Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

This is a story about coffee – sort of. πŸ˜‰

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. πŸ™‚

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. πŸ™‚ I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle. Β I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. πŸ™‚

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. πŸ™‚ We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I am slow to wake this morning. The alarm roused me, but I sat quietly for some minutes trying to understand why I was awake, and why the light was on. I have trudged through the morning so far, mostly spent looking over my camping plans for an upcoming weekend of beach camping spent meditating, walking, and observing the autumnal equinox, but not really getting anywhere with my thoughts; I haven’t any.

I notice my first coffee is nearly gone, and more than an hour of my precious limited lifetime too, and still I am not really awake. I add another item to my “to do list” for the upcoming weekend, which I plan to spend on quality of life improvements, generally, and housekeeping, tidying up, and things of that sort. A relaxed weekend of taking care of myself and my living space seems like just the thing to follow a weekend road trip.

I make another coffee. I make some oatmeal. I remind myself to start the dishwasher when I leave for the day. I wonder briefly when I will actually feel awake, and “why today?” I could so easily just go back to sleep… a rare thing for me. I find myself wishing it were already the weekend so that I could – also not my usual approach to morning. A loud irritated sigh punctuates the silence. I definitely need to begin this one again…but…where to start?

This is a very physical experience, so I begin in a physical place. I get up and stretch, and take some deep cleansing breathes, make my way to the kitchen and pour a big glass of water, and take a multi-vitamin. Oatmeal is my common breakfast, but it can’t be said to be nutritionally dense as it is. Coffee? Isn’t water. I walk from room to room drinking my water, and adding a few things to the list of planned weekend tasks. I make a point of being aware of my posture, and holding myself fully upright as I move through my space. I make a point of being aware of my breathing. Hell – I make a point of being aware.

…In time, being “aware” becomes being awake. Beginning again? It’s a thing we get to do, if we choose to do it. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Still… as often as I’d like to do so, I can begin again.

There were other things on my mind to write about as the evening ended last night. Oregon is burning. It’s sort of on my mind, you know? The air is hot, sort of humid or thick feeling in my lungs, and irritating to breathe. The smokey sky has worsened over the past two days, as has the fire in the gorge. I chuckle when I think of the POTUS awkward hurricane Harvey photo-op; I know he won’t be coming to Oregon to be pelted with rocks by black bloc protesters. For some reason, that makes me smile in spite of the terrible natural tragedy of the many wildfires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of forest as days pass (at least one of which was caused by careless people who didn’t think the fire safety restrictions applied to them). This too will pass. The fires will dwindle, or burn out once their fuel source is consumed. The weather will change, as will the climate. The land will be re-seeded, and will bloom again. More likely than not, the Earth will survive us.

Will we?Β 

Isn’t that what we’re really all afraid of? It’s less about the Earth than it is about our own experience on it. Perhaps we are seeing the end of our human infestation on the Earth…? Grim thought. We could do better with our resources, with our conservatorship of this fragile singularly lovely world, and with each other. We could choose to save the world…

Will we begin again?

 

The commute yesterday was ugly. I was calm. People drove badly. I drove calmly. The trip home was slow, traffic density was high, and it was a hot, muggy day. I arrived home… still calm. New. Nice. It was almost a pleasant drive in spite of the shitty traffic and terrible driving behavior of some of the other drivers. This was not a coincidence, or serendipity; I built those moments myself, with mindful awareness, non-judgmental compassion, and frequent reminders that we each see ourselves at the hero of our internal narrative, generally, and are each having our own experience. That jackass ahead of me, weaving back and forth over the yellow line? Human. Like me. Probably trying to see ahead – past the large truck ahead of him. Perspective. (I was still super glad that he finally turned off that road, and it was most definitely a bit annoying to see him stray over that yellow line again and again, but my annoyance was my own to deal with, and literally nothing to do with him.) The entire drive passed in this fashion.

I got home. I spent the evening relaxing, doing a couple things around the house – but mostly relaxing. I may have needed that more than I understood; I also went to bed a tad early, and without reading, or meditating, or any sort of dilly-dallying, was fast asleep so quickly I didn’t have time to consider the day. I woke to the alarm, rested, and feeling mildly distracted, as if torn from a pleasant dream. It’s been a lovely morning. I’ve taken good care of this fragile vessel, and the day starts well. I think I’ve finally come to a comfortable decision about the change in my transportation resources (having a car) and what kind of commuting options I have (both the driving sort, and the transit sort), and I’m finally ready to update my budget and my planning with the necessary details.

This morning, adulting feels rather comfortable and natural. It’s a nice change. I smile and sip my coffee and enjoy the moment of acknowledgement, and the feeling of ease. My smile deepens as I allow the awareness that, yes, “this too will pass” – even the pleasant bits are really fairly temporary. Always were. It’s totally okay. They come and go, and holding on ferociously can’t prolong them, it only makes the pain of their impermanence linger. So. This morning I feel light. I enjoy this carefully hand-crafted moment, as I did the moments in commuter traffic, or standing at the sink washing the dinner dishes, or standing in the shower feeling the water flow over my skin, or looking through my closet for something to wear and feeling content that anything I choose – I am still this person that I am, and I am loved. It’s nice. I highly recommend enjoying moments – and making the choices that result in more pleasant ones than unpleasant ones. There may be some verbs involved. Your results will likely vary (I know mine do). No doubt, you will have your own experience.

