Archives for posts with tag: I am okay right now

I am struggling to find balance this morning. I feel it most as I fight off the impulse to rush into the office ahead of schedule, even before the building is unlocked to all the staff. I recognize there is no rational purpose to doing so, and that doing so is not likely to provide relief of the subtle tension that has built since yesterday evening. I struggle to ‘let it go’ – I’m prone to remaining fixated on things that have urgency or importance projected into them by others; I feel the urgency as an emotion, and a compulsion to act. I’m not saying this is a peculiar thing, or that it is not shared by many, it is simply my experience this morning.

It began last night, actually. Just as my traveling partner and I exchanged well-wishes for a night of good rest, someone on my team at work texted me to alert me that a system change did not (or maybe did not) go as planned; all seemed well, except he himself was no longer able to access our system on his own credentials. Damn it. Texts were exchanged. I sync’d my work email and caught up on the relevant thread and without meaning to at all… I was ‘at work’ and working. After a while I realized that I was not going to be able to do the best possible troubleshooting from the perspective and information I had, and also faced needing to rest for the next day… and that’s when I realized I was caught in the sticky web of some other agenda than my own, and at risk of treating myself badly. Yep. That matters more.

I put the work on pause. Silenced my phone. Dimmed the household lights that remained. I took a seat on my meditation cushion, and took steps to distance myself from work in order to sleep. It took awhile. It took almost an hour of meditation, appropriate medication, and another half an hour of recreational reading to calm my mind such that sleep was possible. I woke once, around 1 am. Work thoughts surfacing in dream content woke me; there were mistakes in the dreaming that got my attention, and in my dream I began troubleshooting all over again. What woke me was a mistake that would not respond to action taken to resolve it. I got up to pee, and returned to sleep with relative ease. When the alarm went off this morning, some portion of my consciousness was already fully awake, although my body was still asleep, and – you guessed it – I was ‘working’ already. 😦

I was up and dressed to leave so quickly, it was necessary to halt myself and undress in order to have a shower; I was about to leave for work, without a shower, coffee, or actually taking care of myself in any way at all. Foolish, and although in some moments that sort of urgency may have it’s place, I’ve not seen it rewarded much in life in any practical fashion of lasting value; it drives stress, high blood pressure, and inefficiency. Cultural programming puts way to much focus on work/employment concerns as it is. At a distance, I recognize that being prepared, skilled, and efficient don’t require urgency, compulsion, or reactivity – practicing the more balanced calmer approach to work is complicated by an environment and society that continues to react, to be compelled, and to find all matters related to work to be ‘urgent’, when indeed they simple are not. So… I struggle some this morning to maintain a sense that I am my own highest priority at this hour of the day, not yet in the office, coffee in front of me. I breathe, and let it go – again. I find my mind coming back to the problem, and again I breathe and let it go. Now is not the time for that. ‘Now’ is time for me, particularly this now, so early in the morning, carved out of each day specifically for my own needs.

My consciousness still feels encroached upon inappropriately, and the ‘tug of war’ between me, what I need myself, and that ‘foreign presence’, the demands of employment. I fuss, back and forth, picking up the thread on the work puzzle, reminding myself of my own needs and putting it aside again. Back and forth. Woven into the fabric of my morning, even filling my words, here, with work. I sip my coffee, and take a few moments to relax, and listen to the soft music in the background, to be present, even noticing the chill of the room, and making room in my experience for distant sounds of traffic, the hum of the refrigerator, to notice my tinnitus seems unusually loud, to feel and to breathe. As ‘now’ becomes more prominent, work falls away again. It is a strange sort of dance, back and forth. I don’t care for it at all, and the morning is less than ideally comfortable.

I think about what I need most to care for myself, and what I may need this evening. I recognize that I am ‘pushing myself too hard’, although I am doing all I know to do to pull back on that, my greatest success is awareness, this morning, more than any real change. Practicing, always practicing – and incremental change over time being what it is, this experience this morning is less intense, less disruptive, less agonizing than other such experiences have been – hell, I slept. I even slept fairly restfully, although my mind was very busy, and my dreams were colorful and surreal, filled with detritus left over from the work day, in the form of strange object placement or events (seriously – a ‘portable thermostat’ one might stick on a backpack for ‘go anywhere’ climate control?? Yeah. Our office is seriously cold all the time.)

