Archives for posts with tag: coffee in the morning

I crashed early yesterday. I was tired, and also, sleepy. I figured it had to do with the combination of being sick recently, and also waking up before 3:00 a.m. I went to bed and thought nothing more of it, expecting to be awake very early. At almost precisely 8:00 a.m. this morning (about 12 hours later), I finally woke. It’s rare for me to sleep so deeply, so restfully, for so long.

I still haven’t made coffee. I’m so recently awake that I’m not quite awake enough to care to deal with that more complicated task. Writing is easy, and I’d left the computer logged in over night (fuck, how tired was I??). I am hoping that by sitting down to write, I can more easily prevent myself from randomly going off on some unscripted adventure – the result of not being awake, with car keys in my hand. (My driving and such are just fine before I’m fully awake; my decision-making, generally, is far less so – see “haven’t made coffee” as an example.)

I have the notion to drive to the coast. (I have other things I want, and have planned, to do.) It’s not very far. (It’s a bit more than 2 hours from here). It’s not that I have a plan or intent, or real something-or-other in mind that I’d like to do so see… (So, it’s not a legitimate desire to go there for some purpose, is what I’m saying.) I think I’d just like to have my morning coffee by the sea. (And it is a very bad idea for me to wait another two hours to have my god damned coffee! LOL) This? This right here? It’s a bit of my TBI in action; lack of impulse control. (As with many of the things associated with either my TBI and my c-PTSD, there are similar sorts of things that everyone may go through from time to time, though usually the magnitude of the challenge is quite different, and they are occasional experiences versus characteristics of every day life.)

Lack of impulse control used to run my life. It no longer does – at least, not full-time. It would be, probably, harmless for me to take the day, go the coast, come home in the evening – hell, it might be a lovely spring adventure, indeed, although I haven’t budgeted for it, or accounted for that use of my time in my planning for the week. I like a nice trip to the coast. It’s just not what I had planned, and amounts to undermining both my self-care, and my ability to get shit done that I would not want to be having to deal with immediately prior to heading down for a long weekend with my Traveling Partner, next weekend. So. No. Just “no”.

It’s bitter-sweet to tell myself “no”. Pretty much always. I’m both really good at it, and have done so many times to my detriment, building a sense of unworthiness and self-directed privation over time while others benefit from my nurturing and generosity, and I also suck at it completely, capitulating to whims that have cost me dearly with no legitimate benefit. Also a bunch of stuff in between. I practice hitting a sweet spot with my self-care, and personal decision-making about my life, that results in feeling supported (by my choices), nurtured (by being able to enjoy who I am), able to grow (through novelty and adventure), able to get to my goals for future me (by being discerning about what I allow from myself, and making skillful use of my resources)… you know, all the adulting things and stuff. It’s a lot of fucking practice. This morning, I admit, I cheated a bit by dropping my ass in a chair, fingers over a keyboard, eyes on a monitor; I likely won’t redirect my attention until I have finished writing. Which means I have bought myself the time required to fully wake up (meaning all cognitive functions are “on”), and do the best adulting I am able to do for myself. 🙂

…I am now awake enough that coffee is most assuredly my priority. I way overslept when I usually have my first cup, and the resulting headache would be only an hour or two away, unless I make some fucking coffee pretty soon… What stopped me earlier? I feel puzzled about it now, but at the time it seemed so much more work than I wanted to do, and throwing on pants and sandals and driving up the road for a cup of coffee definitely seemed easier (isn’t, in fact, any easier at all). If I’d done that, I may or may not have actually stopped for coffee, and would almost certainly be on the road to… somewhere… by now! No telling what the impact would be to my time – or my budget.

Coffee now? That seems the thing. I’ll be right back… Here’s a great bass line while you wait…

…Aaand, I’m back. With coffee. I rediscover that the quality of coffee that generally results from effortless (or near effortless) coffee is reliably less good than coffee I really put my attention toward, with great care. LOL This cup? Drinkable… at best. That’s not going to stop me from drinking it; at this point, it’s medicinal. Funny/not funny. I’ll make a better cup later. When I’m more awake.

