjoyed a lovely weekend together.

I thought about posting the original writing from Friday’s moment…but reading it, and even reading various edits and footnotes, I just “couldn’t find room for it” in my current thinking – I’ve already adjusted my thinking, and made room in my awareness to be more supportive and directly nurturing of my partner’s needs, and less strictly focused on my own. Self-care is supremely important, and boundary and expectation-setting is a pretty big deal for building lasting love – no argument there – and I’m not saying that it is any part of my plan to undermine those things (I’ve worked too hard “to get here”!). What I am saying is that I’m more aware that I’ve got room to grow and improve on how well I identify my partner’s need for emotional support, and could use some additional work on those skills, too. Love is a verb. Balance is a healthy quality.

…As silly as this is likely to sound, I put a ton of study and practice into self-care, and meeting my own needs, I somehow almost entirely overlooked how best to support a partner and their unique emotional needs in the context of their PTSD. I mean… for fucks’ sake, really?? Omg. Definitely time to begin again!

It’s a Winter Sunday. Cold. Clear. My coffee is hot. My playlist is bumpin’ as I sip and write. I started the morning with a hot shower. I’ve been writing notes and emails to distant friends. Thank you cards to family who sent holiday cards (I never got my shit together enough to send cards this year, lol).

I sip my coffee and think about places I’ve been, and people I’ve met. I think about moments. Connections. Things still unfinished – or never started. I think about places I’ve yet to travel, that still sound interesting and worth a visit. I think about people I haven’t seen in years, and wonder how they are. It’s that sort of moment. I just go with it. No tears, no sorrow. It’s just a moment to appreciate other moments. Later, it’ll be a different moment, with other qualities. It’s a Sunday. Probably housekeeping. Maybe art. 🙂

I think about my Traveling Partner, and those precious moments. This isn’t a fancy morning. I don’t have any grand plans. I’m in a bit of pain. I’m feeling okay anyway. It’s a pleasant, rather ordinary Winter morning with nothing much going on. I’m okay with that; it’s a moment worth embracing. (Honestly, most of them are.)

I read that Thich Nhat Hanh died. I don’t know that I have much to add. He gave me so much. We never met. I continue to read and appreciate his words.

As with most things – even moments – this too shall pass. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’m listening to my Traveling Partner gaming with his son (online), in another room. I am also listening to the trash pick-up going on beyond the house, on the street. I hear the sound of my fingers on this “quiet” manual keyboard. As much as any of those, I hear the sound of my tinnitus. Leaving aside the question of whether the sounds of my tinnitus are “real” or something else to be considered another day (because honestly it truly does not matter to the lived experience), it’s loud today. I keep putting my focus on some other known, definite, external sound to distract me from the distraction of my tinnitus. Each time I do, I push it to the background for a little while. It’s not a perfect system, but it keeps me from feeling as if my hearing is actually impaired from moment to moment. My hearing of external sounds is mostly pretty okay, aside from some frequencies that are simply buried by the tinnitus. I shrug it off, but have to admit that I have grown to rely more on being able to see the person speaking to me to be certain I am really hearing them quite correctly.

…I smirk at myself when I momentarily ascribe the experience of my tinnitus on “aging”; my tinnitus is an old “friend” from as far back as the mid 80s. I used to work seated next to a long bank of noisy equipment, and trust me the U.S. Army did not give two shits about hearing protection, at that time. I still hear a repeating snippet of Morse code, as if very distant, buried in the noise of my tinnitus, but only on the left side. LOL Mostly it sounds a bit like … “garden bells”, without any of the clinks or sounds of contact between bells, just the sort of shimmery tones left behind. It might almost be pleasant if it were not so endless and persistent. And distracting.

My pain is pretty bad today. My tinnitus is noisy. Some pain remedies make the tinnitus worse. Choices. I’ll be glad when Winter is over with; my arthritis is usually not as bad in warm dry weather.

The weekend is ahead. I’m tired. Eager to go somewhere… do something… or… sleep. LOL When I sleep… no tinnitus.

This morning I am grooving to the sound of new beats from an old friend. I’m sipping my coffee, feeling relaxed, loved, and even “merry”. It’s a pleasant, leisurely Sunday morning. My pleasant moment is interrupted by a commercial interruption on Soundcloud; an ad break between tracks. I roll my eyes, look for any chance to skip it (that doesn’t amount to paying for a subscription to a rarely used service), and settle on ignoring it for the required 31 seconds. It’s a distraction, and not a pleasant one; this is “where we are” culturally – our attention held in servitude to commercial endeavors, with or without our consent.

I sip my coffee and think about the media, my shorter attention span, the nature of likes, clicks, and views, and the monetization of human attention, and individual data. I think about our “global culture” – and how it sometimes seems “the fabric of society” is being torn apart…only… that’s just one perspective on a very complex, only somewhat shared experience. While there certainly seem to be “norms” and commonplace expectations of a dominant group in our social hierarchy being challenged, undermined, and perhaps also “misused”… There are also huge swaths of humanity who were never invited to that party, who don’t (and did not) have the advantages that are said to be being “undermined”, and for whom the system as it is has existed is punitive, hostile, prejudiced, and has long prevented them from thriving as groups. Labeled, cut-off from the benefits of “mainstream” society, and worse still often shamed for “doing it to themselves” instead of humble acknowledgement of inequities in our laws and institutions, so many people in so many places see patterns that amount to willful inhumanity. Fixing that mess… now that’s a global challenge for a global society. Will we fix our mess before the clock runs out on humanity’s presence on this planet?

I let the beats carry my thoughts onward… sipping my coffee and a glass of water, sort of in alternation.

I think about the day’s housekeeping tasks ahead of me. I think about getting a walk in on some nearby trail – if the day warms up just a little. I think about maybe baking brownies and trying a different recipe, seeking that exceptional brownie result. None of these thoughts, however delightful, have anything whatsoever to do with the actual outcome; that requires some verbs. Real action. Choices. Follow-through.

…Another fucking advertisement begins to play in the background. I do not give a shit about the advertiser or the product. I tune it out…

Patterns in my life; I do housekeeping on Sundays, generally. When I write, most of the time, I write in the morning. There is a cadence, a rhythm, to the day-to-day, and to each week. When I write, or think, or reflect, or daydream, there is often some kind of thread that connects my thoughts. When I struggle, there is often another sort of “thread” that, once tugged, begins to unravel some bit of baggage or bullshit. Noticing a pattern, pulling on that thread, following a path; all these things lead me onward. Even these beats in my ears right now, and so also in my head, guide me along my human experience, giving me a pace, a flow, a sort of carrier wave upon which the signal that is my own individual experience can be layered. My breathing shifts; slower and more even with the chill ambient beats. Glacial. Slow perspective. Ease.

Another advertisement? Really?? Fucking hell…

The beat shifts again, energizing me, lifting me, bring a smile to my face and an eagerness to my moment. My breathing is a bit faster. I feel an increasing readiness to move on with the day. There is a rhythm to the tasks and habits and routines I set for myself. It works for me, mostly. When it doesn’t, breaking down the missed moment, the lost beat, the unraveling thread into smaller parts gives me a chance to understand myself a bit better, and to creep ever closer to being the person I most want to be.

…It’s not “everything”, it’s only “something” – sometimes something is enough. 🙂 It is, at least, enough on which to begin again. 😀

Today, I’ll do my best. I’ve got a list. I’ve got all day. 🙂 It’s enough.