Breathe. Begin again.

Breathe. Begin again.

Well. Here I am. Still at it. Still practicing. Still taking care of me. Still beginning again and using verbs. Sure – yes, and of course – this is a very human experience, and I sometimes work very hard to endure the most uncomfortable challenges and find my own way. I’ve got a lot to learn on this journey… On the other hand, I am my own cartographer. I have choices – so many choices – and while choosing to calm myself, to take care of myself, to enjoy my time and be engaged and present in this moment isn’t always the easiest of choices (how much easier would it have been to rush to the office without pausing for coffee?!), the value in slowing down and taking care of my own needs is very real.

I think for a moment of my friends – some grinding away years of their lives on shit jobs they don’t care for, others involved in endeavors that feed their passion professionally, all of us exchanging some measure of time for currency we can use to fund the lives that matter to us most. I find myself hoping that they know how important they are to themselves, and that it is their life that has the value, not their employment, and that they find time to really live, to really love, to enjoy each precious moment. Impermanence is a thing too, and we are mortal creatures; there is no time to waste. I use my sympathy and compassion for my friends’ experiences to ease my resentment in this moment; I would so much rather sleep in, then spend the day painting, writing, tending my garden… you know, living my life, and there’s time for that, but before I do, I’ll just need to go over there and exchange a portion of my life force for some pieces of paper, and a balance in a bank account…

 

Another morning. I sip my coffee and breathe through the sensation of unease that begins to develop each time my thoughts land on moving; I have the keys, the lease is signed, and for the moment I live between places, in the thoughts of going from one to the other. It’s peculiar.

One day, one moment, of many.

One day, one moment, of many.

Today moving begins in earnest. Do I move the kitchen first? Maybe the bathroom? Just start with the farthest closest? Patio garden first to get it out of the way of carrying things through the convenient patio door? Across the muddy strip of winter lawn? These are not new thoughts, and they drift past in more or less the same order that they do each time they get my attention, again. The repetition I rely on to firm up good practices is a nuisance this morning; I have been here and it does not need to be revisited. It’s the unease; there is anxiety in the magnitude of changes, and a fear of ‘doing it wrong’, even though the only person making the call on whether it is going well or poorly is me. My home, my rules, my way; I am the sole architect of my joy or discontent on this move – and I’m a tad irritated with myself to be throwing my heart into turmoil over something I approached with eagerness and enthusiasm from the outset. These are the emotional circumstances that develop for me around change, and the greater the change the higher the likelihood that I will find myself, at some point, weeping or raging – lost in a storm of uncontrolled emotion, unable to function until it passes.

I am relying heavily on myself on this move. I generally do, then get tangled up in the help of friends in moments of humanity, things lost or things broken, feeling frustrated when real-life doesn’t meet expectations. This time I am leaning on lessons learned in the most recent 3 or 4 moves; I will handle what I can, and reach out only for the specific help I really need, when that time comes. I have professional coming to handle the very heaviest pieces. The satisfaction in self-reliance is pretty profound, and I am in a place in life where living focused more on contentment than on profit has resulted in household goods of fair lightness, with only a handful of pieces I can’t lift or maneuver on my own. I expect to ‘work my own way’, which often means sipping coffee between tasks, sitting down for a minute quite frequently, and taking my time – but also working in an organized way, and quite continuously at my slow steady pace from waking to crashing at the end of the day, passionately involved in creating order from chaos. Embracing change awake, and aware, and mostly fairly fearlessly… well… except for the occasional moment of nauseating unease.