Mmmm… yeah. Coffee was definitely a better choice over driving to the coast before I was awake. LOL Here I am, lovely morning ahead of me, work laid out in the studio, most of the housework already handled… I don’t actually want to go anywhere. Not really. This is where I want to be; in the studio, enjoying a chill Sunday, painting – I’ve been looking forward to it all week. 🙂 I found learning to discern between “things I actually want to do, no really” and “momentary whims driven by impulse that seem briefly very interesting” actually a rather difficult process. I still have to really work at it. It’s so easy to react. It’s so easy for impulse to take over. People seem, at least in my social network, personally, to place higher value on spontaneity than on planning, and to be far more interested in tales of whimsy and adventure than of plan, structure, and practice. Our attention spans have grown short with our increased use of devices. It is so easy to shirk the details of what must get done in pursuit of something shiny, and unexpectedly entertaining. The burden of deciding what I value, myself, is on me, though. The choice is my own. The verbs, too, are mine to labor over. The reasons have to be my own, as well, otherwise the will to stay the course is easily sacrificed in a moment of chaos, or whimsy. We become what we practice.

This morning I’ll be practicing the practices of a working artist, following a plan, and living the life I choose, quite willfully. If you need me, I’ll be in my studio…

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee and staring at the text window; this morning words don’t come so easily. My thoughts are focused on painting (and love), even right at this moment, and I am finding it challenging to write. My writing is a helpful practice that tends to keep me centered, and certainly anchors me and provides me with perspective. I’m reluctant to move on without putting words in an order, and clicking ‘Publish’. Interesting side note: I have not yet written the title (usually it is the title that is the first thing, providing me with a notion, or a theme, or a bit of humor).

I found myself exploring thoughts that seemed relevant and suitable for sharing…but as I attempted to devise some titular foothold to begin the thing with, it all sort of unraveled and evaporated, losing any coherence. I’m not frustrated. I’m not even puzzled or disappointed. I am, however, back to staring at an empty text box…so I begin with that. I have the subtle suspicion that this is ‘cheating’… then remember that the rules are my own, and decide that it is not.

What matters most?

What matters most?

(Sometime later…)

My writing was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of my traveling partner. We enjoyed some hang out time over coffee, talking, and listening to music. I don’t really have the vocabulary or poetry to convey how precious the time we spend together is; we share a profound connection that has depth and strength well beyond what I understand how to communicate – or fully appreciate. This morning was chill and comfortable and close, and met a lot of needs for me (and some for him, based on his frank appreciation and gratitude). After we’d finished with our coffees, he headed home to continue his weekend projects, and I sat down to return to my writing and find myself in a very different emotional place, feeling well-loved, warmly regarded, emotionally nurtured, intellectually valued, and eager to continue my creative weekend.  Totally worth taking a break from writing. 🙂

Today is a good day to listen deeply. Today is a good day for loving kindness and emotional intimacy. Today is a good day to appreciate and value love. Today is a good day to treat each other gently, and deliver on the promises we make to love.

On a recent morning heading to work, I had an interesting moment with a fellow human. At the time, it was simple a moment I felt good about, later it became very important. Here’s The Parable of The Small Boy Waiting.

I walked into a crowded Starbucks on my way to work. I just wanted more coffee, and better coffee than the stale jet fuel served up in the break area at work, honestly. Waiting in the line of irritated commuters would be worth it, enough to make the slight detour – seriously, the coffee at work is quite terrible. I ordered my coffee and stood to the side to wait along with many other commuters standing to the side to wait for their better-than-the-swill-at-the-office coffees. At the edge of the throng of adults, mostly devotedly dedicated to quality time with their personal devices, I notice a small boy, waiting in a chair. His arms are folded tightly, his face has a grim, tense, possibly angry expression, he is sitting very still, as if by some unwitnessed force; he looked like he was having a shit day. I felt uncomfortable. I felt distressed. I wanted, somehow, to help. “Not your place.” My brain said. “Not your kid.” My brain said that, too. “You don’t know that there’s really anything at all wrong” my brain observed, and I struggled with myself – was there ‘something to do’ at all? Small boys also have bad days… fuck, life is hard for me sometimes – and I’m mostly pretty grown up…still…I don’t exactly feel ’empowered’ all the time, and I don’t always feel like I really have an edge just from being older…how much harder might life feel some days for a small boy?

