Archives for posts with tag: going coastal

Note: this is a long one (>1500 words), figured you might want to know that before you get started. LOL

I’m on the coast with my camera for a couple days solo. I definitely need this sort of break from the day-to-day relatively frequently – one of my most easily identified regrets in life as an adult is that I waited so long to begin making a point to take this time for myself. I’m fortunate that my Traveling Partner recognizes the need, too, and supports me taking care of myself. The change in my medications has been a good thing, generally, but it also seemed to have accelerated my need to “take a couple days” to pause and reflect deeply on my experience, and to indulge in some time spent alone with my thoughts.

My timing is a bit awkward for this getaway; it’s the weekend before Giftmas. My Traveling Partner’s planned work while I am away was almost immediately derailed by a fulfillment error in a part shipped for his CNC machine; it’s the wrong part, which stalls the build entirely while he waits for that to be replaced. Fuck. Furthering his frustration, a recently added (and carefully measured & placed) outlet turns out to be in a less than ideal location (even after taking tremendous care with measuring) and has to be moved. The end result? Well, I potentially should have planned ahead for a couple days after the fucking holidays, if nothing else. …But…I really was seriously struggling to get acclimated to the new medications (and change in timing of existing medications), and I was feeling very short-tempered and cross with… just every-damned-thing, honestly, and wanted to be well away from people in general. So… good timing? Poor timing? Hard to be certain.

I visited some interesting places. The gulls at Boiler Bay were happy to pose for me.

I am certain my partner misses me. I feel very loved. His attentiveness at a time when we both expected minimal contact with each other for reasons isn’t unwelcome – and it forces me to explicitly practice reasonable boundary setting with the one human being in my life with whom I most definitely struggle to do so; my partner. He can’t see what I’m up to when I’m away, so it’s entirely on me to choose to take a look at a message, or to set my “do not disturb” setting on my phone, or set expectations that I am – or am not – available to chat. That’s not even unexpected or unreasonable; it’s part of skillful adulting. Just happens that some of the emotional debris of my trauma history results in some fairly poor boundary-setting with those closest to me, and it’s something I need to practice. Kind of a lot.

Here’s one way this matters, as an example. I won’t text while I’m driving (it’s very dangerous), so if he messages me while I’m in motion, I often find myself parking the car to respond without even checking in with myself whether the conversation even needs to happen in real-time (most often it does not, and frankly when it does he calls me so we can just talk hands-free). It can add a crazy amount of “travel time” to a short errand if I fail to communicate that I’m driving and he’s not aware that I am; he will just go on having a conversation with me that feels reasonable to him, while I seek out a parking spot every couple minutes like I’m lost or something. LOL I even know this is neither necessary nor practical; it’s something I need to work on. Just one example of why the expectation and boundary setting can matter so much. There are for sure others.

…I’m working on it…

When I am reading, writing, painting – all of which require focus – I sometimes get exceedingly frustrated with interruptions. Same when I’m “at work”, at home. Interruptions wreck my focus. This is not “a me thing”, it’s true for a lot of people (including my partner, when he’s reading, or doing complex calculations, or taking measurements). Interruptions break focus. Well… who “owns” that? I think if a clear boundary and clear expectations have been set, the person doing the interrupting owns that shit, and it’s pretty rude (if there’s no actual emergency). More often than not, though, I find that I’m the one who has erred in some way, by failing to ensure that I have set a clear expectation that I’m not available, along with a reasonable explicit boundary established with regard to interruptions of specific sorts of things. It’s for sure not reasonable to be irked with someone who did not know I was engaged in focused work, or needing to be left alone awhile, if they interrupt me unaware of those details.

In more succinct terms, if I don’t silence my ringer it’s not fair to be annoyed with a person who calls me at a bad time; I had another option that would have preserved my focus!

My earliest beach walk began at “first light”.