I am missing my traveling partner. I am not regretting my decision to handle the move without his help, though. Every move we have done together has taxed our relationship during that period of time between beginning the moving, and finally getting entirely unpacked and settled in; I don’t handle change well, and it is uncomfortable to live with. (That’s putting it mildly, based on what I see reflected in my journal notes.) I don’t know what to expect from this particular move, emotionally, and I endeavor to set myself up for success by being okay with the unknown, on this one, rather than attempting to nudge myself in line with some specific expectation or another; maybe this is the move that shows me it doesn’t have to be such a disruptive experience? I’ve come pretty far. Still… I do miss him. I think about him often. Love anchors me to the move with a sense of purpose and security.

New perspective.

New perspective.

One more work day… then, The Move, and only The Move. I figure I’ll be living in the new place more or less full-time by Thursday afternoon… which also means I will be disconnected from FiOS for a handful of days until the provider cuts over my circuit to the new location some days later. I consider it – is it an inconvenience? I can tether with my phone, so it isn’t as if I am facing being without connectivity completely… Funny that internet access feels like a necessity in life, like drinking water and secure housing, or medical care; it is the unimaginable future of my childhood.  Still, maybe some digital downtime while I move is an opportunity more than a headache? More room and time to simply breathe, simply be. There will be time for dissecting lessons learned and having meta conversations later, and there is much to be said for having the experience I am having.

Today is a good day for time…and motion. Today is a good day to ‘walk on’ in life, with eyes wide with wonder and a playful sense of purpose. Today is a good day to remember that plans are not the goal – just as the map is not the world. Today is a good day to live life.

 

 

This morning I woke to a powerful feeling of insecurity and fearfulness that points directly at the move I am making this very week. The timing is inconvenient – and quite probably not at all coincidental. Buried in the chaos and damage are ancient reminders that I “am not good enough” and “don’t deserve this” or “can’t make this work” or ‘know’ this will “all go very wrong soon enough”. The vague uneasiness and doubt escalate then recede again and again as I work through my morning routine. My eye falls on some detail that got missed in the housekeeping, like a used tissue that missed the small bathroom waste basket, but also got missed when I emptied the trash yesterday, and instead of simply resolving the matter and moving on without concern, there is a hint of inward beratement and impatience lurking there, waiting for me. It is unusual these days for me to be so hard on myself.

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

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

I almost skip my shower, as though taking the time for it somehow robs me of time I could otherwise use for… what… being anxious? I attempt to make a light moment of it, and although that fails, I find myself compliant with the self-care rituals so carefully maintained, standing in the shower, doing the showering thing. It’s a step. I make eye contact with myself in the small shaving mirror mounted in the shower, and take some deep calming breaths. Change comes with the challenges and disruption of change itself – and the change that is moving is pretty much going to touch every routine of my day, all the perspectives of each angle of view I am used to seeing, the placement of every object in my personal space, the ambient noises, and shadows – yep. Basically everything but the actual contents of my home, and me – the woman living within it. The magnitude and weight of it hits me fully for the first time… everything is changing.

…The nausea hit me unexpectedly, and without argument. It was likely that I didn’t drink enough water with my morning medication, but this makes twice in the past couple weeks and so rare these days that it is almost certainly telling me something… about something. In the moment, though, I take it as a living metaphor, and hold onto the perspective of puking up all the baggage, the anxiety, the fear, and letting it go. I don’t know that it was as effective as I’d like, but I feel some better. Could be that the anxiety was impending nausea all along, and that as human primates do, I gave it a root cause from deep within that was not actually causal at all, merely correlated. I return to my coffee, undeterred by the uncomfortable moment; there is much to do.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

The anxiety and insecurity are common [for me] during experiences that involve a lot of change. The more change, the more fear, generally. I can feel how tight my chest is, and the coiled spring of anxiety that has taken hold of the place where my diaphragm once rested, relaxed and ready for all the breathing and such. I feel a certain moment of relief that my traveling partner isn’t sleeping in the other room this morning; my anxiety permeates the room in a palpable way, or so it seems to me. It isn’t a comfortable experience to live alongside, and is the big reason I didn’t reach out for his help with the move. “I’ve got this!” is the war cry of protecting my love from the bullshit I must still wade through, cope with – and perhaps someday master. There are so many things in life I rely on help with – but this one, the ‘managing change’ thing, I tend to rely most heavily on the woman in the mirror to get the job done, to circle back and find new comfort in new routines, to practice good practices, and to recognize stability and balance when the task is completed. I am eager to welcome him to a new home, with the same lovely calm energy, that feels similarly my own…but I try to protect him from how hard change hits me getting there.

