Archives for posts with tag: ACT

Damn. Fuck this week. Already. Shit.

I say “this week”, but in all reasonable ways, and well-considered perspectives, this has been building slowly, event by event, detail by detail, day by day, and stitched together by threads of good intentions, affection, kindness, and commitments. I’m still having some moments of major anxiety as delicately balanced circumstances teeter on the edge of not going very well at all, which is stressful on a level I don’t recall feeling in a long time. It’s hard.

…Every new responsibility adds to the burden.

…Every new need piles on still more to a growing list of shit to do.

…Every new moment of stress dials up the intensity of the anxiety in the background.

…Every day… each moment… add another… then another… now one more… still standing? Here, have a little more extra… and more… and again… and still… and even… and then… and now… wait…what?? No time for questions – go go go!!

I caught myself “screaming into the void” on the commute home – a solo rant, with some ferocity, something on the order of a spoken word performance, or poetry, only much less pleasant. lol Not tearful, not exactly frustrated – just mad… about feeling anxious. Mad about feeling ill-equipped to be fully adult, even now. Mad at circumstances that could be just the tiniest bit better and end up quite splendid. Angry just to feel these ancient-seeming feelings of “shouldering the load” again. It’s not any one thing. It’s not any one individual. It’s not specifically work orΒ specifically personal. It’s not lacking in context. I’m not “in it alone”. I’m just one human, having this human moment of mine, myself, and really feeling it. Which is… uncomfortable.

Mid-rant I remembered something I have been finding important; I don’t grow much through experiences that are comfortable, or reliably pleasant, or completely planned and predictable… or easy. That’s just real. Ease does not correlate with personal growth. That thought shut me down completely for a moment. I even stopped being so aggravated by that ludicrously slow driver ahead of me (15 in a 25 – one lane, no passing room) maintaining easily 3 car lengths of distance from the car ahead… during the evening rush hour commute… down a road with intersections more frequently than every quarter mile… with bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him for many blocks (I could see when I got a good view from the top of the hill in my review mirror). Yep. Even that stopped bugging me in the moment that I realized I’d been handed something precious – discomfort, anxiety, and a chance to work through those things and grow.

I’m pretty committed to my personal growth as a human being – I don’t know how much time I’ve got to complete this project, really, and I’d like to get as far along as I can toward being the human being I most want to be. It’s a real and true thing, that “doing better than I did yesterday” is a bit more complicated if the days roll by so gently that what I feel most of the time is delicious simple contentment, wrapped in the affection and high regard of those who hold me dear. I can choose change, but I won’t kid you; I’m not likely to choose to be uncomfortable, stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried, nervous, or in dread of what comes next out of this craze-tacular fun house of chaos and human drama. I like it easy.

Well it doesn’t feel fucking easy right about now. I’m having to bring a lot of attention to maintaining good self-care practices in the face of a lot more stress than has been commonplace for a couple years now. I’m having to skillfully practice “letting shit go” when holding on to it only creates more stress, and has no productive outcome. I’m having to really search for perspective, really work to find balance, and really practice the practices that have brought me so far in such a short time – as if failing to do so could send me crashing into a pit of despair (which it easily could). So many verbs. So little time. πŸ˜‰

Tonight I’m not doing beginnings – just practicing. πŸ˜‰

…A soft autumn rain begins to fall beyond the open window. I chat a bit with my Traveling Partner. The scent of petrichor wafts into the room, filling the space with fragrant reminders that this too will pass. Summer is ending. The tightness in my chest and shoulders begins to diminish. My breathing becomes deeper as a smile starts to transform my face. I’m okay right now. I let my thoughts glide over my day gently, finding a kinder truth in tense moments that are now behind me. I listen deeply to my internal dialogue, pointing myself to a compassionate path, reconsidering human beings in the context of their humanity. Reminding myself to assume positive intent, each time I note that perhaps I had not done so. I take time, too, for gratitude; a lot of people came through for me today, in so many small ways. My smile feels pretty steady, and I feel pretty much at ease; the anxiety in the background is subtle now, less a plague and more a pimple. (…Maybe if I don’t fuck with it, it will clear up on its own?)

I listen to the traffic go by outside. The house is very near to the street, and the walls don’t keep out much noise. Right now it isn’t bothering me; I am aware of the open window. That makes a difference to me for some reason. The noise doesn’t matter. The smile matters more. This gentle moment matters more. Taking a little time to enjoy the moment matters more. Following through on moments and smiles may not save the world, but right now, in this moment, it’s enough. πŸ™‚

The last day or two have been strangely filled with the sound of breaking habits and routines. Again this morning, coffee holds no appeal. I have chai tea instead. With almond milk. My shower is cool, almost cold, and I take it before I do much of anything else, instead of after yoga or dumbbells. I put my shoes on as soon as I got dressed, instead of just before I leave. My TBI seems to be “whispering at me” through the fatigue and distractions; habits breaking everywhere, because that’s what does seem to happen with me under these circumstances.