I look at the time. I’m eager to begin again. πŸ™‚

Waking up was hard this morning, but with some commitment, I managed it. I did not sleep well last night, and it was very late before I was able to fall asleep. Today, I’ll park at the nearby-ish park-n-ride location, and ride the bus to work. I am not sufficiently rested to be driving in commuter traffic.

Emotionally, I am in a far better place this morning than I was the evening before last, or, again, last night. My visit to see my therapist was well-timed, and the offered insights were helpful.

I arrived home to roses in bloom.

A pleasantly long conversation with my Traveling Partner ended my evening, and although I have been feeling lonelier than usual lately, it definitely went a long way toward putting that right, just hearing the love in his voice.

Moments matter. I make time to really appreciate seeing all the roses recovered from the summer heat and the move.

Waking up is still a struggle this morning. I’m making today work on about 3 hours of nightmare-filled sleep. I sip my coffee, relieved to find it is not too hot to safely drink and drain the cup. I make a second. I’m eager for the weekend after a couple fairly stressful weeks. I even have plans (and if I didn’t, my plan would be to make the drive down to see my partner) – this weekend is Musicfest NW. I’m pretty excited about the lineup. I’m almost as excited about my appointment with my new eye doctor Saturday morning, though, as I am about the music. LOL (I really really need new glasses.)

A few minutes go by, fuzzy and vague, music in the background. I lose track of time thinking about moments that are not now. I smile, finish off the last of coffee number two and pull myself back to “now”. Being present, even for the painful moments, the tired moments, the frustrating moments, matters so much. Life is an experience, disconnecting from it sort of defeats the purpose of living.

I allow myself a moment to “reset”. I’m okay. There’s climate and weather, right? The “climate” of this life is fairly choice, quite good actually, much of the time. I’ve still got emotional weather to deal with now and again. I’m very human.

The morning sky reminds me that change is a thing, and life itself has cycles and seasons; the still-pre-dawn-at-this-hour sky becomes a metaphor and a reminder. I make coffee number three, and begin again. My results do vary, and there are verbs involved… I’m definitely having my own experience. πŸ™‚

There’s a metaphor in the resilience of a rose bush. πŸ™‚

The news? Pretty nearly all bad. The song in my heart? Pretty much, most of the time, all good. The way I get that done? I choose. You can too.

But wait – am I so cruel and clueless as to suggest that people struggling with mental illness can just “choose” to be okay? “Choose” a happier song? “Choose” to get over it? Omg – no. Not really. When we’re sick, we need care. We may need appropriate medicine to treat our illness or injury. We may need a visit with a doctor, or a stay in a hospital. We may be offered a treatment plan to follow… and a different one when that doesn’t quite work out… and another after that… and then… more verbs. Fuck. And results will vary. We each walk our own hard mile. It’s so not as easy as “pick a different song to sing“… except… It’d probably help though, and why would we not, if we can make the effort, choose to do the things that help?

So… I choose. I am, myself, among the “mentally ill”. PTSD is a real thing. My TBI on top of that (or underneath it, as it were) complicates things. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with emotion, generally. I’m very human. This is a journey in progress. I have hard days. I also choose better practices than I once did. Meditation really works well for me, helping me find that chill space in my own head that prevents me descending into despair on some spiral of tears and rumination. Taking better physical care of this fragile vessel has been of value; I am less likely to quickly exhaust myself due to lack of sleep, or poor nutrition. I have fewer nightmares, and I have learned better “sleep hygiene”. Developing better emotional intelligence has incredibly worthwhile; my relationships are more fulfilling, and less fraught with confrontation, because I am more able to take time to listen deeply, to avoid becoming fused with someone else’s emotional experience, or to be manipulated by their expectations and assumptions. I am more able to avoid coloring my experience with an internal narrative built on my own untested assumptions or implicit expectations. These things have value. All of these improvements required making choices, and changing some behavior and thinking. Turns out that isn’t so hard, in most cases – although it also isn’t as easy as just saying words, either. There’s been quite a lot of practice involved – there always will be. Β I’m even okay with that. Incremental change over time is a real thing; we become what we practice.

It makes sense that choosing our practices in a willful way, understanding of our needs, and who we most want to be, would result in eventually getting to that place.Β It ends up also being very helpful, along the way, not getting overly attached to that vision. Outcomes don’t always look quite the way we planned them out in our heads. πŸ™‚

I have an appointment with my therapist next week. Yep. It’s a journey. I still make choices. I still practice practices. I am still walking my own hard mile. Sometimes I still need help. πŸ™‚ I’m okay with that too.

My “stay-cation” destination.

I sip my coffee and consider the short work shift ahead. Change is a thing. I’m back to Monday through Friday, but I have firm plans for today (at the start of the week, it was my day off), so the weekend begins at 11 am, and is a bit longer than usual. πŸ™‚ I hear sleeping in is nice – I’ll try that sometime. Maybe tomorrow. πŸ˜‰ The weekend unfolds ahead of me rather gently. It feels good to contemplate staying home, doing some more moving in stuff… maybe a walk to the Farmer’s Market (it’s time to start trying to put reals miles on these feet, again)… morning coffee in the garden on the deck… just generally saying “yes” to life.

I’m ready to begin again.