Yesterday, in the morning, I left for the coast before dawn. I arrived far earlier than “early check-in” for my hotel room (because the prior night’s guest hadn’t even checked-out yet). I spent the morning walking beaches and taking pictures, and in between I drank coffee while warming up in my car. Chilly morning. I drank 3x as much coffee as I generally do, and I expected I’d most likely messed up my sleep, later, but… nope. I checked into my room before 1 p.m., and managed to crash twice for longish naps, and then still went to bed early (like, for real early – around 7:30 p.m.). I slept deeply, waking around 3 a.m. to pee and immediately went back to sleep.

I made a point of snapping a picture of the holiday lights on the restaurant near the hotel during the wee hours. (It’s not a great picture; I was half asleep and never put on my glasses!)

I woke feeling quite rested, around 7 a.m. or a little after, around the time my Traveling Partner woke and pinged me a greeting. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised by how much I slept if I had felt that I was exhausted, or had felt deeply fatigued. Lacking those sensations, it caught me a bit by surprise to sleep so much. Still… it’s my time, my hotel room, I guess I can do what I like (within reason), including sleep the day away, which I definitely feel like I did, although my fitness tracker logged almost 7 miles of walking before noon. LOL

It’s been exceedingly pleasant (even luxurious) to have so little contact with other people for a couple days. The loudest sound in this hotel room is my fingers on this mechanical keyboard. (My tinnitus is infernally loud, too, but no one else would ever hear that.) The hotel staff go about their business. We don’t exchange words, just smiles; I’ve come here before and they are very respectful (and friendly if approached). I’ve managed to enjoy this trip to the coast without conversation beyond “can you fill it with regular please” or “16 oz Americano, please”. Yesterday was sunny. Today is gray and overcast. I spent yesterday sleeping (and walking and taking pictures). I’ve spent today meditating and writing (and walking and taking pictures). Time well spent all around, and mission mostly accomplished.

…I miss “home” (already), and take a few minutes to reflect with immense gratitude that I experience that feeling when I am away from the house I now live in. It’s already very much “home” – and filled with love, and memories of love, and the presence of this other human being who is so incredibly dear to me. I feel my heart fill up with my affection for my partner and spill over as “happy tears”. I am struck by how easily even the thought of this human being I love so deeply can move me with just the recollection of the love we share. That’s powerful. I miss him greatly any time we are apart – even when we are apart specifically because I just need to be alone for a while. It’s part of who I am. I am grateful that I’ve learned how to meet that need, and grateful to have a partner who “gets it”. I chuckle when I consider how often I do return home earlier than I had planned to, when I have gone, simply because I am so eager to be in the good company of my partner again. How very human. 🙂

Same location, different visit.

I watch the tides rise and fall on each of these trips to the coast. I am amazed by how much the view changes with each visit. The seasons change. The sunrise and sunset changes. The hour of the day for the high or low tide varies. The weather, too. Each detail paints the picture anew. I sip my now-cold coffee and think about that. So many variables. So many small details. I keep expecting to become bored with a single view or perspective. It hasn’t happened yet. I return to some locations with every visit just to see the view with “new eyes” on a different day. There’s something here worth understanding more deeply. I make a note on the notepad I’ve kept with me on this trip, and let my thoughts wander on.

I reflect awhile on the things that have held me back in life. Some of these were pure circumstance, others clearly my own doing or decision-making, few of them were the sort of non-negotiables that were unavoidable or immutable. I’ve had an enormous part to play in where I’ve landed in life. When I’ve chosen wisely, I’ve done well. When I’ve chosen poorly, I’ve often paid the price in consequences. This seems reasonable and “proper”, but when I reflect with care, deeply and honestly, and quite thoroughly, there have also been situations in which my good fortune “over-compensated” for my poor decision-making, and I’ve found my life improved thereby, anyway. Other times, seemingly good decision-making and actions that could be viewed as necessary, appropriate, or “right”, nonetheless resulted in… consequences of a wholly problematic sort. I have had an “enormous part to play” in where I’ve landed in life…but it’s also been a matter of “luck” more often than I can count, and some cases it’s been the help of friends or associates, or… just a coincidence that I’ve done as well as I have. Sometimes I’ve found myself standing in some unexpected moment in life struck by how unprepared I am to be there. Other times, extraordinary happenstance still manages to feel quite… ordinary. It’s hard to know in the moment which events are truly significant and meaningful, and which are simply future memories. Sometimes, when I’ve thought I was being “held back”, the passage of time has revealed how fortunate I really was to follow the path I did. Perspective has proven its worth more than once.