I whisper back to the woman in the mirror, “keep it together, you’ve got this – now wear is your work badge, and why is it not hanging on the hook where it belongs? damn.” So human.

I remind myself to “stay on the path”. I go through the motions of the other usual morning things, check the clock, notice it is almost time to leave for work (already??) and I hadn’t written a word, or even scrolled through my feed (who are you??). It’s okay. It’s just my version of spontaneity. LOL I’m fine, just… a bit stressed, managing my anxiety, and living life pulled in more directions than I typically prefer. I take a healthy calming breath, and let it go.

It’s a Friday. Here’s a weekend ahead of me. It’s time to begin again.

The quality of the sleep I am getting seems good. I’m not waking during the night. I’m getting to bed at an hour that results in no less than 7 hours of sleep, which I seem to be getting. I’m consuming carefully measured quantities of caffeine, and limiting that to early in the day. I mentally run down the list of carefully selected good sleep hygiene practices that I rely on to get the most out of my resting hours…

…Regardless of all that, I am particularly groggy upon waking to the alarm these last couple work days. My body feels rested. My brain feels unready for the new day. I’m doing my best to properly wake up, to be thoughtful, coherent, ready for the day. So far this is more an exercise in effort than any sort of effective achievement.

A moment in the garden on a summer evening.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the summer heat. The garden isn’t as lush as I’d like it to be. Summer heat. I’m often away all weekend. The time taken to water during the week, before work, and again in the evening as the heat slowly begins to fade to cooler night-time temperatures, really makes a difference when I’m not at home to do it on weekends. This past weekend many of the roses bloomed in what seems a rather early second blossoming of loveliness and fragrance. I take a moment to feel grateful to have gotten to see it.

This year, just one flower.

Peeking out from the summer foliage, a single flower blooms on Nozomi, a delicate miniature rose that is a long-time favorite that I’ve had since… 1993? This year she’s only bloomed this once; she is usually among the most prolific bloomers among my roses. I make a mental note to re-pot her this winter.

“Feeling overwhelmed” is an experience fairly common to being human. Seems more common these days, for more people, although I’d begun to experience it much less myself. Starting in November, 2016, it has become, once again, plenty common for me, as well. “It’s all just too much” is the feeling. I give myself a little internal moment of real understanding, because, as feelings go, the most appropriate response to the feeling of “it’s all just too much” is simply “yes, yes it is” followed by “we’ll get through this, together”. A deep breath. A sigh. I move on from the moment; every moment passes.

I think over an interaction with a friend from earlier this week. She was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears. “It’s all just too much!” A moment of sympathy and support rather quickly became quiet frustration and puzzlement, as it became apparent that she was investing in her feeling of being overwhelmed by building that and growing it, rather than sorting it out and easing her own suffering. Attempts to support and help her weren’t seeming either supportive or helpful, as she quickly interrupted anything helpful, soothing, or perspective-offering, (that could have just as easily been used to calm herself) to reinforce her self-inflicted, home-grown, utterly subjective internal experience with quick contradictions, veering tangents, and distractingly vague exclamations of distress. She quickly shored up her powerfully negative narrative each time I attempted to bring clarity or calm to the shared moment together. So frustrating. Eventually, the time-sensitive nature of schedules and calendars intervened. I went on with my day. She went on with her tears. I am still puzzled at the whole thing; it’s hard to fathom someone not actually accepting the help and support they’ve sought out. I still just don’t get it.

…I don’t have to “get it” – a lot of what is going on just isn’t at all about me. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. That’s not only okay, it’s necessary; I can’t shoulder the burden of all the world’s chaos and damage alone. I manage my piece as skillfully as I am able. I try not to add to the pile. πŸ˜‰

Still groggy, I check the time. Well, damn. It’s already that time again. I hit that metaphorical reset button, look out the window into a pre-dawn sky that reminds me summer will end, and likely sooner than I expect. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

It was a less than ideally comfortable moment, last week, when my therapist so frankly and calmly observed that I seemed “unwell” and that “we” need to work on that. He doesn’t play when it comes to mental and emotional health, that’s sort of his whole deal, but the “we” who needs to work on my mental and emotional health? Yeah, that’s me. He’s a great resource, but the verbs entirely belong to me. lol

I explored his observations over the weekend. I considered his words – and reconsidered mine, in context. I contemplated where practices were failing me, and was frank with myself regarding practices that were not being consistently practiced, or perhaps were less than effective, over time. I made some changes, because change is a thing, and embracing it can really work in my favor (and has, more than once).Β  My therapist proved to be quite correct about a number of things. It’s a journey. I’m very human. There are ample opportunities to begin again. lol

I already feel more balanced, contented, stable, and confident that “things will be okay”. It’s a good place to be on a Thursday, ahead of a work day, in the middle of a week that has been rather busy. I’m looking forward to the weekend. (I’d really like to sleep in.)

