Archives for posts with tag: it’s only pain

Sipping coffee and counting down the days to Giftmas. 🙂 I remind myself that the holiday season, and this life with my Traveling Partner, are by far more significant, more meaningful, and more valued than this physical pain I am in. My partner called me on it before I was half finished with my coffee. First thing on a Saturday morning, and I am so visibly obviously uncomfortable that I am uncomfortable to be around. Well, shit. I take my coffee with me on my way to my studio, consider my pain management choices on the way, and get to work on managing what I can manage, and letting go of what I can’t. My results may vary; I know to expect that, too.

…Good cup of coffee, though, and a pleasant Saturday morning on which to enjoy it. 🙂

I think about the upcoming holidays, and smile to myself. Winter Solstice, then Giftmas, then New Year’s Eve and day… then, it’s a whole new year unfolding ahead, and back to the grind. 🙂 No idea what the new year may hold. I didn’t expect this one, just now ending, held a pandemic – or a home purchase. Life is filled with surprises, unexpected turns, and assorted fortune (good and less so). Some eventualities will be very directly tied to my own choices and actions, others less obviously so. Sitting and waiting around for change is one possible choice… still a choice, and potentially less effective than grabbing life with both hands and making of it what we can. I suppose there is also some “personal style” involved in all that, as well. 🙂

…Mmm…Yeah. Great cup of coffee this morning, well-suited to reflecting on life. lol

I did scroll through the news earlier – fairly pointless on the average Saturday, unless there is some sort of major event some where in the world. All of the news seems to repeat yesterday’s talking points, retread and regurgitated, linked and quoted, by various other news services that perhaps now wish they’d thought of it first. Uninteresting. I’ve been making a practice of willfully rejecting headlines that seem crafted to stoke an emotional reaction prior to reading the article; it’s a clickbait practice, and I just don’t appreciate having my time wasted, or my emotions manipulated. I definitely read fewer news articles as a result. lol My time is better spent reflecting on my own life and choices. 🙂

I think over the day ahead. I’ve got one errand to run, a bit later, maybe I’ll also stop by the grocery store? I’ll tackle aquarium maintenance a little later, too. Tomorrow? Housekeeping. I know, it’s all very routine, simple, ordinary stuff. That’s what most lives are crafted of; ordinary moments, commonplace tasks, simple everyday acts and efforts. It took me too long to understand how very few individual lives are truly, spectacularly, exceptional or extraordinary in such a notable way that one would expect to read about it in the news. Most of us live very unexceptional lives – and that’s entirely okay. More important that we also live well, show kindness, consider others, care for the world and our community – and take care of ourselves and each other. Isn’t that enough? 🙂 Are any of us really so good at even that, that we ought be discontent and seeking more? I suspect I’m not alone in my awareness I could do more/better, often, even in these ordinary circumstances, within this ordinary life. It’s about the verbs. Our choices.

I sip my coffee, hearing the video my Traveling Partner is watching, in the background. The sound of it, the sound of his presence, brings me a sense of comfort… and joy…

And now I am hearing holiday carols in my head, too… LOL

What is “enough”? Do you have that? Have you defined it so that you can more easily make your way to that goal? Have you been so fortunate as to overshoot that mark, and find yourself living in some comfort? From where you are, right now, what can you do to help heal the world? What about your community? Are there simple things you can easily do, without undermining your own necessary resources, to lift someone else up? To ease suffering in the world? To give something back? ‘Tis the season… what will you do about that?

I finish my first coffee. I think about a second cup. I smile for a moment, feeling pretty okay generally. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. 🙂

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. 🙂

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. 🙂

I woke with difficulty this morning, and didn’t sleep well. I don’t hurt as much now as I did when I went to bed. The twinges of arthritis pain that begin the day are likely to be a sign of more pain, later on. It’s hard to be anything other than uncomfortable – just the physical discomfort itself, is uncomfortable, I mean. Kind of obvious, I know. It’s just that my mind, foggy with the struggle to fully wake up for the day, is focused on other things (if it can be said to be focused at all, just yet).

