Archives for posts with tag: creating order from chaos

Well, I must say, I’m already a bit “over” the continuous 24/7, all-channels, all-topics, doorbell-to-deck, coverage of COVID-19, pandemic or not. Seriously. There still remains so much else to also observe, discuss, and yes, enjoy. Having said that, I am staying home, working from home on work days, and doing only those things that can be done in that context. I’m fortunate to enjoy a comfortably merry, loving, and emotionally connected relationship (this partnership certainly reduces the potential loneliness of “social distancing”). I am reaching out to friends over text message (I gave up most social media some while ago, and kept only Instagram). Friends I haven’t heard from in a while are regularly surprising me with text messages, too. It’s fine. Limiting, but generally not a big deal.

I went to the grocery store, yesterday. The aisle that usually has paper products such as facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels looks like an old photo of soviet era shortages in iron curtain countries. The parking lot of the grocery store was nearly full, but the store was weirdly empty; people who do go out seem to be doing so alone. The streets are quiet. No “traffic”, even during “rush hour”, which no longer seems to exist (here). The trip to the store felt almost exciting – an “outing”! I got the staples I needed, stayed well back from the cashier as I paid, used hand sanitizer frequently, and did not converse with passers-by. Mostly fairly typical for me, except the additional distance, and the hand sanitizer.

I filled the gas tank of the car, while I was out, and chuckled to myself about “how long will this tank last?” knowing I am not going out much. Then I felt a bit of anxiety and a re-thinking on that; how long will gas stations be able to stay open, and resupplied? I took a breath, and exhaled with care. It’s not helpful to borrow panic from future such concerns, presently. I think about the panic-buying of toilet paper, and the impact on people who did not succumb to panic in that moment, who now struggle just to buy what they actually do need, while others sit on vast hoards of toilet paper that will likely last them into next year. I frown, to myself, aware that there is already identifiable profiteering going on, for products such as toilet paper, on eBay. We could do better, as a society, and as human beings.

…So… Do better.

It’s a complicated time. I am grateful for, and appreciative of, those that are still on the job, still interacting with the public, still providing critical services. I am also, admittedly, harshly critical of those businesses not willing to maximize the safety net for their employees, preferring to maximize profit instead. It’s also an election year; the posturing, the spin, and the insider trading are galling in times like this. I’m grateful for honest news, where it exists, and so glad that comedy continues. Art. Science. Music. These things are still real, still going on. Creators still create. The world continues to turn.

…I think about spending time in the studio, myself…

I read, this morning, that ISPs and streaming service providers are beginning to make decisions to limit bandwidth. I cynically wonder how they will turn that to their profit when the pandemic wanes? I hit my vape. I sip my coffee. I type some words and plan the day ahead. Saturday on a (for me) long weekend. The vernal equinox, something I generally celebrate “out loud”, passed by sort of without notice this year. Fairly certain I never mentioned it, myself. I commit to enjoying the time I am sharing with my Traveling Partner, and doing what I can to make that time merry, and even productive. Bills get paid, and great care given to the budget; there are still a lot of unknowns, for all of us. It is what it is.

Today, my project is both a bit of work, and a bit of entertainment – a lot of bother; I’ll be setting the aquascaping of my aquarium right, after living with the chaotic, rather haphazard and sloppy outcome of moving the tank here, almost 3 years ago.

The day the tank arrived at the new place. This shot was taken before the water even had time to completely clear up.

The tl;dr is that the moving team that moved the tank was at the end of their work day when they finally arrived at my place with my tank. They had one more job yet to go to, and were feeling rushed… so… they rushed the work. The large river rocks that decorate my tank were not placed with care, nor were the paperweights that function as the ornaments. The plants were sort of just dropped in, without being correctly anchored at all, and where they were anchored, they were not where I wanted them. (I’d have to re-do all of it, myself, and I knew it at the time.) I settled for “good enough, now just go, please” and went on with things, expecting to have plenty of time for restoring order to that bit of chaos… once I finished getting moved in and settled.