So what if I am scared this morning? This is all happening quite fast – it was already January when I mentioned the observed vacancy to the apartment manager and found out about the remodeling. My original mention was as a passing fancy, only, and it was with my traveling partner’s encouragement that I considered it more seriously, eventually embracing the idea fully as a ‘next step’ on this journey, and a worthy improvement in quality of life at the expected price. I’m ready – I check again at how the budget works – but I feel this leaden dread resting in my belly.  “Bitch, what’s up with this fucking fear?” I think crossly to myself, almost immediately hearing my therapist’s voice gently pointing out the harsh tone I am taking with myself. Yes, yes, I know… I can (and these days generally do) treat myself better, and with greater kindness and compassion than this. I am irked with me; the insecurity would have been so much more easily managed a week ago, before the move was certain, would it not? I laugh out loud at myself; insecurity and doubt don’t work that way. I set aside my writing for meditation and self-care. Words can wait.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

Enough is enough. I am enjoying a life of general contentment and sufficiency. One limitation all this time has been the challenges presented romantically by my partner’s allergies, and how those are affected by much-lived-upon apartment carpeting. We discussed often how much more easily and regularly we could and would hang out together were it not for his allergies. In no small part the entire motivation for the move is to reduce the allergens in my home. It’s that simple. I’m paying a high price to do so, were that the only benefit (a very fancy air filter might do as well at a lower cost over the course of a year…maybe…), but there are other quality of life gains being made that are specific to my own day-to-day joy: the view of the park from the patio, no windows looking into neighbors windows, no shared wall on the bedroom side of the apartment, all new appliances in the kitchen, a shower insert in the bathroom that is entirely undamaged and never-repaired without a hint of entrenched mold or mildew beneath sealant, more convenient to the little community garden, and with enough additional space to move my artistic endeavors out of the living room… which also ensures that when I am painting or writing, I am not distracted by the world, so common from the vantage point of the couch in the living room.

The fearfulness hit me this morning, perhaps because I suddenly worried I am not being ‘true to myself’ by making this move? If what I have here is enough – why do I ‘need’ more? The deep breath that followed put me right at long last. This move is not about what I ‘need‘ at any minimum level; I have enough right now. Hell, after spending most of a week with my traveling partner right here, I’m quite certain this, here, is enough for me. Sharing my experience with him feels wonderful – and I want to position myself comfortably to enjoy more of that. This move is about finding my way – and learning to navigate the distance in my life between ‘enough’ and ‘more’, and learning what I want versus what I need, and making good decisions about which sorts of ‘more’ keep me on the path of becoming the woman I most want to be, living well and mindfully, taking care of me, and taking care to love well. There is a peculiar balance to strike here; if I refuse to move because of the expense, explicitly in order to hold on to those dollars in the bank account, in order to maintain a specific quantity of cash flow, unspent each month, what am I buying with my labor? Numbers? In an account? To what end does this serve me when those same dollars can also add 300 sq ft of useful living space, of a more healthy quality?

At long last my brain gets to the point; is the money I will spend on the new place being spent on something that matters to me such that the price is worth it? Isn’t that the question at the ‘bottom-line’? Is there something more or different on which I would truly prefer to spend that money, right now, every month? Do I have more urgent needs to meet that are going unmet? No, not really – and saving it as numbers in an account would serve just one purpose for me right now; to make these same sorts of changes through purchasing a home sometime down the road. Since that can be done regardless whether I make this move now, but would ideally wait (I think) until the car is paid off, this unexpected intermediate quality of life improvement is a nice option. I embraced it eagerly for all these reasons, and more, and I’ve given it considerable thought…what more is there to do with the insecurity and anxiety now, except to breathe?

