Archives for posts with tag: making a list

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. 🙂 No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. 🙂

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

I am sipping my coffee, feeling well-rested, and contemplating the weeks ahead. I’ve got a couple weekends here at home, and a rather lengthy list of “shit to get done” – mostly stuff that’s fallen a bit behind because I spend so many weekends away, these days. It’s basic housekeeping stuff: a handful of “still haven’t finished moving in” sorts of things, some common enough household repairs I can easily handle myself, and some overdue errands… real life, in list form. The list has grown long.

I’ve been enjoying life, without regret, and without allowing the list to get in the way. It’s all stuff that does need to get done, though. I’ve got a couple weekends ahead with which to do it (I am clearly not getting much of it done in the evenings after work). I find myself thinking sternly that it is time to find a proper balance between relaxing and finding chill space, contentment, and a drama free zone… and getting shit done. lol

I listen to the birds singing as day begins to break on the slim slice of horizon I see beyond my studio window. Physical limitations are hard to argue with. Cognitive limitations are hard to argue with. Shit still needs to get done. Every. Damned. Day. It’s only Wednesday morning, but since I returned home Sunday afternoon, I’ve managed to use every glass in the place – and I know this, because they are all neatly lined up on the kitchen counter, above the dishwasher, which is full of clean dishes that need to be put away (from Thursday morning)… except glasses, which I have removed from the dishwasher one by one, to use, then placed neatly on the counter. Omg – am I fucking kidding me??? Not okay. lol

I breathe. Relax. Feel my shoulders drop back down where they belong, after having crept upwards with tension, as I considered the dishes that desperately want doing. I dislike dirty dishes on this whole other “I will have a motherfucking breakdown if this shit does not change!!” sort of level – it’s been an issue for many years. Doesn’t matter that it’s me leaving the mess behind (that may make it matter more, actually) – it just needs to be handled. So human. I don’t think that is really going to change.

I smile and turn the page on my lengthy list of things to get done; it’s grown quite long over weeks and months, and it has become a source of frustration more than a list. So. I turn the page, and I begin again. A literal new list, a list for right now, and that lists some low-hanging fruit, and things that matter most. A list for evenings after work, leading up to this next, one, weekend. Only that. This is a less daunting list, already, and I find myself rather strangely already more motivated to get started.

…I can do the dishes before I head to the office this morning.

It’s time to begin again.

I’d been growing progressively more irked with myself over my lack of motivation in the evenings, after long, busy, cognitively complex work days dense with new information. By the time I got home each evening this week I just… couldn’t. Not even. Not at all. So… I didn’t. Mostly.

Last night I happened to arrive home and sit down at the computer to alert my Traveling Partner I was safely home for the evening, feeling a little low for no reason I could pinpoint. The phone rang unexpectedly – my partner calling me, spontaneous, out of the blue, no agenda; he was on his lunch break from work. It was good to hear his voice, and I felt considerably “lifted up” by it.

The called ended just as a recently-discovered-favorite DJ began a live set on Facebook. Yay!! I said a silent thank you for Chromecast technology as I cast it to the stereo. The hour passed so quickly, and with so much energy! I spent that hour dancing, and chatting with friends who had noticed the share on Facebook and also checked him out. Even my sister – which surprised me, and made me smile so hard my face hurt. It felt connected, shared, and it was fun.

I must have really needed some wholesome shared fun with friends. I mean, like, a lot. 😀 I’m still smiling.

When the live stream ended, my energy didn’t. With a smile and no sense of fatigue I tackled a bunch of small shit from my to do list that had been silently mocking me. (Take that, housework!!) I went to bed still feeling mildly burdened by “all the shit I’ve got to get done before I head out for the weekend” and a little anxious about it.

I woke this morning still carrying that around with me, and annoyed by swollen eyes and stuffy sinuses (hoping, hoping, hoping that I do not wake up actually ill tomorrow – I’ll be so fucking pissed off if I do). I sat down with my coffee, and a willingness to begin again, and decided to take on my anxiety-driving concern head-on; too much to do? Let’s see about that, I thought to myself, and opened my task list.