Life happens, and change happens, and within a couple weeks of moving in, my Traveling Partner relocated for work. Then I began an almost weekly “commute” back and forth to see him each weekend (almost), which meant my only leisure time for big projects was on weekends that I did not travel (and often those were selected based on exhaustion, or illness), and in the evenings (when I could generally count on being “too tired”). The chaos got worse, and after a prolonged power outage, most of the fish died. The tank sat quietly, being little more than an aquatic garden of sorts. Over time, after the last fish finally died, I began to ignore it, and after awhile, even became rather embarrassed by it.

Yeah, it got this bad. Inadequate filtration. Lack of routine maintenance. Heater failed.

After my Traveling Partner moved back in with me last year, I started considering taking it down to reclaim the space for something else… Then, I spotted something unexpected. One solitary surviving resident.

Shy clown pleco spotted hiding behind a glass paperweight. One of my original fish, purchased in 2013.

Well, that certainly changed things for me. I got excited about my “universe in a box” all over again (and a bit peeved at myself for being such a poor care-provider). I cleaned the tank. I upgraded the filter, the heater, and the lighting. I began restocking. Today it is a vibrant little planted freshwater community, populated by shrimp, tetras, snails, a betta, and of course, my wee clown pleco, now almost 7 years old.

This morning, after so much work (over the past couple weeks), with much still left to do. 🙂

It still needs some pruning, some tidying up, and I’ve certainly got the time at home this weekend to tackle the aquascaping more seriously. So. With some trepidation, I think I shall. Part of the plan, and the timing, and the “order of operations” is also to do with moving the tank to the other side of the fireplace to make better use of the space. (And, finally, there won’t be two light switches in every photo of the tank!) The needs are different for two people living here, than for one. 🙂 So much work. So much fun. So much love. Plenty to challenge me, and stave off any potential for boredom.

My perspective on my circumstances changes when I understand how other lives may be affected by my choices. (Pictured: a much happier, still shy, clown pleco.)

This is my life in the time of pandemic. It’s not perfect. There are challenges. There are opportunities. There is “room to grow”. There is this strange moment in my lifetime that holds so much potential to become “that time when we all reconnected”, and I hope to take advantage of it. What about you? What will you do with your time at home? How will you deepen your relationships? Where are your opportunities to grow as a person? Will you make use of the time well and wisely… or… not?

It is another time to begin again. 🙂 (However bad things may become, I know I can begin again.)

I woke early. Headache? Sure, fine, why not…? Coffee? It’s good. Brain? Foggy.

I put on headphones and queue up some music. I breathe. Exhale. Relax, letting my shoulders drop. I hadn’t noticed they were stiff, tense, and up around my ears. I feel my jaw unclench. Wicked little headache. New one? I’m not certain. I breathe. Listen to the music. Exhale. Relax. I hold my attention on my breath, observing my physical experience. Toes gripping the pedestal of this office chair. I place my feet on the floor, and allow them to relax. Still breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breathing. In. Out. Feeling the music fill my consciousness. Track changes allow me, momentarily, to hear other sounds of morning: cars passing outside, the heat coming on, the muffled sound of my own breath from the other side of the headphones. Breathing in. Exhaling. Relaxing, again. My breathing is relaxed and even, and in spite of feeling pretty foggy (I woke way too early), and this headache (which I could frankly do without), I feel pretty okay this morning. A good Monday so far, even if I did wake up at 3:20 a.m.

I sip my coffee, and think about holiday cards, old friends, and the double-edged razor-blade of social media; so easy to stay in touch, so much general ill-effect to take advantage of that technology. Another breath. Another exhalation. Another moment to let go of assumptions, and expectations, and the outrage machinery of modern media. I’m content with this cup of coffee, and this Opiuo track.

Weird weekend. It was full of peculiar little ups and downs, and although there were some moments I easily could have done without, I nonetheless recall the weekend as a good one. I got much done, and my studio is sufficiently tidy to be suitable guest space in a pinch, which feels almost strange after a year of clutter. I smile, appreciating my Traveling Partner’s hints and suggestions, falling short of nagging, but persistent as reminders that I, myself, wanted to create order from the chaos that developed over the year, and during the prior year when I traveled so much, myself. I look around feeling content and satisfied. I eye the next couple of tasks. There are several. Easier to do them, now, though – more room to work. 🙂

I smile recalling my Traveling Partner enjoying the squirrels and chipmunks with me, this weekend. Beautiful memories. Will I always recall these moments? I savor it for some minutes, recalling in detail our shared delight in the antics of the wee chipmunks, and the plumpness of some of the squirrel “regulars”.