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I’m ready. Fear is not calling my shots today. 🙂

I spent the weekend taking care of me, and each small detail added up to a smile on Sunday and a feeling that I am ready to take on another week. I am okay right now, and in a pretty good place. I’ve got a favorite animated show on in the background, and I am avoiding sitting at the computer too much; yoga and cartoons is one way to do that.

Yesterday one good practice I relied on to help me out of my funk was engaging my brain in learning something genuinely new; novelty holds immense potential to reset my emotional state. In this case, I chose to try out a video game that seemed likely to be a good fit for me; more likely to promote skill-building and emotional balance, than to drive serious frustration. I also spent time reading, and studying, and restoring order in my environment where I’d started to let chaos creep in slowly (laundry, dusting, vacuuming – mindful tending of hearth and home can feel very calming).

Minecraft. I admit it, I am totally enjoying this game. :-)

Minecraft. I am totally enjoying this game. 🙂

The video game definitely lifted me out of my funk…but…yeah. I don’t always adult really skillfully, and I didn’t really give thought to the ergonomics of monitor placement. Today I have a stiff neck. To be clear, it seems a reasonable trade-off in any case, but next time I hope to consider that sort of detail, also. 🙂

When I have become overwhelmed by circumstances, or emotions, slowing things down is a reliably good starting point. Taking the very best care of this fragile vessel is a good next step – I’ve confirmed this a number of times. I finish the weekend feeling rested, loved, cared-for and content…now, I wait for water to boil for a cup of tea, and for the sun to set; I consider going for a walk at twilight.

I'm looking for a metaphor about connectedness and interdependence...and just feeling content to be...content.

I’m looking for a metaphor about connectedness and interdependence…and just feeling content to be…content.

Today is a good day to watch the sun set and understand that it doesn’t set only on me; the sun sets on us all, every day. The sun also rises. I can begin again. I just need to give myself room to breathe.  🙂

I woke this morning, but I’m not actually sure when. I checked the clock at 2:38 am, but didn’t get up. I may have slept more, I don’t recall being wakeful, but I recall many moments of being awake. I don’t know whether they are consecutive (and I was awake until I got up) or separated by sleep (resulting in sleep, however restless it may have been). I got up at 6:38, 4 hour later, when I next checked the clock. If it had been, say, 3:11 am, I’d have gotten up to pee and gone back to bed afterward – and perhaps that would have been a good choice at 2:38 am. 🙂

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately.

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately; time to get back out on the trails.

I’m not sure what sort of morning this one is, so far. I’m still sore from more than usual miles of walking yesterday (a reminder to get back on the trail). I woke in pain, stiff from my arthritis, and since that’s primarily in my spine, it affects most movement, even breathing feels subtly impaired, as I fight the pain to find posture that allows deeper breaths. (Many of my headaches source with a damaged cervical vertebra (C7) and its adjacent arthritic siblings, rather than with my TBI.) I put on music first thing this morning, even before I turned on the aquarium lights, which is unusual. More unusual still, I didn’t do so with deliberate purpose and awareness, it was the action of someone just being and doing, action following impulse without intent. I’m not unhappy with the choice, but the ebb and flow of my emotions seems more connected this morning to the music than to my experience. Highs and lows come and go with the changing tracks on my playlist. I made my coffee, and forgot about it on the counter in the kitchen. My memory seems very clear on details that are often sort of vague and challenging – but I am peculiarly inattentive to other sorts of things I generally track well. And… Yesterday there was this moment when it was entirely and rather publicly clear that I had entirely lost any ability to manage simple math – I couldn’t calculate 44 days from the current date for a simple forecasting scenario, even using a calendar, and the calculator on my computer was beyond me (cognitively), at that moment. It could have been an embarassing moment – it wasn’t; I was frightened, and felt very vulnerable and insecure. The feelings passed, the concern did not. I’m sort of … following myself around observing myself in the background today, with concern and curiosity.