I’d started feeling really overwhelmed by my “to do list”, which just never seems to diminish, and had some “permanent” items that seemed sort of… stuck there. lol I’ve been tackling those one by one, now. That feels pretty good. I’d begun to avert my eyes from my list of shit that needs to get done… because I didn’t really feel like doing… any of it. Oh my. A hint of depression had apparently crept into my emotional life. Too much OPD? Oh, hell yes. LOL That shit’s toxic. It’s definitely depressing to be exposed to too much of that crap.

I’m not very skilled with depression. Despair is a familiar demon, but depression? Less so. I failed to notice the weight on my experience. My sluggishness and apathy seemed inexplicable to me. The constant fatigue and lack of fucks to give in life, generally, was foreign. Thankfully, depression is a familiar form for my therapist, and he recognized it, pointed it out, and provided me some direction. Win and good. I feel myself getting back on my path. Most particularly, building on the firm foundation of a weekend spending loved and loving, I feel each day improve upon the one before it, as my “to do list” slowly dwindles, and order is restored to my experience. πŸ™‚

It’s okay to get help, when we need it. I hope that you do, if you are struggling, alone. πŸ™‚

My Thursday is off to a good start. I may not save the world, today, but I’m on track to enjoy my experience. Sometimes, that’s enough. πŸ˜€

I often think of life as a metaphorical garden. (Isn’t it?)

I sometimes stray down the path without tending the garden.

The healthy tilth is a good starting point; planting seeds in crags and rocks may not yield a generous crop of fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Understanding what is fertile ground, and how to prepare ground for planting has value.

Composting scraps and garden waste skillfully results in more fertile soil… but which scraps are suitable, and which will ruin the compost? Not all that is waste or scrap is worth keeping.

Lush and beautiful, chosen with care. We reap what we sow, and how we tend our garden matters.

Choosing seeds and plants with care, understanding the climate, and the seasons, locally, in my own garden, really matters; however fertile the soil, planting something that can’t thrive in my climate puts my garden at a disadvantage.

A weed in one context may be a crop in another.

Taking care, every day, to nurture my garden, to fertilize when needed, to water, to cut back spent blooms, to weed out noxious or invasive intruders that consume resources, but yield nothing, matters greatly over time. If I am not present, some plants may thrive, willy-nilly, coincidental to the luck of the rainfall and the weather, but the outcome is left to chance – other plants will wither and die. My harvest may not be plentiful. My blooming season limited.

My roses suffer my lack of attention; this is true of most things that require attention.

Self-care works very much in this same way. I don’t suppose I need to spell it all out more factually – if you already keep a garden, you already get it. πŸ™‚

My results vary, as does the weather.

I haven’t been home much, lately. Most weekends I am away. I travel to see my Traveling Partner, catching up with him wherever he is. I travel to see friends. I travel for this or that event or festival. I travel on a whim. I catch myself yearning to be at home, in my own garden…

…Yes, it’s a metaphor. πŸ™‚

This weekend I am at home. I am in my own garden, tending it with care, making up for lost time, present, and appreciating this moment, right here. It’s enough to be here, now, and there is no need or time for self-criticism, or what-ifs, or if-onlys. This is now, and now is enough, and I am here, enjoying it with the woman in the mirror – who has been missing this quiet place, and time.

Be present. See wonders. Experience the moment, fully.

The morning started slowly, and auspiciously enough; I slept in. I woke gently in the twilight of a new day, the room turning light in spite of the curtains, as day broke. I got up. Showered. Found my feet carrying me toward the car as soon as I was dressed. Coffee-to-Go and a breakfast sandwich on a hilltop looking out across the countryside, with a view of Mt Hood beyond. Bare feet. Damp grass. Contentment. No firm plan, and coffee finished, I found my way to the farmer’s market, then heading home with fresh local strawberries, fully ripe – the sort one never finds in a grocery store. The scent fills the car.

I arrive home, smiling so hard my face hurt, in spite of the peculiarly moody dark sky, threatening imminent rain (that has only now started to fall, some hours later). I make a Turkish coffee, melt some chocolate, and feast on strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, sipping coffee, in my garden. I raise my cup cheerily at a robin who joins me, watching me from the deck rail. There is work to do in my garden, metaphorical or otherwise, and I have been away far too much for my own good. I finish my coffee, then finish the spring planting, finish the weeding, finish the watering, just in time to head indoors before the rain comes. I leave a strawberry, fat, juicy, and fully ripe, on the deck rail… in case of visitors. πŸ™‚

Rain is definitely coming.

Inside, my metaphorical life-garden greets me, and here too there is work to be done. Untidiness has crept in, a corner here, a stack of paperwork over there, a piece of gear that was not put away, a book askew from all the rest, a stray sock left where it fell, unnoticed, and so much laundry that very much wants to be put away… I’m still smiling. It’s a good day to begin again. πŸ™‚