What a weird day yesterday was. The work day was… shitty. It just was. It’s a thing, it happens. It’s over, and behind me, and today is a new one all its own. We’ll see how this one goes. 🙂 It can’t possibly be as strange, that’s for sure.

The evening was a delightful counterpoint to the work day; no stress, no drama, just two people who love each other, spending time together. It was warm and joyful, and the connection was intimate, fully analog, and entirely in real life. It was sweet. No idea how long my Traveling Partner may stay… he’s thoroughly welcome. I don’t bother to ask what his plan is. He shares details as they occur to him. There’s no point being literal about those words – they often do not become actual experiences, for either of us. He will when he does. lol I am at least able to chuckle about that and give him room to be who he is. 🙂 He does the same, generally, for me.

I sip my coffee. I contemplate the day ahead in the context of being so well-loved. It changes the way I see my experience, to see it in loving context. It’s a positive change that tends to push the negative emotions into the background, and pushes the purposefulness of my endeavors into the foreground, relevant, immediate, and worthy. My results vary. It’s less a matter of “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” and more a matter of “are you kidding me with this shit? have a little perspective” – and that’s enough to nudge me back onto a path of assuming positive intent, and generally enjoying my experience. I like contentment. Ya gotta run pretty fucking fast to “chase happiness” – contentment will let you catch up, no problem, and walk aways with you. 😉 Choose wisely.

I look at the time. It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I’m relaxing with my morning coffee, ready to start a new week, enjoying a quiet moment before heading to the office. It is, in most ways, wholly routine, as morning’s go. Still, this one lovely moment feels… special. My Traveling Partner sleeps in the other room. 🙂 As “sufficiency” goes, this morning is more than enough. I feel content, and wrapped in love.

This kind of moment is different from the joyful, boisterous, playful, moments of festivals, the busy fun working moments of performance events, the connected intimate moments snatched from those on some visit to spend time together… all those things are lovely. This? This is different. This is calm, and soothed, and heartfelt, and warm, and tender, and gentle, and deep, and enduring… no fleeting bit of fun this moment, here. This is built of stuff that lasts (well, as long as it lasts, and then lingers in memory quite deliciously and poignantly; the best times together manage to be nonetheless quite finite).

I sit with my coffee, enjoying this quiet moment. I don’t need more. I start a playlist that is all love songs this morning, and get ready to begin again. 🙂

I am sipping my coffee in a state of contentment and feeling generally okay after an entire day of rest, following the recreational weekend. It’s worth it to take time to get adequately rested. So often, I enjoy a great time, let that occasion undermine my self-care, and move on to a new work week, and interacting with people, without “getting caught up”, and really caring for myself. It’s a poor choice to take that approach.

How much Monday misery is fully and wholly a byproduct of enthusiastic weekend endeavors? Probably quite a lot of it, and I suspect that Monday’s reputation for being a shitty day of the week is caused more by hangovers of various sorts, than by any actual day-of-week-related flaw. (Don’t even start with me about how you “don’t get hangovers”; the science suggests otherwise, and if you don’t like the word, don’t use the word, but for fuck’s sake don’t bullshit yourself about needed after-care!)

I’m sitting here grateful to be more aware of such things than I was when I was in my 20s – my quality of life could have been so much better, and there could have been so much less fucking drama! “Self-care” was not in my vocabulary.

I smile, and sip my coffee. Yeah… I don’t even try to go off the coffee. I recognize the irony. I don’t avert my eyes from the lessons I learn about addiction, generally, and good self-care, just because this particular intoxicant is legal. The legality of any given intoxicant has not one thing to do with whether it is effective, or what effects it actually has, or whether there is a hangover. Words are not experiences. Experiences exist independent of the words we use to describe them.

