Archives for posts with tag: good basic self-care

Staying home yesterday was the right choice. The small amount of effort exerted happily tidying up the smallest bit, while my energy level was high in the early morning, completely wiped me out. Not a set back, specifically, but definitely a clear warning sign that I’m not yet well. By mid-day, symptoms like dizziness, and that infernal headache, had gone completely, and I didn’t need to sleep all day. (Yay!!) So… definitely feeling “better”…but… then, sometime later in the day, the coughing got going on this whole other unnecessarily annoying level…and then… ouch. The muscles supporting my ribs, along my sides, not quite around toward my back, definitely involved in coughing…and… definitely not ready for all of this coughing. Something sprung, or pinched, or tweaked, or… both sides, now, every cough, there’s also muscle pain sharp in my awareness, not quite to the torn muscle severity, but god damn it hurts when I cough. 😦 How the ever-loving-fuck do I avoid coughing as I recover from the fucking flu???

I went to bed. Slept… okay… ish. For most values of “sleep” and “okay”. I woke often. Drinking this much tea, water, coffee… it’s a given. So there’s that. And the coughing. And the pain. I so do not want to go to work today. I could get some shit done here, though… I’m up to that. So it isn’t really the work, itself, that I’m not up to at this point – it’s the environment. I’m not up to it, and it’s not really the appropriate place to bring all this fucking loud coughing. (I sound like I’m literally dying of some horrible disease of the respiratory system, it’s hard to listen to.) (Not only that, but sitting near me would also subject someone to listening to my damned lungs making percolating noises while I breathe. lol Again, not the picture of vibrant health one expects from a coworker, generally.) Nor do I wish to expose others to this (although I already have – and omg, I am so sorry!!). So… this morning, my coffee, the trip to the office to grab my laptop and back home to “go to work”. Like… double the commute. <sigh> Yes, but also… heated seats. My arthritic back does like some time on the heated seat. 🙂

I just want to be well. lol I wake up making childish bargains with the universe (“If you just let me get through today without… “) that never work out (because that’s not how life works). I’m managing to take decently good care of myself, and it was lovely waking up this morning to a tidy little place, a clean kitchen, a sense of order, and a fireplace ready for me when I want it. That was one bonus out of the day, yesterday; the landlord was on site doing winterization stuff around the duplex (and no doubt other locations in the area), and stopped in to turn on the pilot light for the gas fireplace. 😀 It was pretty nice to enjoy the evening in the glow of a merry little fire, then also just switch it off at bed time. I enjoyed it so much that before bed I put a sticky note on the switch that says “this too costs cash”. lol

Still sick. My coffee is good, though (and my sense of taste is returning). I’m decently well-rested in spite of the very interrupted night. I’m clearly in the process of “getting well”, it’s just taking rather longer than I’d like. It’s a good opportunity to bring the work laptop home, and get back to work, even if I am not ready to get back to the office… It’s just time to begin again. Slowly. With great care. 🙂

I woke very early. I did the usual: took my medication, opened up the apartment to morning breezes. I returned to bed, but not to sleep. It was clear in only minutes that sleep would not return, because anxiety showed up. Feeling disinclined to dicker with her, I got up.

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

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

Day three in pain, mostly managed. It’s not that I was entirely pain-free four days ago, only that it worsened, and has remained so. As it is for many people, pain is part of my experience. By the time I finish my morning coffee, I hope to have worked out today’s strategy for dealing with it. No, I don’t have a perfect unchanging routine for managing pain; I’m not a freight train, and life is not on rails… also pain from headaches differs from arthritis differs from muscle spasms differs from neuropathic pain differs from athletic soreness. Even pain is not ‘one size fits all’, in experience or treatment.

A new day like an anticipated gift; I may know it's coming, but I don't know what's in it until it arrives.

A new day is like an anticipated gift; I may know it’s coming, but I don’t know what’s in it until it arrives.

It is still so early that there is no hint of day break in the sky. I hurt enough this morning that it even distracts me from the anxiety that I woke with, although perhaps they are not unrelated. I don’t feel like writing, though… I think I’ll head for my meditation cushion, instead, and meditate until the sun rises. Taking care of the woman in the mirror and this fragile vessel will be enough, today. 🙂

This morning I have been gently plagued by a subtle sensation of having overlooked something, or that ‘something is missing’ or forgotten. After some moments, I realized I hadn’t made coffee. Later on, I notice I have forgotten to switch off the burner on the stove. Later still I notice that I was distracted while dressing – and have one fuzzy spa sock on, and one sturdy warm hiking sock. I know one thing with certainty; I have not been starting my day from a mindful place. Fortunately, the solution is both simple and low-cost.. there are, of course, verbs involved. 🙂

Loving begins with the woman in the mirror.

Loving begins with the woman in the mirror.