He caught me watching him. Eye contact can be a very connected thing. Too late to ignore him without being a dick – so I spoke up, conversationally (I have no children, and don’t speak even a word of fluent ‘parent’, honestly, and interact with children rather as though they are small adults).  “Rough morning?” I said gently. He looked at me speculatively before answering in a low, reluctant voice “everything always sucks”. His tense face took on an angrier look, and he looked away, and down, still holding himself tightly. I look around, spot the utterly ordinary man who appears to be his dad, waiting at the counter with a sister-aged young girl. “Move long” says my brain, “nothing to see here.”  Instead I say to the small boy “That sounds like a lot to endure.” He looks up, curiosity overcoming his tension, and replies “I don’t know what that word means.” I smile at him, “To endure things means to have to deal with more than you think you can, and be able to because you are stronger than you realize.” He considers that thoughtfully for a moment, and sighs. I see a hint that tears may be lurking, waiting to fall, certainly an uncomfortable feeling in a public place. “I know another good word…” He waits, then asks “What is it?” “Mindfulness” I reply with a smile. “What does that mean?” he asks.

How much do I share about mindfulness with a small boy waiting in a Starbucks on a busy morning? What do I have to offer, really, that could help? Anything? My thoughts flip through all my own experiences on this complicated journey…what helped the most? I can only do my best – but he’s human, too, and clearly suffering…isn’t there always time for a kind word? “Mindfulness,” I begin “is taking a deep breath and being right here, right now – just that. It helps you find a moment that doesn’t suck so much, so you can rest, and be okay for when things might suck again.” He looked almost hopeful, hesitant, he glanced over at his dad before asking me “Does that work?” “Well…you can Google it, there’s lots to read about it…and…right now doesn’t really suck, does it? I mean…you’re okay, right now, yeah?” I smiled at him. He smiled back. “Yeah,” he admitted shyly “I’m getting hot chocolate with my Dad.” I smiled, again, and added “I like hot chocolate best when I can take a deep breath and really enjoy it – the taste and smell, and how it feels in my mouth.” The small boy grinned at me “But not on your shirt, though!” We laughed together. His shoulders relaxed and his arms unfolded. He began to swing his feet with the eager energy of childhood. My coffee was ready, and I went on with my day, after wishing him well.

It was just a conversation with a small boy, really. I smiled on the way to the office, because it felt good to be kind to someone having a difficult time. As I said…it mattered later.

Later eventually came, unexpectedly. I was at my desk at the time. Working. The phone rang – my cell phone. That’s odd during the work day, and odder still it was an out-of-state number that was not a toll-free number of some kind, and wasn’t a number my phone recognized. I answered the phone, and hearing the voice on the other end, my heart dropped. Utterly unexpectedly, without warning, my violent first husband phoned me. My alarms bells went off, my PTSD flared up, I sat trembling, hands sweating, barely able to speak – on the edge of panic. Why was he calling me? (Doesn’t matter.) How did he get this number? (Doesn’t matter.) Is he here? (Highly unlikely.) Does he know where I am? (Come on, now, how hard is that in the digital age? You moved – it’s not witness protection.) I fought down my terror, and kept the call short, polite, and ensured that I was firm and clear about my boundary, specifically stating that I do not want any contact with him. The call ended. The tears began. I shook for some time, helplessly taken over by my fears, and my symptoms.