…My mind wanders on…

When I sat down with my notes this morning, I had some specific things I wanted to consider. I walked the beach with my camera and my little notepad, thinking, walking, pausing now and then for a tidepool, a bird, or an interesting rock. I don’t know that I “got anywhere” specific – but I wasn’t following a map, or hiking a trail with a destination, or running an errand. I was, frankly, as much as anything, just giving myself the space and time to really “hear myself think”. Was I successful? In every way I that I needed to be, sure, I think so. Is this bit of writing the outcome of all that? Mmm. Doubtful. Not in any clear cause & effect practical sense. I wasn’t seeking to develop a plan of action, or practice a specific practice, or write an essay on a topic. I just needed, rather earnestly, some solitary time to hear myself and to just be, quite as I am, without any sense of needing to chase a change or measure up to a standard. In that sense, it’s been a wildly successful bit of time away. Would a get away of this kind do wonders for you? No idea, honestly, and I’m sure it kind of depends on how well (or poorly) you are able to enjoy some solitary time – maybe that’s not your thing? Maybe you hate being absolutely alone? Your results would surely vary. Hell, my results vary and I greatly enjoy my solo time away, any chance I get make.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I check my oxygen. 99%. Nice. I take a moment to “feel where I’m at”, physically. Headache? It’s there, but not distracting. Arthritis pain? Managed. Posture? Yeah, okay. I notice it’s not great and “pull myself upright”. I gaze out the window across the mud flats of Siletz Bay – the tide is pretty low. There are a variety of water birds enjoying that, including a couple of larger birds – some kind of crane, and a heron. The gulls have taken their fun elsewhere for now. The water is flat, smooth, and very calm (what I can see), though I know if I step to the patio door and look out toward the ocean, I would see the waves gently kissing the shore.

I take a moment to reflect on a past that no longer wholly defines me (or holds me back) and to wonder what the future may hold, without becoming stranded in either. I sit quietly with my thoughts, poised in this “now” moment feeling fairly prepared to just “go with it” – whatever “it” may turn out to be. It’s a nice alternative to catastrophe, chaos, and despair. I breathe. In, then out. Then again. Some minutes later, I realize I slipped into meditation, fingers still poised carefully on the home row of the keyboard, expectantly. I’ve got a book (a couple, actually) that I also want to spend some time (reading)…

…Seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

I have been sitting at my keyboard now for some time. I occasionally take a sip of my coffee. My thoughts occupy my attention. I’d often be putting those into words and dropping them onto this previously blank page… this morning I am mostly just sitting and reflecting. There’s quite a lot to consider, and I am in this co-work space quite early, and it is quiet. I am alone. It’s a good time and place for thinking thoughts.

…How is it I still have not ever finished Proust? I’ve restarted In Search of Lost Time dozens of times… never even finished the first of its seven fucking volumes. LOL I reliably start it with enthusiasm – even find it captivatingly beautiful and wholly engaging – but some interruption or another will inevitably distract me, and honestly it’s very much the sort of thing that wants one’s full attention. For seven volumes. LOL I barely sit through full length movies anymore. I sit with that while, and it brings me back to this CGP Grey video, “Thinking About Attention” – I recommend it.

Why are human relationships so… challenging? I mean, it often seems that the closer we are I am with someone, the more difficult it can be to communicate clearly. It often seems as if I’m fighting to be understood through a fog of their assumptions and expectations, or that one or the other of us is more “waiting to talk” that really listening, and oh-my-fucking-god I am so over being interrupted and talked over (says a woman who constantly interrupts and talks over people – what the hell??)! (I could do better on this one, for sure. I keep practicing.)