I slow myself down, taking time to breathe – really breathe, without being distracted by things other than this moment, this breath. I notice the tension in my shoulders, and the eagerness in my approach to beginning the day – sloppy, inattentive, but enthusiastic. I let the tension fall away, breathing, and letting the sensation and experience of breathing be enough to fill this moment. I let my awareness extend and expand, embracing the coziness of my wee home, and the warmth and joy of the beats playing on the stereo – K-Lab “Out the Door” starts the day with energy and movement. Movement becomes dance, and I stay engaged in this moment, allowing my sense of self and place to be fluid, feeling stiff joints begin to move more easily, pain begins to ease, the smile on my face settles into something soft, without edges, fearless and joyful. Dance is another sort of meditation altogether – and I smile, thinking of dancers other than I – ‘real ones’, professionals, committed amateurs of great skill, passionate performers of public art, I am awed by that kind of devotion to an art form – the sort whereby ones entire physical being is transformed almost into another sort of creature entirely. I am not that sort of dancer – I’m the 52-year-old version of a teenager dancing in front of her mirror; I enjoy the way dancing feels and any appearance of skill in any one moment is pure coincidence, and that’s totally okay.

I dance through all manner of small chores: dishes, making up the bed, tidying this and that, cleaning the bathroom. The morning no longer feels like something has been overlooked, and between meditation, and dancing, I find myself feeling ‘reconnected’ to myself, to my own experience, and no longer on auto-pilot. It is a cold morning (outside) and my bones seem to know it, they crack and pop as I move, but the aching isn’t bad today, and I am in less pain than on many other mornings. I consider the matter of ‘auto pilot’ for some minutes, wondering at the balance between needing/using it – and allowing life to slip by on programming that is reliably adequate to pass time but hardly counts as ‘living’. I very much prefer to live life, mistakes and all. It’s taken a while to be certain of that, and there have certainly been some moments when it has been frightening to let go of some long-standing habit I have relied on in order to embrace a truly unscripted authentic experience of living life. Totally worth it.

I sit back for a moment and consider how positive and… good…things have been lately. I find myself wondering a tad insecurely whether I am less interesting without the day-to-day struggling and suffering – followed by a moment of puzzlement afterward that such a worry could even be a thing. I sometimes worry that I may stray into bragging, or smugness, or complacency, or a feeling of superiority – or a sense of having finished this journey prematurely somehow. This quantity of good days is unfamiliar, new territory on this journey of mine – I am unlikely to take it for granted, but words are devilishly subtle, often giving away what seems hidden from the writer’s view. I know that I want to communicate that incremental change over time is a real thing, that we can improve our individual experience of our circumstances – and even our circumstances themselves – and that it is possible to wade through all the chaos and damage to reach another place entirely… but… I very much want to do so in a way that is inclusive, and reaches beyond my own limited mortal experience to some distant point out there, where you are – or someone else – reading these words, looking for something to hold on to, whatever that might be. I want to say ‘You can do this! See? I did… which surely means it is doable!”… I most specifically do not intend a message of  ‘ha ha, look where I got and you aren’t here’ – a message which would be both very cruel, and also a serious indication I hadn’t gotten very far at all, really. I maintain a certain tender concern that I not cause harm through carelessly communicating effortlessness, or ease – there really are verbs involved – but I earnestly also want to shout from the roof tops “you can do this! we all can do this!” hoping someone might feel just a little less alone or discouraged, out there on their own journey through the chaos and damage.

Every morning a new start, every horizon a new destination, and every moment a new experience.

Every morning a new start, every horizon a new destination, and every moment a new experience.

…And, let’s be real, I’m both pleased and grateful to be in this better place than I’ve ever been before. Celebrating that is a worthy thing. I am taking those steps that move life from surviving to thriving – one at a time, with plenty of practice, and pausing to return to mindfulness when I notice that feeling that something is missing. 🙂

My name doesn’t say much about me – you can call me Lisa if you’d like. Or not. Shakespeare had it right with ‘what’s in a name?’. You could ask me questions, a lot of them, and find out many details of my experience in life, my thoughts on those experiences, the values that drove the choices on which those experiences were built…but what do you know about the being within the fragile vessel by doing so? Some details. Cobbled together with some assumptions based on your own experience, your own values, and the choices you make about your understanding of the world, you will build a picture of ‘who I am’ that you are content to accept as ‘me’. Maybe you like that person, maybe you don’t – is it ‘who I am’ for anyone but you?

Do I define the journey, or does the journey define me?

Do I define the journey, or does the journey define me?