I made a short list of things my Traveling Partner asked me to bring down for him. I made a short list of the things I wanted to get done, because I don’t want to come home to having to do them. Neither list was actually all that bothersome. Totally doable to complete them in an evening. Is all this stress really to do with work? Could be; there’s a lot going on, and more than typical performance pressure. I take a deep breath and let it all go, queue up some music (the track linked above, actually), and sip my coffee feeling less pressure, less anxiety, and a reduced sense of urgency. I open up my blog, and start writing. Much better.

Perfection? Nah. Just perspective. It matters. Do I have a lot to get done tonight? Not as much as it felt like in the abstract. I just had to take a step back, get it on paper, and consider it differently, and (for me) in a more organized way. It’s where the work-related anxiety comes from too; I work in a distraction-rich environment that results in constant interruptions of work processes that benefit from not being interrupted. lol I need to take more breaks – that don’t become interruptions of their own, by taking those breaks as moments of quiet, without actually pumping even more information into my brain (which actually needs a proper break). I commit to treating myself better in the office, and make a second coffee. 🙂

It’s already time to begin again…

This week I begin working in earnest to rebuild the habits and routines that support my quality of life best. I spent some time last night rebuilding long forgotten “to do lists” and thinking over morning tasks versus evening tasks. I’d been letting myself “get away with” rather a lot of “letting that go for later” toward the end of my stay at #59. Still… yesterday’s mail came with some good news; I got my deposit back, in full. That’s a nice feeling, and a reminder that good self-care is often also good care of the environment in which I live. (There’s probably a larger message there…)

So, I spent some time cozied up with a digital “to do list” I am trying out. By the end of the evening, I’m a little astonished by the amount of “small work” I expect to get done in a day… every day… Seriously? It would be daunting, only… I generally do all that. lol Getting it down in an organized list may reduce the time it takes, by putting in a more sensible order. I like order. 🙂

My day started well, and I know that attributing that to having well-prepared lists of things to do doesn’t really make any sense; there’s no legitimate connection. I just feel good this morning. Prepared. That feels good. I’m okay with enjoying it as it is. There are so many little things I want very specifically to do each day, reliably. Building those habits that nurture good emotional wellness and quality of life takes a hearty helping of verbs, and continued reinforcement. It’s really easy to shrug something off one morning, let it slide, then… it becomes another morning, then continues until the habit isn’t just broken, but well and truly defeated. Pretty commonplace as challenges go. I also fight off having long-time habits simple extinguish themselves rather without any warning at all – as though it was never a habit at all. This is both frustrating and unpredictable. Having a good “to do list” helps with that a lot.

Why go digital when after all this time I keep returning to ordinary yellow legal pads for this sort of thing? I admit, I have my doubts about digital lists, but… there’s a built-in inefficiency involved in having to return to the legal pad, wherever I’ve put it down, again and again to check off something completed, or add something overlooked. I’ve tried digital lists many times: spreadsheets, notepad, specific list making apps, and time and again they have failed me mostly by not being quite the tool for the job in one way or another. Back the legal pad I’d go. So, this time I am trying out a digital to do list that really is that, and will sync across my devices (no going back to the legal pad on the other side of the house, or having to wait until I get home to check off things I’ve done outside the house). We’ll see.

I smile and sip my coffee, listening to a small brown bird offering early morning commentary on the imminent sunrise. I may be back to the yellow legal pad at some point. I’m not concerned with that, as a thing. It represents neither a success nor a failure. I notice my list reminds me to check account balances – it will remind me to do so, daily. Nice. I do that. I check it off the list. 🙂

Sometimes figuring things out takes some effort, some practice, some fails, some changes – all completely utterly normal and part of how we learn and problem solve. 🙂

Problem-solving, and practice. Incremental improvement over time. There are verbs involved.

With managing the small details, sometimes a list is helpful. Sometimes it is still necessary to begin again. 🙂 It’s time to go do that; I’ve got a list. 😀

Sometimes, being heard seems to be a study in actually listening, myself. Sometimes it is about speaking more clearly, more simply, or more explicitly. Sometimes being heard is about being the person listening most carefully to my own heart, my own voice; when I am “unable to hear myself think”, this is a real experience of being unable to hear myself. Sometimes, I am so attentive to the matter of “being heard”, myself, that I overlook the urgent importance of listening deeply. Thoughts over coffee.

