Archives for posts with tag: be the change

Home from work. Long, busy, fairly productive day. Unfinished tasks. Minor stressors. A society in decline – or at a minimum, exceedingly public and uncomfortable turmoil. Major stressors. Rainy. Chilly. Arthritis pain. I make a trip through the house adjusting things: thermostat, Giftmas tree lights, set the oven to pre-heat to make dinner, this light, that light, tidy this up, move a thing from one location to another, boots off, jacket hung up. Routine.

I sit down and find myself faced with the world, filtered through the Internet. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t count, in any way, as “down time” – or pleasant. So… maybe not, then? I close social media tabs. I close my email. I close the news. I sit quietly for a moment listening to the commuter traffic on the busy street beyond my window.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling my shoulders slowly drop to a more natural posture. I pull myself more fully upright, and feel that lessen my arthritis pain, somewhat.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling the chill of the room diminish as the heat runs. I make a point to acknowledge colder circumstances with fewer resources and less privilege, when I would not have had the luxury of just turning up the heat at the end of the work day. I enjoy the warmth of being aware how grateful I am to have heat at home. It’s very much worth a moment to appreciate these circumstances.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, content with the simple meal now prepared, and in the oven. I feel hopeful that the headache lingering since afternoon will diminish after a nutritious meal, and chide myself gently for overlooking lunch.

I take a deep breath and let it out – and just smile, sitting for a moment with the awareness of how fortunate I am, generally. I let the moment fill my thoughts with pleasant recollections: things that worked today, clear communications well-received, completed tasks, satisfied consumers, work well-done, a pleasant commute home, that ping during the day from my Traveling Partner just saying he loves and misses me, the beautiful view from the window nearest my desk at work. A feeling of contentment and relaxation slowly builds.

I take another breath.

I take another breath.

I pause to feel a moment of gratitude for breath itself, for the chance to go on breathing, to recognize and really enjoy having survived so much, to be here, now, to enjoy (versus endure) the life I live.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee and taking in the slow gray dawn. No sunrise this morning. No glints of gold or peach off the last clinging autumn leaves. Just a homogeneous gray sky slowly lightening from a deep charcoal gray to a steely gray, and just now reaching a soft dove gray. My coffee is cold, from a can I took out of the refrigerator.Β  It’s a hell of a luxury – convenience generally is, though I tend not to notice very often.

Funny how conveniences can become a loss of good character and will over time, though, isn’t it? I’ve noticed that when I yield to convenience such that a particular convenience becomes habitual, I lose interest in making the effort that a task or experience once required without the conveniences. Huh. I gotta work on that; I see some very problematic potential outcomes of losing the will to exert effort for what I want. πŸ™‚ If nothing else, it is autumn, heading towards winter, and I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. This will be the last can of cold brew for a while. There are fresh good quality coffee beans in the hopper of the burr grinder. Coffee mugs are clean. The kitchen itself, untidy after being sick, is at least ready for making coffee. lol I take another sip of this cold brew, and really take it in: the flavor, the coldness, the peculiar lack of depth or nuance to both the taste and fragrance – I mean, no surprise, it came out of a can, right? Fresh squeezed orange juice will always taste quite deliciously different from orange juice from a bottle or carton, right? Same here. Freshly ground, freshly and skillfully brewed coffee by its very nature tastes quite different from any can of cold brew – however convenient or tasty – ever could.

There’s a metaphor here, and I continue to sip this fairly nondescript, but wholly convenient, cup of coffee and consider the metaphor (and allegory) from many angles.

I look out the window. It has been some moments since the sky was a smooth wash of dove gray, and it is, now, taking on a hint of… something else. Not pink. Not peach. Not mauve. Not lavender. Some odd color I have no name for that sits somewhere in the junction of all of those. How strange. I sit quietly, just watching the sky, trying to name this color I see, but which is somehow unfamiliar and nameless. I take another sip of my coffee, which now seems entirely wrong for this moment. lol This is a summer coffee in an autumn moment, like a “wrong note” in a jazz solo; I wait for the next note to tie it all together. πŸ™‚

I take a moment to appreciate the physical details of this moment, too. The heat came on. The thermostat is set for a comfortable 68 degrees, which seems “just right” for first thing in the morning. The air feels a bit dry in the house. My head isn’t stuffy this morning, though, and for the moment my fairly persistent headache is gone. I’m in no particular amount of pain – pain-free? Dare I notice and make the observation? Huh. It’s a nice start to a day I hope to spend decorating for Giftmas. πŸ˜€

My mind wanders thinking about Giftmas future, and Giftmas past. Those thoughts are also about the things in life I’ve kept along the way, and the things I have lost or left behind. It’s not an especially poignant moment, and feels more practical, and observant. It’s a journey, and as with most of the journeys I have taken in life, there’s only so much baggage I can lug along the way. Sometimes, it’s necessary to let things go. Hell – sometimes that is the very best next step that can be taken; let it go. Let this go. Let that go. Let the big deal go. Let the petty bullshit go. Walk on. Keep what works best. Keep what supports my intention most. Keep what lifts me up. Keep what lifts up others. Learn what works, practice that, and share it. Let the rest go. Like the last can of summer’s cold brew, savor the experience, drink it in, enjoy what qualities of value it can offer, learn from what isn’t so pleasant – let the rest go, like an emptied can of cold brew, into the recycling. πŸ™‚

Today I’ll sort through memories and life lessons while I sort through fragile glass ornaments, placing each one “just so” to consider and enjoy, to ponder, to learn from. This is a season of self-reflection, and a season of change.

