Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

The sunlight is beginning to fade – early evening, approaching sunset, and still another couple hours (guessing) of day light before dusk settles. This is a favorite time of day, for me. I love the light, in the evenings. I enjoy the way the peach and gold and amber tones give a moment a certain luster it might otherwise lack.

…The election is approaching… Yeah, I know, me too; no real desire to talk about, struggle to avoid the inevitable next news story, talking head, or conversation in which the election is the topic of conversation. I mean, for fucks’ sake, vote. Please take at least that quite seriously. There’s no point in attempting to sway your individual viewpoint; we’ve all “shown up” and we’ve all attempted to make our point very clear over the past four years, with little success most of the time, and we’re all exhausted, frustrated, and saddened by the friendships ended by the divisiveness of the current administration. It’s been ugly. Let’s just get this shit over with, and just maybe begin life anew, sometime in November, rebuilding relationships, reaching across divides, maybe even “unburning” some bridges? I mean… we could. We so easily could begin again. πŸ˜‰

Where will your path take you?

It can be so tempting to hang the entire future on a moment. Election or otherwise, there is so much more potential to an entire future than one moment. Just saying.

I’ve stopped reading news articles that lead with a headline of some doomsday scenario that is 100% pure imagination and potential, with nothing actually supporting the likelihood. I mean… I could tumble into a nearby creek after being struck by lightening while being bitten by a snake… but it seems unlikely. If I plan my day around that potential, or imagine a future that is dependent on the outcomes that could only result from that happenstance, I haven’t done anything particularly useful for my emotional wellness, my outlook on life, or even managed to be adequately prepared for what may actually be in my probable possible futures. lol I’m taking this thought farther than a “don’t catastrophize” reminder…

…It wasn’t so long ago that I was reading the news so compulsively, and so often, that my “state of mind” was adversely affected. I was anxious to the point of madness – and mostly over shit that had neither truth to it, nor noteworthy probability of actually occurring. I’ve stopped doing that, figuring that “falling behind on current events” by hours or days is a small price to pay for enjoying my life, and maintaining my sanity. πŸ™‚ It’s already difficult enough to know how to be effective in the world… trying to do that on the basis of a bunch of alarming made up shit makes it just that much less likely that I’ll do anything besides become spun out and exhausted with frustration and outrage. (Perhaps that is truly the point of that style of “news” reporting? Render us captivated… but ineffective…?)

Reminder: COVID-19 – the pandemic? Remember that? Yeah. That’s not “made up shit”. That’s real. Just saying. Your choices matter. Protect each other. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Stay home when you’re sick and work on getting well. The pandemic is not a wholesale attack on our fucking civil liberties, and yes, it can “get to you” too. The lockdowns are a drag, I know. People are bored and eager to get out again. It’s hard. I get it. Fine. Do you. The death toll is climbing. Your choices affect other people – people who matter to you, not just far away strangers. (If you don’t believe that, I won’t convince you, now, I just don’t want to be that person who didn’t point it out when it came up in conversation. I guess I’m literally “just saying…”)

Weird time. The pandemic has been part of this entire year… I take a moment to consider that. I let myself begin again, new moment, new thoughts.

It’s quiet here in my studio. I hear the sound of a saw in my Traveling Partner’s wood shop in the garage. Sounds of home. I smile. Contentment may not be “the same as” happiness… still, I like it very much… and at this point, the line between feeling “happy” and feeling “contented” is rather blurry. I’m okay with that. I can so easily practice contentment, through sufficiency, observation, presence, acceptance, and non-attachment. Contentment builds over time. Practice by practice, moment by moment. Chasing happiness was neither satisfying, nor, as it turns out, was it particularly achievable. πŸ™‚ I’m pretty okay where I stand in my life, today. It’s enough. πŸ˜€

What does it take to be “happy”? Sometimes autumn pears are enough… sometimes it takes a bit more work (and patience, and practice).

I think over the day. The week. The summer. The move. This peculiar year. Life in the time of pandemic…

…Then I begin again.