My back aches this morning, and I’m cross. I also adjusted the timing on one of my prescriptions to better fit the whole picture of when/what I am taking, and that likely has something to do with my mood this morning. I slept through the night mostly, other than getting up to pee, and once when my partner rather randomly woke me up for some reason – that, unfortunately, is getting way too common, and I find myself frustrated that I’m not comfortable setting a boundary that I really really really want to make super clear; “I want to sleep, I need the sleep I get. Please don’t wake me for anything that isn’t an emergency.”

My car has a flat tire. I noticed yesterday – a Sunday. No place local does that kind of work on Sundays, so this morning I am driving my Traveling Partner’s sedan instead of my SUV. It’s fine, but that may be one more thing affecting my mood (the flat, I mean), although I am fortunate to have that option (to drive my partner’s car) available instead of finding myself having to be late to work or taking a day off to deal with a flat tire.

The new meds are definitely an improvement on a lot of things. The change in my thyroid medication seems to be a bigger deal than I anticipated; I have the energy to give a shit about more things more of the time. I’m not used to that. The result is that I’m taking more attentive care of my health (watching calories more closely, making a point to get more exercise, being more committed to my meditation practice), which seems like a very good thing. The new meds are also calming my anxiety (win!) – but neither my partner nor I are actually used to “this version of me”, yet.

I get lost in the background picture on my desktop right now. It’s a slideshow of pictures of a specific vantage point of the Portland waterfront, seen from the Eastbank Esplanade. In this picture, the sun is bright in the sky, and the water sparkles around a sailboat silhouetted in the bright sunshine. The sky is intensely blue, with a few white clouds low on the horizon, behind the skyline. Only today do I notice that the sailboat is flying no fewer than three American flags on it. I find myself scanning the waterfront for crowds – was this the Fourth of July weekend? Was it a festival weekend? What’s up with all those flags??

The stress leading up to finally getting my anxiety medicated got so intense I tore my poor cuticles to pieces. Small hangnails and spots where my cuticles simply split (my last manicure was not great) became things I couldn’t stop picking at absent-mindedly in anxious moments (which were most moments). My hands looked pretty bad by Friday. I struggled with the embarrassment of that, and my concern that no ethical manicurist would want to work on those terrible looking fingertips. Eventually, though, I got over it sufficiently to stop into a nail shop and get my hands cared for. My new manicure looks great, and my hands feel better. Worth it, although the sparkle and shine are sometimes distracting. lol

My Traveling Partner’s new CNC machine is on the way. This is not a replacement for the one he has, it’s an addition. I’m excited, but also keeping half an eye out for an opportunity to slip away to the coast or something, to give him room to work while he sets that up and calibrates it. I just don’t need to be around complicating that process, and don’t benefit from being on the receiving end of his frustration or distracted moments, myself. lol (I jot down a reminder to ask him when he expects it to arrive, so I can perhaps make reservations somewhere.)

“What a day.” I think to myself, then laugh – the day has hardly begun and there is literally nothing wrong so far. Fucking human primates, always making things hard on themselves.

…I think I’ll begin again.

Self-care is hard sometimes. I’m sipping my first cup of (less than good) coffee this morning, and reflecting on the challenge of managing my self-care, when the actual act of caring for myself and meeting my own needs is one of the actual anxiety triggers I find myself fighting. Yeesh.

I needed some time to think deeply without interruption, and to weep or rage if that is where my thinking happened to take me – without concern about criticism, or self-consciousness, or needing to “put a good face on it” if someone attempted to offer help expecting a result for their efforts. I “had some homework to do” and needed time and space to do it with care. So, I booked an inexpensive room on the coast (love the off-season specials!) and took my camera, my laptop, and my madness out to the coast for an overnighter of self-reflection. I mean… that’s all this trip was honestly good for. “King tides” and absolutely terrible rainy weather definitely kept me mostly indoors, other than breezes and rain and fresh air out on the balcony.