House hunting moves forward a step at a time. The work week continues. Lunch with a friend sometime this week. An evening with my Traveling Partner, maybe even tonight. Days. Days filled with moments. I remind myself to make a doctor’s appointment. Then I just go ahead and make it, online, rather than stalling still/again.

A fairly ordinary Tuesday begins here. A quiet morning like so many quiet mornings, a cup of coffee, a few minutes writing, some time for meditation, a few minutes tidying up before heading to the office… the days are days. What changes is my perspective, and my choices.

Today is a good day to begin again. I know there will be verbs involved. I know that I am having my own experience. With some practice, today is enough. 🙂

Thinking about the future. “Here it comes…“. It is a morning with a theme song. 🙂 It’s also 4:30 am. So… a theme song, and headphones. Again this morning I am thinking about the reality and the fantasy, considering options, considering needs, considering what it takes to take care of me, over time. What do I really need, versus what do I yearn for but can so easily do without? I continue to plan this next move, and in the planning I find my anxiety and stress about it greatly reduced.

I ended the evening last night in great pain. Yoga, physical therapy, acetaminophen, medical cannabis, a hot soak in Epsom salts, meditation… I did the things, it was still a struggle. I managed to avoid reaching for Rx pain relief, though, which is a win. I woke without much pain, in spite of the very rainy morning and the chill in the air. My calves ache from muscle cramps during the night, a weird new development along life’s journey. The thought distracts me with the idea of pain, and I find myself mentally listing all the things that hurt, or are uncomfortable, and before I know it – I’m completely immersed in the experience of pain, and actually hurt more than I did minutes ago. We really do create a lot of our experience with the power of our thoughts and our words.

I take a moment to breathe, relax, and let go of (at least the thought of) the pain. I set a reminder to call my doctor for an appointment to discuss changes in my health, and pain management in the coming winter months. What’s to be done about the neck fracture recently identified in X-rays and a CT scan? That’d be good to know…

Pain again? Damn it. I change the music to something more defiant. Sometimes it helps to tell pain to fuck right off. No bullshit. I have an entire playlist of music with big beats and great grooves that all basically tell someone, or something, to fuck right off with great enthusiasm. Some days defiance is what it takes to move past the pain. I remind myself to be very mindfully aware of the things that don’t hurt, and the moments I am not in pain – however brief. Soaking in those experiences, savoring them, appreciating them fully helps preserve the memory of not hurting, and improves my implicit experience – otherwise, over time, I’d slowly lose touch with having any experience other than pain. This morning, I teeter on the edge of pain; when I am not thinking about it, this morning, I don’t hurt nearly as much.

This morning is a good one for music and dancing, for yoga and another cup of coffee, for meditation (on a timer – it’s a work day!), and for taking care of me. On the other side of the work day… a quiet evening. In between: rain, meetings, spreadsheets, questions, an important task hand-off, deep-diving some puzzles, lunch, thoughts of love, a couple miles of walking, and a new look at a view of the city I love. Each day a new beginning, a step on a much longer journey to becoming the woman I most want to be.

Every day has its own qualities, its own joy, its own suffering. Begin again.

Every day has its own qualities, its own joy, its own suffering. Begin again.

Up at 4 am works for me; I don’t fight it. There’s time for coffee, time for words, time to change the tone of the morning, and regain the leisurely feel of the morning that I enjoy so well. Today is a good day to take care of this fragile vessel that serves me so well. Today is a good day to slow things down a little bit and enjoy the morning without rushing. Today is a good day to embrace what matters most: perspective, mindfulness, sufficiency – and love. 🙂

I woke during the wee hours of the night struggling with anxiety. It felt extreme, and compared to my state-of-being lately, I suppose it was. I struggled to return to sleep, dozing, and waking again later, still anxious. Meditation and managing my breathing would return me to sleep, briefly, only to wake again in this fog of tension, with this knot in the pit of my gut, and a diffuse feeling of dire… something. It was rather too literally dreadful.