Take care of yourselves out there in the world, Party People! It’s Monday. Tomorrow is “terrible Tuesday”, too, and intoxicants vary widely in both effect, and duration of effect. If you’re working, you may not be at your best. That annoying argument? Probably a byproduct of your chemistry – you’re usually so much more reasonable, and measured in your responses. That flare up of bad temper? Yeah, excessive is a good word for that – it’s worth reminding yourself that you’re probably prone to being a bit over-reactive right now. You could do better. Are you drinking enough water? Have you had nutritionally dense healthy calories? Have you gotten the rest you need? You don’t need to dissolve into a private emo nightmare of drama and woe – you can practice good self-care, and heighten your self-awareness. Being more considerate of yourself (and, let’s be frank, of others) may ease some of the (literal) headaches of a (hungover) Monday… I’m just saying; you have choices. 😉 Your results may vary, but you can choose how to deal with that, too. 🙂

…Adulting takes so much practice. Have you “already completely fucked this day up”? Just begin again. ❤

It’s time to pay the bill. Every fun thing in life, every journey, every dream ever pursued, involved a cost. An investment in time, will, money, effort – coasting through life is an option, of course, but I suggest taking a second very careful look at the lives of those you think may be “coasting” through life. It’s not likely that they actually are, however different their choices may be from your own. 🙂

There’s a place I know, where the rules are different, and the world seems built of love.

I spent the weekend wrapped in love, in the company of friends and my loving Traveling Partner, in a space temporarily re-made for the purpose. DJs, artists, vendors, and fans gathered. Family. Friends. Artists. Musicians. Dreamers. Visionaries. Performers. A small festival of like-minded folk, gathered in the forest to camp, dance, play, and experience life re-made to an alternate purpose. We celebrated. Even in hard times, celebration is a worthy endeavor – perhaps most of all in hard times. 🙂

Put as much effort into celebrating as you do into working – or bitching – the return on that investment is so worthwhile!

I bailed on the fun a bit early. Friday was amazing, if rainy. Saturday was just… wow. Sunshine, forest, good company (a great breakfast) a feeling of purpose… I felt elevated, uplifted, and if not enlightened, surely I felt “made of light”. It was quite lovely – until my arthritis finally reminded me of years and injuries, and my joints began to stiffen quite irresistibly. I grabbed my cane as soon as my mobility became actually impaired. I didn’t really sleep on Friday night, ever, the music went all night, so did the fun, and although I grabbed a couple naps, it wasn’t enough to keep me from becoming fatigued. By late afternoon Sunday, on top of my arthritis, my legs began to remind me of other issues, and my steps and gait became affected, by those, compounded by my fatigue. The cane wasn’t going to be enough to get me through the night. I checked in with my Traveling Partner about “calling it” early and heading home. We were having so much fun it was a hard choice to make, and I wasn’t up to it without a bit of reassurance that he’d also rather I take the best care of myself, versus forcing myself to stick it out, slowly becoming miserable and putting that delicious vibe at risk, or wrecking my own delightful experience of the weekend. We were having an amazing good time together! It was hard to walk away from that. He is ever the supportive partner, and agreed that if I was already feeling worn down or struggling with impaired movement, it made sense to call it good and head out – if I were up to the drive. He offered me his place if I wanted to just go get some sleep and hit the road in the morning. Something nagged at me that it was likely a better idea to make the drive that evening…

What the hell? I hate late evening driving; it becomes night driving, and my night vision is frankly not ideal. Shit. Really? Am I going to do this? Yep. Doing it. I drank more coffee and hit the road.

The drive was uneventful. I took regular breaks at pre-determined times and locations. At the one point that sleepiness started to blur my vision, I stopped, got a big bottle of cold water (once it was clear iced-coffee was not to be had, there) and got back on the road. Water for the win. I didn’t expect that – and now I know to keep it in mind. I was thirsty, more than sleepy, apparently. I made good time, and the drive was stress free. Win and good.