With my Traveling Partner’s help, and largely due to his weekday efforts, the house looks lovely. Tidy, comfortable, well-organized; it’s easy to feel good here. I sit for a minute, sipping my coffee and feeling wholly grateful that I am not having to handle all the housekeeping and chores alone. I smile quietly, similarly grateful for a partnership that supports my overall wellness, and even to the point of gently insisting I don’t just sit around, however much I really really really just want to rest, quietly, in a favorite comfortable spot, watching squirrels, or videos. lol It’s sometimes super annoying to hear the hint to get up and move around some – doesn’t matter whether it comes from my phone or my partner, really, but taking the hint and fighting the desire to just sit is likely to be a huge positive for my longevity and health later in life. So… I fuss a bit, then get up anyway. By the end of an evening, I’m just so tired, and often in so much pain… but each opportunity to get up, move around, and do some small thing before sitting down again, is an action toward a longer, healthier life. 🙂 I get up, get a glass of water, or pick out my work clothes, or carry something from where it is to where it more appropriately should be. I get up, do the dishes, or take out the trash, or pick something up, or tidy something else. I get up, go to the garage for a case of fizzy water, or a roll of paper towels. I get up, make a cup of tea, “just stretch my legs”, or use the restroom. Fighting the desire to “really relax” can be hard; a lifetime of stress whispers in my ear that this is the “one path” to finally getting past all that to some imaginary experience in which there is no stress, no pain, no fatigue…

…I sigh aloud in the quiet room. There’s no such thing as the perfect utopian experience of ease; even that takes verbs. Action. Effort. I sip my coffee. I notice the time. Meditation, yoga, a shower… waking up too early makes for a leisurely morning of good self-care. Trade-offs. Regardless, there are nearly always verbs involved, effort, will, action, getting down the path to find that life was well-lived, and characterized by contentment, and an experience of ease and joy. Slow things down, sure – life can definitely be way to busy – but stopping altogether? Maybe not the best idea, however fatigued I may feel. lol

I’m still groggy this morning. My coffee helped little. I find myself looking forward to the cold morning air wrapping me in refreshment as I head to the office. Random thoughts on a Monday crowd my consciousness. I smile. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’d been growing progressively more irked with myself over my lack of motivation in the evenings, after long, busy, cognitively complex work days dense with new information. By the time I got home each evening this week I just… couldn’t. Not even. Not at all. So… I didn’t. Mostly.

Last night I happened to arrive home and sit down at the computer to alert my Traveling Partner I was safely home for the evening, feeling a little low for no reason I could pinpoint. The phone rang unexpectedly – my partner calling me, spontaneous, out of the blue, no agenda; he was on his lunch break from work. It was good to hear his voice, and I felt considerably “lifted up” by it.

The called ended just as a recently-discovered-favorite DJ began a live set on Facebook. Yay!! I said a silent thank you for Chromecast technology as I cast it to the stereo. The hour passed so quickly, and with so much energy! I spent that hour dancing, and chatting with friends who had noticed the share on Facebook and also checked him out. Even my sister – which surprised me, and made me smile so hard my face hurt. It felt connected, shared, and it was fun.

I must have really needed some wholesome shared fun with friends. I mean, like, a lot. 😀 I’m still smiling.

When the live stream ended, my energy didn’t. With a smile and no sense of fatigue I tackled a bunch of small shit from my to do list that had been silently mocking me. (Take that, housework!!) I went to bed still feeling mildly burdened by “all the shit I’ve got to get done before I head out for the weekend” and a little anxious about it.