The breeze from over the marsh and meadow is scented with flowers and although I have headphones on, as if listening to music, somehow I haven’t yet gotten as far as turning any on. lol It doesn’t matter. This morning, I am busy keeping track of other details – like the precise moment I can start that one load of laundry I need to do before I depart to meet my Traveling Partner at the designated rally point before a final gear check, and departure. Being late would be beyond rude; it would throw off plans and timing for other people, too. I’d like to avoid that. I’m good at deployment. I’ve had a lot of practice. 🙂

There’s a certain uncomfortable free fall in letting other people handle planning. I’m really good at it, and have learned over the years to uphold a high level of self-reliance, generally. It’s not explicitly stated, so I’ll out myself now; I am not so skilled at, or comfortable with, letting go and allowing someone else to plan and lead. So, this weekend – adventure, love, and all – is a complicated bit of life’s curriculum – advanced coursework, even. This weekend I learn to manage my anxiety around loosening my grip on the details, and allowing other decision-makers, other planners, other leaders, to step to the forefront, call the shots, and let the fun of our time together be truly collaborative. Wow. I break out in a literal sweat thinking about it, and I feel my core tighten a bit with anticipated anxiety (which is like, the dumbest and most annoying anxiety, ever).

I didn’t end up, in prior relationships, overburdened with planning and managing life events, travel, and adventure, because no one else was willing to adopt mannerisms indicating they might handle it – it was more because, at least at the outset, I simply couldn’t allow it. I had to have the control. Not knowing all the details of everything could really freak me out. I had to have things done “right” – admitting, even as I type the words, that my notion of “doing it right” was every bit as subjective and centered on my own thinking as anyone else’s would be. Of course, if I offered to do all of the things, the answer would be a relieved “yes” and we all moved on to our chosen roles. The resentment over time was just “a free service I offered” or… an unrequested… enhancement. LOL

I’m okay with learning another way. It’s been a really long time since I participated in an event of this sort – I have no idea what to expect, neither from the event, nor, frankly, from myself. I don’t even know what I want, beyond spending time chilling with my Traveling Partner, making memories. This could be an amazing shared experience…I have to be willing to allow it to be. (I am.) I have an opportunity to connect really closely with my Traveling Partner for a few days, and an opportunity to listen. (Which is, frankly, both more difficult and more important than talking.) Being heard feels really good. Like happiness, it somehow tends to skitter just out of reach if I chase it. On the other hand, in building the skills I need to listen deeply to others, to listen non-judgmentally, to really hear what someone else is saying – to meet that need to be heard for another – I bring profound new opportunities for intimacy and connection into my experience… that results in greater potential for being heard, myself. It’s my plan to practice listening more than talking, this weekend. There is much I do not know, and I won’t learn it by talking continuously. 😀

I heard my Traveling Partner last night – he communicated concern about his own readiness, and mine, and things he hadn’t thought of, and although he didn’t use simple frank language to get those points across, because I was listening deeply it was not so necessary that he communicate completely clearly. It was late. We were both tired. It would be very human and common and understandable if drama had broken out, or strong emotion, or missed understanding – instead, I listened. If I didn’t “get it”, I asked a direct question, no baggage. We narrowed down needs, wants, and expectations very quickly in this way, and my developing anxiety around letting go of control of all the details and all the knowledge quickly gave way to feeling prepared, content, and… ready for bed. lol

Assuming positive intent is a big help. Not taking things personally is a great approach, too. Understanding we are each having our own experience is also definitely an important tool in the emotional intelligence toolbox. Avoiding contradicting or disagreeing with people’s emotions is something I find useful as well (there’s just no disagreeing with emotion, people – those are facts of their own sort, and very subjective). So… here I go. It’s nearly time to load the car (my dining room is currently my “staging area” and everything is ready but the laundry), to do that one load of laundry, to meet my Traveling Partner, check gear and if necessary make a pass by an appropriate retailer for missed this-or-that we ought not do without (totally necessary; I’ve already made a list)… then… the journey. A destination. A weekend. Love.

54 and still daydreaming about love. 🙂

…The Love part is my favorite. 😀

It’s time to begin, again. See you on Monday.