Today is off to a rough start. I’m writing early, with tears on my face. This morning begins with a challenge. I’m not always ready to measure my words, to smile accommodatingly at the world, or to be prepared for things to skid sideways unexpectedly over some random thing and handle it with grace and diplomacy. I’m not that skilled or resilient, yet. I’m taking my coffee in the studio, this morning, as far from other human beings as this house permits. Fuck humans. This morning I have already had enough of people.

…That didn’t take long…

An innocent seeming remark, taken personally, wrecks what had some small shot at being a good morning. It sucks. Weekday morning. I’ve got work in a little while. I’m wreckage. God damn it this sucks all kinds of completely.Β  We’ve got a house guest too, on top of just sucking generally, so on top of the general sucking – we’re having an argument at 5 o’clock in the morning while a guest tries to sleep through our bullshit. Fucking hell. Not okay. On top of the stress of this, generally, I’m also deeply embarrassed by our basic rudeness.

Fuck people. Fuck relationships. Fuck having to deal with any of it, ever, at all. I am feeling bitter, and I am feeling blue. I am angry that a small well-intentioned observation that was emotionally neutral at the moment it was spoken, turned into this shitstorm of emotional sewage so early in the morning. I feel robbed of a pleasant morning. He does too, enough to make a point of expressing unhappiness that I would choose to be in my studio, writing, instead of hanging out with him, even as things are right now. (I admit, I don’t get that – I don’t even want to be around me right now.)

…I slept like shit…

…I woke up feeling cross and headache-y…

…I was already “not in a good place”…

…I’m in pain…

Realistically, I can’t put this morning on my partner. My emotions? Mine to deal with. I apologized to him. He didn’t hear me. He apologized to me. I didn’t hear him. We repeat the cycle. Eventually apologies are audible. We hear each other. We acknowledge those words. He wants to talk. To engage. To restore emotional intimacy. I want to withdraw to the safety of solitude. He feels hurt by my rejection. I feel hurt by his lack of understanding that I want to provide myself with some basic self-care right now. We repeat the cycles we’re most familiar with. Doing differently is serious work.

…I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee…

Making predictions about the day may tend to “lock in” the assumptions I’d have to make to do so. It’s a poor choice. I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. I keep at it. Breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breath. Letting my shoulders relax. Pulling my posture upright. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I hear my typing cadence begin to become even. Regular. A steady beat. Less chaotic and tempestuous. There are choices here. Verbs. Effort. Will. The journey is not always an easy one. The road ahead is not always smooth under my feet when I walk it. There is no growth or forward momentum in what is easiest, only joy and contentment. My results vary. I need more practice.

…I’ve gotta admit, I do like the joy and contentment, though…

I sip my coffee. Contentment can be built. More verbs. A lot of practice. We become what we practice. What am I practicing? (I can’t do a fucking thing about anyone else’s practices, only my own, that’s just real.) Am I, as I sit here, the woman I most want to be? (I could do better.) Still human. So human.

It’s a fairly shitty morning so far. I could definitely do better. I guess I have to begin again.

…Time to get on with that…

First there was the sound of a loud bump or bang. I heard that through the wall of my studio, where I was working. Then, I heard the sound of… running water? Like… loud. Splashing. From a room with no source of water… Shit. The aquarium… I pushed my chair back abruptly and went quickly to the room next door. There was water pooling on the carpet and soaking in, everywhere. Shards and chunks of glass. I could hear the water still flowing and see my Traveling Partner trapped on the other side of a tall bookcase, standing off-kilter, askew, leaning against the wall, above and into the shattered side of the 10 gallon aquarium in the room I call “my library”. Fucking hell. I helped push the bookcase into a standing position, to allow my partner to get around it, and out. He was doing the “calm-but-freaked-out” thing that happens to people when they are mired in an unexpected disaster. “I don’t know what to do, here…” he admitted. A different section of my brain than is the typical day-to-day was still engaged; I’d been working on a complex problem against a deadline. I hear my calm firm voice reply “move the bookcase out of the room so we can get started on clean up; I’ll get towels”.