I woke this morning still carrying that around with me, and annoyed by swollen eyes and stuffy sinuses (hoping, hoping, hoping that I do not wake up actually ill tomorrow – I’ll be so fucking pissed off if I do). I sat down with my coffee, and a willingness to begin again, and decided to take on my anxiety-driving concern head-on; too much to do? Let’s see about that, I thought to myself, and opened my task list.

I made a short list of things my Traveling Partner asked me to bring down for him. I made a short list of the things I wanted to get done, because I don’t want to come home to having to do them. Neither list was actually all that bothersome. Totally doable to complete them in an evening. Is all this stress really to do with work? Could be; there’s a lot going on, and more than typical performance pressure. I take a deep breath and let it all go, queue up some music (the track linked above, actually), and sip my coffee feeling less pressure, less anxiety, and a reduced sense of urgency. I open up my blog, and start writing. Much better.

Perfection? Nah. Just perspective. It matters. Do I have a lot to get done tonight? Not as much as it felt like in the abstract. I just had to take a step back, get it on paper, and consider it differently, and (for me) in a more organized way. It’s where the work-related anxiety comes from too; I work in a distraction-rich environment that results in constant interruptions of work processes that benefit from not being interrupted. lol I need to take more breaks – that don’t become interruptions of their own, by taking those breaks as moments of quiet, without actually pumping even more information into my brain (which actually needs a proper break). I commit to treating myself better in the office, and make a second coffee. 🙂

It’s already time to begin again…

The morning is gentle on my waking consciousness. I’m glad of that. The headache pounding away at my forebrain when I woke has dissipated. I’m glad of that as well. I notice, at the same time I notice my half-finished coffee has fully gone cold, I never opened the blinds (or the window) here in the studio when I opened up the windows to let in the fresh morning breezes. It strikes me as odd, until I also notice my latent noise sensitivity is quite a presence, in fact, and recognize that I had simply not opened the window, to dull the sound of the morning commuter traffic, which I definitely don’t care to hear.

Who am I today? Am I headache-y? Am I well-rested and merry? Am I irritable? I’m not actually certain. I may be all of those things at some point today. Right now, in spite of a leisurely shower, a good yoga sequence, and the fresh forested breezes on a summer morning, I remain rather groggy, somewhat irritable, and annoyed by my stuffy sinuses (which may have been the cause of the headache I’d awakened with). The more I focus on this experience, the more it intensifies, and the more irritable I become. Interesting. Sometimes mindfulness brings uncomfortable experiences into sharper focus.

I breathe. Relax. Pull my posture more comfortably erect as I sit at my desk. My eyes close, and without giving it further thought, my hands rest, quite still, on the edge of my keyboard. I breathe. Relax. My eyes closed. Feeling this space, this moment. My shoulders sink down until they are no longer crammed up against my damned ears. The sound of the traffic blends with my tinnitus. I breathe. Relax. Time passes.

Some time later, some 30 or so minutes, actually, my eyes open. I’m smiling. I needed that moment, I suppose. Just some meditation time, right where I sat, no further fuss or bother. Nothing to disturb me. I feel better than I did. More comfortably aware of the commonplace discomforts that are a thing. I am a mortal creature. This fragile vessel is not always an entirely comfortable thing. lol

The house is nicely cool now. It is sometime past day break. I still have time to water the container garden, do the dishes, make my bed – all the things I like to come home to at the end of the work day. It’s just me, right? So… I gotta do the things. 🙂 That’s pretty much how adulthood works generally; if I want a result, I must do the things. Shopping around for other human beings to do the things on my behalf isn’t nearly as efficient. Partnerships are not a form of indentured servitude, or long-term service, and I’d far rather count on mine for shared experiences I truly cannot have solo in life… sex, shared laughter, intimacy, exchanges of touch and emotion… all stuff I really love, too. How nice to share it! Not to imply that reciprocity with the housekeeping and whatnot isn’t valued – in my relationships it is both valued and required. Everybody eats? Drinks water, coffee, tea, whatever? Everybody showers? Sits on the furniture? Then everyone works to keep the place nice. It’s sort of obvious and non-negotiable. 😀

It’s still early. A good time to begin on the housekeeping. A good time to begin again, living and being, and becoming the person I most want to be.