…Hell, I was so focused on the self-work I wanted to be working through, I explicitly planned not to go out for dinner (or lunch), and brought along a pack of ramen noodles and some snacks. Good enough. 🙂

Funny thing is, I was started on my “homework” before I even got to the coast; just making the plans took me through an anxiety “fun house” as I tried to communicate my needs and how I wanted to meet those – and I hadn’t even booked the room yet! See, it’s like this; if going to the coast meets needs of my partner’s, I feel quite relaxed about going, and even eager to enjoy that time. Fair enough. Why not? But, each time I framed the trip (in my own thoughts) as explicitly for me, my anxiety went through the roof. This is not uncommon in my experience with my anxiety; willful, considerate acts of self-care and choice often come with a huge increase in my anxiety that taints both the planning and the experience itself. Makes it very emotionally difficult to balance my needs with the needs of those around me; mine cause me anxiety, and I tend to select away from that emotional experience. Over time, my resentment builds until I can’t mask it anymore, and that creates an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Not ideal. I can do better….

…Can’t I?

So. I danced around wanting to do an overnight on the coast. I brought it up once. Twice. I wasn’t getting traction on the idea with my partner; he was eager to have me around, having completed the most complicated set-up work with the new CNC. He misses me when I’m gone. Shit. This kept getting more difficult each time I tried to sort of slide into the idea for a win. Then I really took a look at what I was doing and saying, and observed how I was failing myself. My partner even explicitly said to me “I sure won’t stop you if you want to go to the coast for you, Baby.” He invited me to take care of myself. He simply expects me to own that in an honest way. Makes sense.

So. I tried again, Friday afternoon. I clarified that I wanted to go to the coast and do some emotional homework and reflect on my anxiety without concern that my emotional experience may be encroaching on his, or awareness of his presence (and his needs) that could distract me from the self-work I wanted to do. I laid out my plan, and asked him to tell me if any of the details were a pain point for how he would manage his day on Saturday. He pointed out that if I lingered at home into the afternoon, I would cut his productive time in the shop short. So I adjusted my plan to account for that; I’d enjoy morning coffee with him, run a couple local errands right quick, then head to the coast around 10:00, putting me at the hotel shortly before noon. I arranged an early check-in with the hotel for convenience. It felt good to be heard, and to have a clear plan that supported my needs. It also caused me quite a bit of anxiety into the night on Friday – just because I made a point (and a plan) to meet my own needs without also couching that in the terms of meeting the needs of others as well. It passed.

I woke feeling light and merry yesterday. We enjoyed a lovely morning and shared coffee together. I ran those errands. While I was out and about, my Traveling Partner pinged me to ask “Are you going to the coast today?” My anxiety spiked hard. Did he not know? Had I failed to clearly communicate? Was it not okay to go after all?? I stopped the car nearby and parked for a minute. Nothing he said was at all a criticism or an attack; he just asked a question. Commonplace stuff that, to check one’s assumptions and expectations. Nothing to fear from that. I breathed through the moment, and answered the question. “Yes”. He sent back smiles and kisses and hearts. Huh. That wasn’t scary at all. It’s as if he was just asking a fucking question. Anxiety is such a liar.

I finished my errands, headed back, and started getting ready to go to the coast. My bags were already packed (it honestly took no time; one overnight, and my camera and laptop bags are pretty much always ready to grab-and-go). “You’re going?” my partner asked. I could see he would actually rather I stayed, and that he would enjoy my company. Anxiety. I shook off the momentary inclination to abandon my plans and smiled “yep, I’m ready.” We kissed good-bye and exchanged loving words and well-wishes, and off I went.

…The traffic wasn’t even bad, and the heavy rain didn’t seem to rouse my anxiety any further. Huh. Something to think about.