I remembered the small boy, waiting. “You’re okay, right now, though, right?” I asked myself. I took a breath. I alerted my traveling partner of the distressing call – it felt safer to share, and to know that someone who loves me was aware I was in distress, and potentially ‘at risk’. I posted an observation that I had received a call from my ex to Facebook; the out pouring of support from friends who never met my ex, as well as the support and concern, of those who had, lifted me up and reassured me that I was not alone. I took a couple deep breaths, and showed myself compassion; the symptoms of my PTSD, themselves, are not pleasant to endure…but I am able to endure them. I’m stronger than I realize. More than once, I smile thinking about my conversation with the small boy…and how amazing life’s coincidences can be, when I slow down to experience them.

I am indeed okay right now. I was okay after I got home, no tantrum driven by panic, no weird behavior driven by fear – I mean, other than yes, actually checking under the bed and in my closets ‘for monsters’. My sleep was a bit disturbed, and falling asleep was harder; these are common experiences when my PTSD is triggered. By morning, though, I woke feeling myself. This morning, too…and yesterday’s busy workday was productive and in no way disrupted by the experience of the phone call the day before. This is all progress.

There are going to be days that are hard. There are going to be days when I come face to face with my fears, or feel the weight of my baggage more than others. I handle it better these days…but some day there may be time when I don’t handle things so well, or so easily. Kindness really matters. It matters when it is our friends, it matters from strangers. I keep practicing.

I will, thanks. :-)

I will, thanks. 🙂

I woke around 2:30 am, drenching in cold sweat, feeling a vague sense of panic, breathless, heart pounding…and anxious. I tossed and turned for some moments until I was awake enough to realize I was struggling with, rather than responding to, my feelings.

"Anxiety"  10" x 14" - and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

By the time an hour had passed by it was clear that self-compassion, reassurance, and a little meditation were not sufficient to put this particular anxious moment to rest. I got up for a few minutes and did some yoga (specifically a sequence of postures that are described as ‘calming’). I took a Benadryl (over-the-counter, fairly safe, and one of the oldest pharmaceutical anxiolytics). I got comfortable in bed, with some soft dim light, and read something light and entertaining for a few minutes. I got back to sleep.

I woke this morning, having slept in until past 7 am, anxious. Great. It’s going to be that holiday weekend, is it? I remind myself of two things as I head for my coffee: I overslept my usual timing on my thyroid medication, that can sometimes make me feel anxious, and anxiety is a liar.

  • My anxiety tells me ‘something is very wrong’. There isn’t anything actually wrong, based on observation of my environment and circumstances right now.
  • My anxiety tells me I have clearly done something terrible to feel this way. This is more a reflection of learned responses; as an anxious child, my parents reinforced the idea that anxiety is an indicator of unstated guilt. (Anxiety may or may not be associated with feeling guilty – it is a separate emotion, and correlation would not prove causation.)
  • My anxiety tells me I am ‘not good enough’ and backs that up with delusional ‘examples’ that ‘prove it’. (Taking a look at each offered example from another perspective derails the seeming factual nature of those arguments – but the anxiety exists; it is its own thing, requiring no ‘proof’, and refuting an example successfully doesn’t end the anxiety, it feeds it with attention.)
  • My anxiety reminds me that ‘time is running out’ – which, while true, is more about playing on a basic understanding of ‘how things work’ to terrorize me from within; what I do with my time is what sets the pace of my experience, not the sweeping second-hand on a clock.
  • My anxiety is a very physical experience that dissipates quickly if it can’t get a solid emotional foothold and a steady infusion of new chemistry; it will whisper anything it has to into my vulnerable consciousness to achieve emotional domination. Anxiety is a bad ass – but not to be counted on for truths.
  • My anxiety finds ways to put doubt, insecurity, and fear in my path; if I am consumed by those I stop questioning the anxiety and build it a home, instead.

Sometimes a bit of anxiety may be a healthy indicator that I am stepping outside my comfort zone in a positive way – that’s not what this morning is about. I am nauseated, and my body is enduring physical sensations I associate with imminent threats, terror, impending physical attack, terrible consequences, and future preventable loss followed by the dismay of others on a ‘how could you??’ level. It isn’t real. How am I so sure it isn’t real, when it feels so real? Because both thoughts and emotion lack substance until we give them substance. Emotions are physical experiences that manifest themselves both in physical and cognitive ways. Feelings. I feel. However, I am also able to make some sense of reality (in whatever limited way is available to me as a human primate with a complete set of common place senses and faculties) – and there is nothing in my environment that would cause this experience.