Gentle commute. Quiet evening. It has taken some time and rather a lot of hot broth, but worth the result – for some moments to come, my raw throat and trachea are just a little less raw. The cough has, for now, subsided. I am at ease, neither anxious nor excited. I… feel okay. I mean, other than being still a bit less than ideally well. I feel… better. I definitely feel better. Better is enough.

That got me smiling. Just the recognition of “enough” in real-time, I mean. It’s a nice feeling. Subtle. Hard to easily describe. It’s a feeling with nuance and depth. Something like “appreciation” and something like “satisfaction”, but honestlyΒ  very much its own feeling. “Enough”. Sufficiency.

Fuck, I am so glad I’m not chasing more/better/faster all the damned time, anymore. That shit was exhausting, and I wasn’t even getting ahead. Pointless wasted effort. Especially pointless because, at the time, I wasn’t learning anything from it. I had to pay someone and take some time to have someone else point it out to me. lol I’m pretty ordinarily human in every respect.

I finish off another cup of delicious chicken broth. My throat and trachea thank me. I consider having yet another. It just feels super good to pour hot brothy liquid down my throat again and again. I smirk at myself, recognizing the moment that “enough” becomes “not enough” and the temptation to chase a sensation rears its head, however briefly. So human.

I sit quietly awhile, contemplating what it is to be human.

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. πŸ™‚ No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. πŸ™‚

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

I’m sipping my coffee and feeling vaguely guilty about being sick, which is, to say the least, just fucking dumb. I mean to say, it only comes up when associated with the potential that being sick will cause me to fall short of someone else’s expectations, or potentially result in the failure to tick off boxes on someone else’s agenda than the important matter immediately at hand; getting over being sick.

…I’d ideally like to survive all my experiences…

If this were the weekend, I’d certainly be annoyed to spend it being sick, but there would be no guilt or anxiety involved at all. I’d just be down sick, and doing my best to take care of myself. I struggle with that idea when work is involved. It’s weird and counter-productive (from the perspective of taking care of myself).

I woke feeling worse than yesterday, although generally speaking yesterday actually mostly felt better than the day before. The cold or whatever that this is has begun settling into my chest. By midday yesterday, I’d begun to develop an annoying dry cough. I started losing my voice intermittently, before losing it altogether by evening. I woke several times during the night, and slept restlessly, waking myself from coughing. Ah, but I can work from home! πŸ™‚ Shit. How is this supposed to work, in practice? Am I really up for it, or am I expending limited life force on a slow march to eventually landing in the ER with something worse? I go back and forth with myself… work from home? (Don’t be such a drama queen – it’s just a fucking cold!) Don’t work at all and just call out? (You don’t get to tell me what my experience is like! You just don’t even know what I’m going through! Shrew. What if I’m literally dying?) Being sick does tend to make adulting much more challenging. (You’re not dying. Make another cup of tea and get on with things.) Choices. Decisions. Actions. Every step is a challenge, and I’m sick and I just don’t even want to bother.

…This morning’s illness-related ire would rise to the level of a childish tantrum, only I am simply too sick to expend that kind of energy on literally anything that isn’t coughing… So… there’s that.

…And, to be fair, there’s also this; being sick at home presents a small number of pleasant distractions in the form of autumn visitors to the deck.

A fit of coughing interrupts my writing, and I also manage to spill fresh hot coffee all over myself. I start crying over spilled coffee, and my emotional volatility erupts unpleasantly into that tantrum I didn’t think I had energy for. Huh. I guess I did after all. Tears turn briefly to hysteria – and laughter – and then, for some bonus fun, I start choking on sinus drainage and phlegm as the Mucinex I took when I got up finally starts doing its thing. Gross. I’m a mess. I walk away from the writing and head to the shower; if nothing else, a hot shower and clean clothes will feel better.

I come back to my writing refreshed, and still uncertain how much capability for work I’ve really, honestly, fairly, frankly, legitimately do have – would I be better off calling out and going back to bed? The titular question is rhetorical; our willingness to exploit ourselves for someone else’s gain (generally an employer) has a long and fairly vile history. We yield to it mostly willingly (even defending the notion, generation after generation) after years of brain-washing, repetition, and programming that the primary goal (and obligation) of adulthood is “gainful employment”.

My brain quickly fills my thoughts with reminders of all the shit on my calendar, and all the shit in my inbox, and all the shit I want to get done because it absolutely needs to get done… “you can’t afford not to work”, the rallying cry of exploitation. Fuck. I do actually have a lot of stuff to do – and no back up on a lot of it. I settle on “doing what I can” and balancing that with attempting to also take care of myself as well as I am able to. I don’t know what this choice looks like in practice. Time to start figuring that out.

I guess I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

 

…I ended up calling out, and going back to bed. It was the wiser choice, if somewhat uncomfortable.