I woke for the day still feeling it. I checked my heart-rate, my blood pressure; both high, which from a practical sense tells me nothing much; it is reasonable that my blood pressure and heart-rate would be high, feeling this anxious. What I don’t know is which is causal – the symptoms, or the anxiety? Knowing that it can go either way has been meaningful on past occasions, when it became clear at some point that my anxiety was a wholly physical experience, unrelated to any legitimate threat. This morning? No obvious “threat” anywhere…but there are some things I could predictably understand to be somewhat anxiety provoking; I’m not at work. What I if I made a mistake in an important log file, and some import failed? It’s a holiday. I am not available to resolve it. See? That could cause me to feel anxious. (New job – three-day weekend already? If I’m honest, that could do it, too.)

I was still turning over the anxiety puzzle in my thoughts when I headed to the kitchen to make coffee… and noticed my pain. Yep. This morning “an old friend” returns; I am in a lot of pain today.

It’s a lovely morning outside, autumn arriving, and no rain today – and although I’ve been hoping for some great hiking weather, this morning I’m fairly irked to find that the very hike-able morning arrives with a noteworthy amount of physical pain. I don’t allow myself to be surprised by it; my arthritis responds to changes in the weather, and the cooling temperatures over the autumn weeks are definitely associated with increased pain. So. What to do about it, though?

Pain makes my world smaller. I look out the window at the beauty of autumn, the changing colors of the trees on the other side of the park. I’d like to want to go hiking among the trees. What I want more is to hurt less. Anxiety? Maybe – it could be pain causing that, too. It’s been quite a while since I hurt this much, it’s no surprise to me that it would bring with it an emotional reaction, or that the reaction du jour would be anxiety. I sip my coffee, awake, aware, accepting that I am in pain (at least for now). The anxiety begins to diminish as I more fully acknowledge the pain I am in for myself.

Squirrel

One squirrel’s favorite breakfast spot.

The morning is too choice not to at least go for a short walk, new camera (phone) in hand… I swear softly under my breath when I turn to get a better look at a squirrel enjoying a bite of breakfast from a handy vantage point in a nearby tree. We often watch each other just this way – I like to think it is the same squirrel every time, but honestly, we’ve not met formally, and I can’t say for sure. Turning to move, the pain catches me by surprise again; I’ve forgotten how it limits my range of motion. I remind myself how much more important my morning yoga just became; starting the day any other way just prolongs the worst of the pain. I remind myself, too, to fully appreciate how much less pain I’ve been in, generally, over the past many weeks that this is so startlingly suck-tastic today. (Failing to do so results in less awareness of pain-free moments, and develops a strong implicit bias that suggests I am “always” in pain, which tends to become quite uncomfortably true, over time. )

A lovely morning for a journey.

A lovely autumn morning suitable for walking waits on the other side of all this pain.

I begin laying out the practices mentally… a hot shower, yoga, a healthy lean breakfast, physical therapy stuff, a walk in the park – at least 2 miles if I can manage it – but what to do about the pain? My brain refuses to give up on the pain, urgently wanting a magic bullet, an easy fix, something to be done right now. It has become the focus of the moment. I realize that it has tainted even my writing, and become my everything, for now. Unpleasant, and uncomfortable. I’m irritated with the pain, and no longer anxious. It’s just… verbs. The verbs are required or the pain will most surely persist as it is. Appropriate application of the most useful verbs will ease the pain a lot – there is no assurance that it will be completely “fixed”, although it will eventually ease enough to become inconsequential, with fair certainty. I’ve got to do the verbs, though… I hurt, even thinking about it.

Well, shit… Today is a good day to do the verbs. Today is a good day to take action and make change happen. Today is a good day to remember “this too shall pass” and “it could be much worse”. Today is a good day to take care of this fragile vessel. Some days the journey is by steps, not by miles. 🙂