I am so human. Without question there are circumstances and experiences in my adult life that might cause some moment of mild anxiety…but this is not that. This experience qualifies as ‘disordered’, if for no other reason because it is very clearly and demonstrably not based in my real experience of now. Still, the small things that tend to drive small anxiety hop right into the ring with the Anxiety-with-a-capital-A of the morning; there is a chance that putting those to rest one by one may ease the Anxiety, but it isn’t a given, and is as likely to make things much worse if I become frantic or driven over it, by becoming invested in the outcome.

I am drenched in sweat. The apartment is a comfortable 72 degrees, and I am not exerting myself. Hormones? Still? Maybe – or just the anxiety, over coffee. Oh hell yes I am still having my morning coffee – with caffeine – in spite of the anxiety. Basic self-care demands it; the headache I’d be having later today if I don’t have my morning coffee would only put me at risk of being less able to continue to work through the anxiety if it lingers.

I have PTSD, and anxiety is part of my experience sometimes. I have a brain injury that results in executive function impairments – one of which is that I lack skill at managing strong emotions; I tend to put it all right out there, and find it difficult to ‘wrap things up’ in a timely way, sometimes remaining immersed in an emotional experience that is long behind me. These two things do not play nicely together. I write those simple words and tears start falling (I still find being quite so broken a sad thing, I mean, fuck – I’m 52 and still dealing with this bullshit!) – quite possibly the healthiest thing I could do for me right now are these honest tears – the science suggests that this will bring my cortisol level down more rapidly than most things I could do right now. Still sucks. I feel like a big cry baby (yeah, I hear the beratement and derision there, and recognize my demons on the war path, attacking me when I am vulnerable – it’s not helpful to treat myself callously right now).

I don’t like writing about anxiety…but if I were to omit this experience from my writing in a willful way, then I would also be a liar, leaving you thinking that somehow I had magically cured my anxiety issues with some sitting still, a few good books, and the occasional walk in the sunshine. It isn’t that easy. If it were, I wouldn’t be 52 and crying over my coffee because I am just that anxious on a lovely summer morning, utterly without cause. Writing about it, in a practical way, without ruminating over the details that my Anxiety would like to direct my focus to, seems helpful this morning; I am (after 1000 words or so) considerably less anxious now. Experience tells me it may surface again a few times over the course of the day or weekend, ready to become a weapon of mass distraction in some future interaction; today I will continue to take care of me.

Huh – there it is again. Is it my commitment to taking care of me this weekend that is actually causing the anxiety? Just now, as I considered taking yet another day focused completely on taking the best care of me, my anxiety shot through the roof… interesting. Am I still harboring feelings of guilt over putting me at the top of my agenda day-to-day? It’s a question worth considering some time.

Few things are more delightful than a leisurely morning over coffee with someone I love dearly.

Few things are more delightful than a leisurely morning over coffee with someone I love dearly.

…It is hours later now, about 2 and half hours actually. My writing was interrupted by the door bell. I checked through the peephole expecting someone canvasing the neighborhood for sales or prophet, and to my great delight my traveling partner was on the other side! We shared a leisurely morning coffee, catching up on small things, celebrating life, love, and enjoying each other’s company greatly. His is that rare presence that nearly always eases my anxiety, regardless of circumstances. I find myself on the other side of the anxiety, feeling comforted, safe, and assured that ‘all is well’. Good practices, trusting that the anxiety will pass, being frank about its appearance in my experience, and refraining from investing in holding on to it all help greatly – the addition of a pleasant intimate connection with another human being finished it off.

It’s a promising start to the day. I put on music, make a second coffee, and consider this pleasant moment. What could be worth more time, study, investment, or practice than Love and loving? 🙂