This morning I woke at 4:30 am. I went back to sleep, after bumbling to the bathroom and back rather awkwardly. The somewhat less than 4 hours of sleep I’d had weren’t going to be adequate rest. I woke again around 6 am. Again, I went back to sleep. I finally woke shortly after 9 am or so, and got up. I experienced a moment of immense gratitude as I stood. It was the right choice to have made the drive the night before; it took real effort to get out of bed. Pain. Stiffness. More effort to slowly go through the motions of a morning routine. I’m still moving terribly slowly, with much effort. Everything hurts. Everything is stiff. Nothing is easy. “Freedom of movement” feels like nothing more than an advertising slogan. I feel as if I were the unfortunate recipient of a serious beating I don’t recall getting. lol This morning, I add sore muscles to the arthritis pain. I nonetheless happily “pay the check” for a delightful weekend of music, dancing, and enjoying the company of friends out in the woods. Totally worth it. I knew it wasn’t going to be any sort of “freebie”, and I took the time off I needed to, to make the best possible recovery before work. (I’m off tomorrow, too. 🙂 )

Painfully sore muscles. Aching joints that don’t move freely. Fatigue. A few hours of driving. A few dollars in gas money, meals, and gear. Time. Totally 100% worth the price spent to enjoy the time I did. I focus on that, and try to sort out which is the wiser choice right now; a nap (I’ve only been awake for 2 hours), or a nutritious meal (that it going to be painful to prepare, but I probably should have something…)? Time to get back to all the adulting. lol

I make another coffee, I start another “to do” list. I begin again.

This is about my relationship with money. For some of us, talk about money, personal finances generally, or how we deal with money is more intimate than any discussion of sex. So. Here’s your trigger warning; this is me going on about money. You can stop right here, and not take another step, not read another word. I respect that. Take care of yourself. 🙂 Enjoy your Friday.

Sometimes basic self-care is really really basic.

Is how I handle money a matter of basic self-care? I suspect maybe it is… We’ve all been in that place, a bit tense with it, looking at a plan or a budget, looking at the resources available, measuring and cutting things to fit… feeling the relief in that moment when it is clear that there are resources, and also a plan, and that the one fits the other… with just enough left to be sure there is enough, at all (or those far more stressful times, when there just isn’t). It’s so easy to ride that wave of relief to a shore of imagined certainty and security. No one really wants to focus on one important detail that is a bit of a buzz kill; that plan has to be executed. There are verbs involved. Choices. Effort.

Hint: it isn’t the effort that is the tricky bit, generally, it’s the choices.

This morning I am looking at my budget. It’s a payday morning. I’ve got my coffee. It’s what I do. I don’t go anywhere or spend anything (nothing. at. all.) until I’ve reviewed the budget, the pay, the resources overall, my calendar (which handily includes all the recurring bills on the dates they hit my bank account, as well as things I want to do)(calendars are super cool right now, I hear, 😉 )… and I walk myself through the upcoming days and debts, making doubly sure that I can pay my bills, meet my obligations, and handle my commitments – before I spend a dime on anything that wasn’t already planned. I’d love to say this is as easy as it sounds. It isn’t. There’s quite a bit of work and practice involved.

I maintain this particular practice because “the money thing” is hard for me. Which part? Mostly matching the plan (budget) to the reality (choices, actions, deviations from the plan). I forget things kind of a lot. This is a particularly noteworthy risk because symptomatically, I also have some executive function impairments that hit me right in the impulse control. These things do not play well together in the finances. I enjoy living well*, and have modest resources – a lack of impulse control is a major impediment to good quality of life given limited resources. So. Each payday I sit down and review it all again. It’s a good time to reality-check my expectations. I sometimes find myself reconsidering future plans from this perspective, as I count off the bills against the budget, and note that perhaps I am over-extending myself (time or money).

This used to be one of the scariest things I “had to do” each payday. I tried to do it without having to be present, or think about it at all. Now it is routine, comfortable, and fairly encouraging to be able to see that I’m okay, or that some brief tough time in life is improving, or the less-than-ideal timing of some large expenditure is no longer a concern. I feel more “safe” with my life; I have clearer picture of what I can get done with my resources. I’m not averting my eyes. It doesn’t work that way, anyway.