Am I any less constrained by those same limitations – even when I consider the question ‘who am I’, myself? Who is this woman in the mirror? Do I define myself by my experiences? Which ones? Are the traumas inflicted on me more important than the events I chose for myself? Is it my response or reaction to events that matters more? Is it my thoughts, or my creativity that define who I am? Does my injury define me? Is it my choices, my values, or how I treat others? How I wear my hair is not who I am, nor is what I choose to wear. The books I read are not who I am, neither is how I vote. My anger is not who I am, and my careless frankness isn’t either. Somehow all of it is – but even all of it seems some very small piece of who I am – like ‘dark matter’, it seems the ‘who I am’ puzzle is by far the vast, most important bit ‘about me’, making up most of ‘everything’…and also not easily described or defined. So…yeah. Who I am? Who are you? These are very good questions.

I woke this morning feeling content, comfortable in my skin, and subtly in conflict with myself, as if I had wandered off from an important discussion in progress by waking. I lingered in front of the mirror naked, looking over this fragile vessel and considering the being within. Mirrors made me uncomfortable for a long time; I could not bear to see the hurt, sadness, and astonished betrayal in my eyes, and I was uncomfortable with my aging flesh. This morning I stood calmly, enjoying the curves and lines of a body that has served me well over the years. I smiled at a scar I’d forgotten about, and recalled the event that put it there. I paused to appreciate that so much of the damage done by the violence of my youth seems to be sorting itself out; I can stand in front of a mirror and enjoy who I am.

There is a small shaving mirror mounted in my shower. I don’t use it for shaving, and it is not placed there for the convenience of lovers or guests. I put that small mirror there because I noticed that living alone cut me off from eye contact with my traveling partner and I really missed it, and felt the lack. My reading on the subject of emotional intimacy and connection suggested the lack could be more fundamental, and perhaps be addressed as a need that I could fill for myself and somehow ‘get by’ on that. I put the mirror in the shower so every day, every time I am in the shower, I have an opportunity to make eye contact with someone whose affection for me is singularly reliable, someone I want to know much better, be much closer to, and shower (lol) with Love. I felt a little silly even trying it out – it seemed like a ‘trick’ I was playing on myself. Turns out not to be a trick at all. I have lovely eyes. I enjoy my smile – even the small quiet smile that often gets missed or misunderstood. Eye contact with myself seems to have the good emotional benefits of eye contact in general. As practices go, pretty simple, and I feel more in touch with myself. It helps that I am unafraid of the woman in the mirror, and on good terms with the woman within.

The morning is pleasant, my coffee is tasty, and the music playing the background has me grooving in my chair while I write. This is an excellent moment. I pause the writing to enjoy it, and dance to a favorite track. The practicing of practices, and incremental progress over time have taught me that it is not necessary to be so fit that I can dance for 30 continuous minutes or more to benefit from movement. At my heaviest, I had stopped dancing. Heartache stalled my joy machine, my weight and arthritis were significant limitations, and I couldn’t move easily. Over time I just stopped dancing. When I started trying to turn things around in earnest, I rather awkwardly and uncomfortably also tried to begin dancing again. First it was just seconds. I was stiff. Self-conscious. Fearful. Reluctant. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Uncertain. But seconds eventually became a song. Song, singular, became songs plural. Songs became a playlist, and a playlist became my morning and I awakened to the powerful joy in movement – not just yoga. Not just walking. I love to dance. I probably ‘suck at it’ by all external standards – and that doesn’t matter a bit. It’s about the feeling of it, the sensuality, the freedom, the sensation of the beat and the pure primitive delight of movement to music. That’s all mine, and I am not living this life for anyone else. I’m not 20 any more, true. I’m not Ciara, never was. Damn, though, it feels good to hear the music I love and be moved by it in a literal way, and be able to dance. Meeting that need doesn’t require impressing anyone. 🙂

This morning I am contemplating ‘self’ and ‘other’ and considering what it means to be individual, and to connect with others. Asking myself what I expect of me, what I tolerate, what I enjoy – and asking myself if I am applying my values fairly to both myself, and my expectations of myself, and others dear to me, too. Am I too hard on myself? I know that I can be. Am I too hard on others? Do I attempt to hold them to a standard I can’t achieve, myself? Am I too willing to excuse behavior that isn’t okay with me, because I am hesitant to apply a standard I hold for myself? I know that I have that potential, for sure. What matters most? We are each mortal, each prone to mistakes and poor choices, each entirely predictably likely to behave consistent with our own values – not the ones we share willingly in words, or the values the society we live within recommends; we live our true values in our continued behavior over time. I suspect it is one thing we are powerless to do differently; we live the values we actually hold, changing our behavior may require us to change our values – or result in our values changing because we have changed our behavior. Being attentive to someone’s behavior is the only way to know their values with any certainty. Then what?

Like a mushroom, there is often more to a question than the obvious words.

Like a mushroom, there is often more to a question than the obvious words.

Questions on a Thursday morning. More questions than answers. Plenty of time to love the woman in the mirror, and dance. 🙂