I handed my partner the entire towel-content of the linen closet, and while he began mopping up water, I began picking up the biggest pieces of glass with great care, avoiding areas that appeared covered in small shards. Task by task we got the worst things handled straight away. Fish, snails, and shrimp, the living creatures were recovered and put into suitable water as quickly as we spotted them. Our tiny portable shop vac, advertised as “wet or dry” definitely wasn’t up for this challenge. Creatures retrieved and placed into water, I headed purposefully to the nearest hardware store for a proper shop-vac worthy of a garage that is planned to become, over time, my partner’s workshop/maker space. While I did that, my partner stayed behind, cleaning up more water and throwing the used, soaking wet towels into the wash. He placed the shattered aquarium, improbably still held together by a cheap plastic bottom frame and silicon-sealed joints at the corners, into a plastic tote big enough to hold it, and then supported one side a bit higher, allowing a pool of water to remain – a haven for any shrimp or fish we hadn’t netted successfully earlier. He moved the almost-new wooden aquarium stand (a cabinet type) off the soaked carpet beneath it, and into a dry place in the garage, with a breeze on it, so it would, perhaps, dry out.

…Sometimes a project goes very wrong, without any provocation or obvious cause…

I decided to re-home the now-homeless creatures (surviving in a small pitcher) by putting them into my big aquarium (and because there was little opportunity to acclimate them well or quarantine them, I was explicitly also choosing to “hope for the best” on their survival – and that of the community they joined so quickly). The big Mystery Snail was unfolding from her shell and beginning to explore almost immediately. The wee delicate Otocinclus, which were spotted and carefully netted by my Traveling Partner during the chaos and clean-up, surprised me with their resilience when I encouraged them out of the small pitcher they were in, and into the large community tank; they quickly joined the three Otocinclus there and began to settle in. The Blue Velvet Shrimp… well, they’re hard to spot against the dark substrate of the broken aquarium, honestly. Did we get them all? Really? I’m not certain, but I think we did. Later this morning, I’ll check for dead, dying, or injured creatures, and salvage the substrate, and decor, from the shattered tank (the plants have already been moved to the big tank). I don’t yet know if I will set up a second tank, again… for now that’s only a thought. More a question.

She doesn’t even have a name. I’m nonetheless surprisingly attached to her.

Funny thing… during the first days moving in, I carelessly spilled 2-3 gallons of water on our beautiful living room floor. I wailed in disappointment and self-inflicted emotional pain, in that moment. I cried – for nearly an hour, almost in hysterics over the mess, and throughout the time it took to clean it all up. I felt I had “ruined everything” in some catastrophic way. (I hadn’t. Clean water, vinyl floor… it was mostly just a pain in the ass, and very annoying after working with such care to bring the aquariums home to the new house.) This time? 8 gallons or so of actual “fish water”? Spilled into carpet? With living creatures tossed out into open air? A small hole gouged into the wall by the falling bookcase? Broken glass everywhere? This was a much bigger deal…Β  and I was beyond calm about it. Stressed, sure, but also measured, reasonable, practical, and purposeful. No tears. Still, even now, no tears. No one bleeding. No one died. House still standing.

As of now, this morning, I don’t think even one creature actually died during the mishap… and the new shop-vac did a great job of pulling the water out of the carpet. My Traveling Partner was skillful, effective, and cooperative; we worked together to deal with the worst of things, allowing me to return to work (first day back!); he finished the clean-up.Β  We began again. We hung out. We watched videos. We ate salads.

I sip my coffee this morning, preparing for the day ahead, reflecting for a moment on yesterday’s successes – and challenges. Wondering at the differences in the way I handled two somewhat similar small disasters, and learning just a bit more about what makes the woman in the mirror tick. I consider the day ahead and hope for an easy, uneventful, day – relaxed and productive, would be ideal, I think. I’ll be quite appreciative and grateful for a day approaching routine and ordinary. I give thought to my sleeping partner in the other room, hoping that he wakes well-rested, and feeling good.

I glance at the time. I’m unsurprised to find that it’s already time to begin again. I could use another cup of coffee…Β  πŸ™‚

My dreams chased me through war zones and down dark hallways last night. I’m sipping my coffee grateful to escape The Nightmare City without much else to say about it. Definitely nightmares. Not such a big deal now that I am awake.

…I have a dim recollection of being awake during the night…

…This coffee is good. This moment, right here, is just fine. I sit with my coffee, present in my moment. It’s a better way, than older, other ways. It’s enough.

Bleary-eyed, content, and more or less awake, it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