Important observation; my choices these days are very different than they once were. If I don’t have the funds, I don’t do the things. Bills come first. “Fun stuff” and adventures are all down the list somewhere later, after quality of life needs are met. It’s not easy, and I’m not lecturing; when we don’t have enough resources in life, we make the choices that we think save us. We “do what we have to do” – as we understand it. (Often leading to poorer outcomes because we don’t necessarily choose wisely.) We don’t really have an easy time of holding collateral damage in our thoughts while we make the choices that cause it. We just don’t easily consider the “down stream effects” of our choices very well (thus the whole notion of effects that happen down stream of where we stand; because we have a fucking history of polluting our waterways that become someone else’s drinking water!), because considering those outcomes forces us to be willful and consciously deliberate about causing it. I don’t have any solutions, I’m just noting that, generally, we’ve got this limitation as creatures. I had to make profound changes in my thinking and behavior to more appropriately manage my finances, meet my obligations, and live an acceptably good quality of life. It’s sometimes still really hard to make the necessary choices. I’m not super human. I’m definitely not wealthy. I’m just practicing, and learning. It’s still hard. I still need practice. 🙂 That gets easier – and so worth it.

This is going to be one of those more difficult times, when the choices I make definitely affect my real-time experience and quality of life; I’m right on the edge of bouncing back from recently over-extending myself somewhat, right to the edge of my available resources. This is challenging; every choice in this pay period matters a great deal, and rather a bit more than any choices made in pay periods when I’m definitely in the black, with adequate resources to just go, and be, and do. Right now, each choice really matters and there can be no fucking about playfully or wastefully. I… am not good at this. 🙂 That’s why my bills are on autopay, (some are also paid a month in advance) and I keep a decent balance in my accounts, and don’t let things fall behind; I’m not as skilled at managing things check-to-check, and the ups and downs fuck with my emotional balance, which causes me stress, which fatigues me and messes with my sleep, which impairs my executive function further over time, which reduces my ability to make good choices, which causes me stress, which… Yeah. It’s a cycle. Breaking that cycle was a huge turning point for me. (Big props to my Traveling Partner for all the emotional support and coaching on managing my finances!) Treading too closely to getting back on that treadmill is fraught with risk, and very uncomfortable. Also kind of scary. Stress. The stress of it colors other things, and I have been feeling my anxiety trying to pull me back to a bad place.

It’s still ‘about’ contentment and sufficiency.

…Then, this morning, I sat down, quite routinely, with the budget, with the banking, and started going down the list, reviewing the calendar… and my stress dissipated. Limited resources are nothing new. The resources are always limited. Always. The time we have available to us is always limited. 100% of definitely always limited; we are mortal creatures. This life is not about a grind. It’s about an experience. A journey. I have limited resources, limited time, and still have so many things in life to enjoy, to attempt, to savor, to experience for the first time or again… planning is not about restrictions on any of that; planning lets me cram more life into that limited lifetime, and do so sufficiently skillfully to avoid exceeding my resources. It’s lets me “pace myself” so that self-care is handled as routine and high priority, too. It lets me identify and set priorities. The plan just has to connect to the lived reality – and that takes choices.

So many choices. I like saying “yes!” to life! Nonetheless, sometimes there’s got to be a “no” involved, now and then; those resources remain finite, limited, and don’t “stretch to fit” in any real sense. This is going to be a pay period more about saying “no” than about saying “yes”, and living the planning very closely. That’s just real. This morning? I’m not even upset or stressed by that. The “plan B” options look every bit as sufficient, practical, and enjoyable as plan A. There’s just no room for “yes!” levels of spontaneity in this one. That has to be okay, too. 🙂 That’s how it works.

I finish my coffee. It’s still quite early. Time to get started on the planned weekend ahead. There are some verbs involved; the choices are already made. 🙂 I only need to begin.

Each day dawns, entirely new, filled with potential and choices.

* Just a note about what I mean by “living well”; I mean living a quality of life that is sustainably comfortable, adequate, sufficient for my own needs, characterized generally by contentment, which allows me to pay my bills and also do things I enjoy without over-extending myself, or putting my future good quality of life at risk. I do not mean spending money lavishly on branded luxury goods, flashy brag-worthy baubles, or throwing cash around like candy corn at Halloween, or being a hard-balling big-spender. (With my resources, that’s not affordable, or sustainable, and with my temperament, it’s not desirable.)