The entire drive to the coast was “productive” time alone with my thoughts. Uneventful autumn drive with some truly lovely spots in spite of the heavy rain obscuring that sometimes obscured my view, so I spent it thinking deeply… about anxiety. About, specifically, my own experience of anxiety. I didn’t spend that time berating or criticizing myself, just thinking about how it seems to “work” and what most often triggers my anxiety (specifically in my relationship with my Traveling Partner). Thinking about how I communicate, and where that may be undermining my emotional wellness when anxiety becomes “a thing” in a given moment. Thinking about “fear” and “anxiety” and also thinking about “anger” and “anxiety” – where those overlap, or fuel each other, where they seem to be at odds, and what I can do about – or with – any of it. I spent quite a bit of the drive simply reflecting on how different the outcomes were trying to planning this overnight, depending on how I attempted to communicate my needs, my plan, and how I sought his thoughts or support. It’s a lot. Which sometimes also causes me anxiety.

Once I settled into the room, I sat on the balcony in the chilly wind, watching the tide recede, and thinking about anxiety. I had a list of questions to reflect on and to answer for myself. I got to work on that. No, I did not “solve for X” and wake this morning having cured my anxiety… but I feel pretty good, and I think I have a clearer understanding of some useful ways to diminish my anxiety in the moment, and allow it to dissipate more readily. Do I still need help with it? Fuck yes. I’m grateful to have a loving supportive partner and a really good therapist. 🙂

Late in the evening, my partner pinged me with a progress report on his day and some loving chit-chat. He asked if I would be home “in the morning”. I understood him to be saying he’d like me to be home in the morning (vs later in the day). He asked if I would bring donuts. 🙂 Hell yes. 😀

So…now I’m sitting here sipping hotel coffee, watching the dawn unfold, rainy and gray. I woke to darkness and a low tide. No surprise; Daylight Savings Time ended last night and I also read the tide tables yesterday. lol The featureless gray that woke me as “daylight” wasn’t actually daylight at all, really, it just wasn’t quite dark, and I was well-rested. I’ll be gone before the next high tide – so I’m glad I saw the one yesterday. 🙂 The wind blew so hard during the night it scooted the chairs on the balcony from one side to the other. It’s a stormy sort of morning, lovely to watch from the warm of this room. I enjoy my coffee.

…It’s already time to start packing and getting dressed; I don’t want to miss the good donuts. LOL

I took an unplanned fairly spontaneous trip to the coast for the weekend. It developed out of a conversation with my Traveling Partner, in his shop, Friday afternoon, after I finished my work day. He was neck deep in wiring a box, or programming a thing, or… something complicated. There was detailed technical documentation open on the computer near him. He had his “engineer face” on. I was definitely an interruption, and he was definitely doing his interrupted-best to be sweet to me in spite of that. “Looks like complicated work…” I said, or something similar. “What do you need?” he replied by way of affirmation and also getting somewhat impatiently to the point. “Would it be helpful if I went to the coast this weekend?” my mouth said, to my brain’s surprise (I no longer remember why I actually went into the shop at that moment – perhaps to ask questions about dinner preferences?). He said something encouraging without really engaging me 100%, and that was as much encouragement as I really needed. It was clear he needed room to work, and space to focus on the work in front of him.

Earlier in the day my browser had pinged me a notification about coastal “deals” at a hotel I like. I dug it out of the trash folder and looked it over. Seemed a reasonable price, and I settled on “the flip of the coin” and “letting fate decide”; if there was a room available still, I’d take it and grab my camera gear and go.