I write awhile. I retrieve my forgotten coffee. I change the playlist when I find myself feeling some borrowed emotion that doesn’t fit the circumstances of the day. And I wonder. I try to avoid worrying, but find myself thinking of things like “Flowers for Algernon”, and the neuroscience of cognition, and the progress on A.I., and how fragile this meat vessel really is, and how many people in my family have died of strokes… and my injury. Suddenly my fears become liquid and the tears are quietly slipping down my face, and I weep to face my mortality so starkly. 52 isn’t old. Neither am I a child. I carry enough damage to this fragile vessel from years of punishing circumstances, trauma, casual thoughtlessness, and mischance that I probably ought not expect it to be without consequence where longevity is concerned. It’s a good call to take care of myself if I earnestly want to stay around – but, realistically, so much of whether I stay around isn’t actually up to me in the moment, at all. Strokes do happen. Will I know, when the time comes? Will it be like some of the TIAs I’ve had, looking out through my eyes as windows, aware but unable to say – but for longer than a moment? What’s next? Will everything just… end?

I didn’t understand yesterday how profoundly affected I was in that moment, with a colleague, utterly unable to do the simplest math, looking up from my desk so helplessly – and asking for help. That was hard. I didn’t lose face, and the moment passed. I’m open about my issues, and learning to ask for help when I need it has had a lot of value. I’m frightened, though, and that’s harder to be open about. I let myself cry, and face the fear. I am okay right now. My coffee is hot, well-made, and tastes just right. The morning is a pleasant one. The music is all music I like very much. I live well, comfortably, and meet most of my day-to-day needs easily. I am human; emotions like fear and uncertainty are part of the experience. I guess I’m just not ready to go now, and the fear hits that yearning for more time – now that I seem to be sorting some things out. It’s a complicated feeling.  Tears and more tears, no sobbing or hysterics, just this momentarily ceaseless flow of tears, blurring my vision. And this fear. I have so much more love to give…

The tears slow, and eventually stop. My head aches from the crying… or…was the headache already there? I’m not sure this morning. This morning I lack certainty about a great many things. Will I see my traveling partner, or is he still sick? Will my housewarming later today be fun and relaxed, or will I mess with my head foolishly getting overly worked up over small things and stress myself out? Will I continue to find, over the course of the day, that other things ‘aren’t working’ as I expect them to, in my ability to think, to do math, to spell, to write,  to reason, to recall, to plan, to communicate, to feel…? Will I rise above the small challenges to engage this lovely moment, or find myself faltering and failing to find any secure emotional foothold? Will I take care of me, quite tenderly, and recognize that at any age being reminded of one’s mortality can be ‘a tough  moment’, or will I treat myself callously, with disregard, self-deprecation, and mockery? Will I “be okay”, or can I find sufficiency in being okay right now? I momentarily feel as though I might trade actual death from whatever nasty virus my traveling partner picked up for 15 minutes in his arms, feeling comforted, cared for, and alive. Fear sucks.

My playlist comes through for me in the most amazing way some times. My heavy heart starts lifting listening to Atmosphere remind me how human life is. I remember, again, that I am okay right now, and that – truly – there is nothing in this moment right here that warrants these tears. I start letting it go, and gently finding my way; mortality isn’t really something we can fight skillfully (yet) as human beings. I may not live to see us achieve near-immortality through the advances of science. I have ‘now’, and it can’t be taken from me. Today isn’t a bad one. The morning isn’t difficult. I didn’t sleep badly. My coffee didn’t disappoint me. I am not out in the cold, or without nutritious groceries in my pantry. I am not lacking in love. I don’t have to go into the office today. I am, in fact, okay right now. “All is well” is approximately accurate – at least as far as any details I can be clearly aware of in my own experience, myself, in this moment.

As suddenly as they came, the tears – and my fear and uncertainty – dissipate. I am okay, right now. It’s enough, isn’t it? 🙂

I clean my salt-spattered glasses, sip my remaining now cold coffee, and notice again the lovely morning ahead of me, requiring only that I take care of me, practice good practices, and live well and mindfully in this moment, on this day. Now.