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I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. 🙂 Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. 🙂 Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.

Well, damn. I think I may be coming down with a head cold. No idea where or when the virus snuck into my sinuses, but I noticed last night… the tell-tale sniffle, a handful of big sneezes that took me by surprise after supper, a certain ache-y ennui and lack of fucks to give… I went to bed a bit early, figuring just maybe I could be totally wrong about it. I slept deeply, and woke reluctantly. My enthusiasm for the day increased mildly when I remember the inauguration, having hoped to watch a bit of it on the television (C-SPAN has to be good for something…). It didn’t last.

My coffee tasted off, and I didn’t much care. Soup for lunch was fine, and I also didn’t much care. I enjoyed a break with my Traveling Partner, which was very nice. I’m hanging in there, working my shift, even now, and expect to make it to the end of the day. Good enough. Head colds suck. I’m annoyed that after almost a year of pretty good health (other than chronic pain, I’m in acceptable health, I think) I am coming down with a head cold “right on schedule” – I was sick last year around this time, too. It’s not even a big deal – just a common cold. The way I’m bitching one might think I am at death’s door, or at least on a gurney somewhere. Nope. Working. Sitting at my desk. Drinking water. Taking OTC cold remedies. Dealing with it.

…I’m grateful it isn’t worse. 🙂

I enjoyed a lovely trail walk on Monday. I try distracting myself from my cold by pleasant recollections of my walk. I find myself yearning to put another mile on my boots out on those forest trails, even today, even with this cold. Would I feel better? Worse? Am I actually up to it? I think it over… the stuffy head and headache, the ache-y joints, suggest not. LOL Maybe just a long hot shower and an early night? I’ve lost my eagerness to proceed. lol Bleh.

Okay, maybe not right now… but I definitely need to begin again…

No, seriously, today I’ve got this headache… It’s probably a result of the poor air quality right now. I’ve had plenty of water, and my usual amount of coffee. I slept well. My posture and balance seem pretty ordinary. I’ve gotten some exercise this morning. I feel fairly confident that I’ve ticked all the appropriate everyday self-care boxes. I still have this headache, and the change I can’t control, which is the “weather”, seems the likely culprit as a result. It’s “fire season”… I guess that’s a thing now. Winter, spring, summer, fire, fall, and back to winter. :-\

…Another sip of water. Another work task. I nibble away at my writing between things. It’s not my best. I’m struggling with this headache, and the effort has to be enough.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and exist with this headache. It will pass, I remind myself. That’s enough for now.

 

The end of a work day. “Fire season” is upon us, on the west coast (and, um, why is that a thing, ffs?). The sky is a sick orange, has been for a couple days, now. The other-worldly impression already seems to extend itself in my sense of scale, such that it feels, subjectively, like… normal. It isn’t. Not at all.

…There’s quite a lot in life that seems to work that way; the grotesquely abnormal, over time, becoming almost routine, and definitely expected… I try not to allow myself to forget bluer skies.

I take a breath. Today I’m exceedingly grateful for air. Right now it’s tainted with the smell of smoke, and particles of ash that continue to fall from the summer’s wildfires. My throat is sore, and my voice is hoarse, but I feel safe at home, so far. I embrace the gratitude, and let go of the complaints. I’ve got much to be grateful for…

…And I’ve got time to begin again.

I’m drinking cold fizzy water. My work day is over. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, making something specific of nothing-much components – tools and knowledge make a lot of things possible. I reflect on small irritants, and things for which I am grateful, too. Sometimes the irritating things in life feel damn near inescapable. I often find that taking time to savor the things in life I cherish, and to reflect gratefully on the many many things in life that don’t irritate me, is time well-spent and a helpful anodyne to the plentiful aggravations life may throw my way.

Perspective matters.

Yesterday began well. A lovely day.

One very cool thing about perspective is that it can change. It can be willfully, deliberately, altered – by choice, if you’ve a will to choose to do so.

A strange haze began to develop, later in the morning… or was it just a trick of the light?

It’s tempting to see perspective as a single point, just one way of looking at something, or one position from which to consider things. Is it, though?

There’s definitely a haze, later in the day, and a high wind storm warning to go with it.

There’s often more than one “right answer”, more than one solution to a problem challenge, more than one way that “things go together”. On and off I keep contemplating perspective, and how best to make use of it to understand the country I live in, my own circumstances, or the strange times I find myself in. We’ve only got this one planet, and these all-too-brief mortal lives…

The otherworldly result of smoke from distant fires.

…somewhere, communities and forests and fields are burning. Fire season. Cities, too, for other reasons. It’s a very good time to contemplate perspective – and to broaden it. There’s more to understand than I can even grasp. I have another drink of water. I’m grateful for cold clean drinking water. I’m grateful for this place I call “home”. Even that sick strange orange sky – I’m grateful to be able to see the sky, and to breath the air. I read some of the news. It’s bad in some places. I put it down – it’s not new news, just words about things I’ve read before.

What are you “for”? What are you “against”? Why do you feel that way? What have you done to test your assumptions? (I’m betting you’ve made more than a few assumptions, without testing them; it’s very human.) Would you refuse to test drive a change of perspective if you knew doing so might change your thinking? What does your answer tell you about the person in the mirror?

Too many questions, and my water bottle is empty. The sky is still a crazy sort of orange that fascinates and alarms me. One way or another, we’ve got to begin again.