…There was one room left. It was already 4 pm. It was a rainy afternoon, and a Friday. I felt my anxiety surge; I don’t prefer to be driving after dark (I’m sometimes blinded by oncoming headlights, which seems unsafe). I grabbed my overnight bag, my camera bag, and my laptop bag. I grabbed some seasonally appropriate layers of clothing and stuffed them into my overnight bag, along with my toiletries. I swapped my work laptop for my personal laptop and my laptop bag was ready-to-travel. Packing took a brisk 5 to 10 minutes, since I have things like my camera gear and laptop pretty much always ready-to-go, and a default “don’t care” approach toward casual clothing for solo trips (clean and seasonally appropriate is good enough). I put my gear in the car, double-checked that I had my keys, my purse, and the battery charger for my camera batteries. I added my Kindle. I was ready to go. I returned to the shop for a kiss and a departing word. My partner seemed both surprised (“Wow, that was fast.”) and relieved (saying, seconds later, “Just go already.”). There was no sense that anything was “wrong”, just that my lingering to share details was not well-timed. So… off I went.

The view from my room. I arrived in time to see the sun set on a rainy day.

I spent my time walking beaches and wild spots, taking pictures, enjoying some solo time for self-reflection, and thinking over “how anxiety works” without being mired in it. I enjoyed the time knowing that I was not any sort of distraction for my Traveling Partner, who likely enjoyed being free to indulge himself by being immersed in his project without an eye on the clock, or any concern about disturbing me. A win all around.

A new day dawning.

I woke to a text message from my Traveling Partner saying he is “ready for me to come home now” (less in the sense that his project is wholly completed, and more just that he misses me that much) and asking when I plan to head back today. I feel it too; ready to go home. Ready to be in my partner’s good company. Ready to drink good coffee in my own home. Ready to sleep deeply in my own bed. Ready to have life’s conveniences where I expect them to be (instead of tucked in a bag, or splayed across a hotel coffee table). Ready for my partner’s laughter and jokes. Ready to be wrapped in the safety and comfort of home.

The sky this morning is delicate shades of pink and peach, and the air feels soft and forgiving. The morning chill is pleasant after sweating through some troubling dreams during the night. This coffee, here in the hotel room? Dreadful. Quite terrible. Notably so. lol There is time for a shower and time to pack up with care – there’s even time to take a few more pictures and get one more walk on the beach. No rush. I’m just eager to be home. 🙂

I pause my writing long enough to step out onto the balcony to breath the fresh sea air, then make my way downstairs to the breakfast bar. It’s a meager selection here (no kitchen). Adequate. I’m grateful; the coffee is an incremental improvement over instant, which was quite a bit better (still bad) compared to the poor quality drip coffee pouches provided in the room. It’s good enough. For breakfast I just grab a yogurt. The dawn beyond the balcony distracts me a bit from words on a page; the understandable pull of what is real, just outside my reach. The yogurt (a brand-name peach-flavored item) tastes pleasant, and “goes down easy” – which is nice. I woke feeling mildly upset to my stomach after unpleasant dreams (which may have been caused by an upset stomach…?). Nice to have a breakfast option that has the potential to improve things, and is at least unlikely to worsen things.

…Do I actually have “an upset stomach” – or is it symptomatic of my anxiety, which I have been paying close attention to, while also seeking not to “engage” it in direct one-on-one “conversation”? Something to think over. I for sure don’t have all the answers. I can definitely say I’m “over” having my anxiety continuing to “be a thing”… which doesn’t at all change whether it is. lol I sip my fresh cup of coffee. Definitely better. Still not actually good. LOL

…Like my anxiety, “definitely better – still not actually resolved”…

My stomach feels much improved with the better cup of coffee and the yogurt… I think about anxiety. I’d very much like to reliably do something that results in my anxiety also being reliably much improved. I mean, improved beyond the improvements thus far – more improved. I see a clinician this week to discuss returning to an Rx treatment for the anxiety continuing to lurk in the background. Here’s hoping that works out well. 🙂 I’m at least hopeful after discussing it with my therapist (PhD, not MD, so he doesn’t prescribe medications and I have to go elsewhere for that).

I miss my Traveling Partner. 🙂 Oh, but I also enjoy the sound of the wind and the waves, and the gulls calling out to each other in the sky, and from the beach… I’ll be back. For now, it’s just time to head home and begin again. 😀

The tide has turned…

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.