Archives for posts with tag: making a list

My coffee is a memory. By the time I got to actually drinking it, it was already rather tepid. It lingers, cold, and bitter, in my recollection. My day is off to a rather poor start for no good reason. At some point, the quality of my experience becomes up to me…

I reflect on things quietly, thinking perhaps I’ll gain perspective through writing, then find myself stalled, unwilling to tackle the “harder questions” this morning, in spite of knowing they would do well to be asked, and where possible, answered. Instead, I make an ambitious list of household chores and resolve to complete those. It’s easier.  Today is, in most respects, an ordinary enough Sunday.

…Order from chaos… sometimes I find it helps with other challenges troubling me in the background…It helps to have a list.

Same view, different day. Perspective matters, but we each have to walk our own hard mile.

I remind myself to make room for other perspectives, to listen deeply, to be open to change…

A slight change in point of view can make a difference in understanding our circumstances.

…I wander off to get started on my list. Another new beginning… the day may improve, if I can stay open to that potential. I can always begin again…

…Sometimes this shit is hard. Seems so, I mean. Subjectively. I remind myself “one practice at a time, one step at a time, one task at a time; it all adds up”… I feel unconvinced and blue. Some days suck. I make a mental note that change is – even the most miserable moment is just a moment, and it’ll pass. I have choices. I have practices that I know I can count on to be uplifting. Yeah, not super convincing that time, either. I’ll “get over it” and “move past this”. For now, this is the experience I seem to be having. I try not to take it personally, and stay with both this actual moment, and these feelings; the moment, which is frankly fine, is my anchor, my point of “safety” that gives me a firm foundation to consider the feelings without becoming mired in them (that’s the intention, anyway). I’m okay right now. That’s real. The emotions are emotions. I make a point to refrain from conflating the feelings with actual experiences.

…I make a point to consider the experience separately from the emotions I feel during or about the experience, itself…

…Uncomfortable or unpleasant experiences are something I can learn and grow from. Fighting that isn’t particularly helpful. Getting mired in unresolved emotions isn’t particularly helpful (or comfortable) either. I take a breath and turn towards my discomfort, seeking growth… and begin again, again. I eye my “baggage” and personal demons with some distaste and impatience, and snarl to myself “bitches, I can do this “begin again” shit all fucking day, just go ahead and fucking bring it“. That at least gets a laugh out of me.

I check my list, and yeah, I even check it twice. There’s more to do… and it all begins with a beginning.

Yesterday was sort of hard. Weirdly so. A bit as if I had sand in my consciousness; I felt sort of “rubbed raw”, cognitively. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Aggravating. Those words describe my experience, and also describe my sense of myself, pretty much all day. It wasn’t fun, and more than frustrating; there was not any clear reason to feel the way I did. My outlook for much of the day was “just don’t”. I felt a little aggressive, a little prone toward anger, and getting past, through, or around it was the entire day’s challenge.

…Eventually, it “worked itself out”. Sometime past the end of the work day, I “got my head right”, and enjoyed a pleasant, quiet evening with my Traveling Partner. I sip my coffee, this morning, and silently acknowledge the difficulties the day had presented. Then, I let all that go. It was yesterday. New day ahead of me. I woke early, but this coffee is good, and this room is more tidy than yesterday. Comfortable. A bit chilly, and I’m okay with that. It’s not an unpleasant feeling. Another day, another chance to begin again.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Time spent on meditation feels well-spent.

I look over my “to do list”, and also review the “done” list that sits below it on my desktop as a “sticky note”. “Celebrate the Achievements!”, it says at the top. I’ve gotten a lot of little stuff done, and a handful of bigger projects are completed or in progress. Productive. 🙂 I allow myself a moment to feel pleased about that. I catch myself yawning, and glance at the time. Time passes so quickly, sometimes. The work day ahead is already about to begin…

I finish my first cup of coffee, ready to begin again. 🙂 Tomorrow? Already behind me. Today? Still ahead. It’s a good moment for beginnings.

I’m currently playing Portal. It’s not a new game. I’m likely the wrong person to ask whether it is a “hard” game. It hasn’t been especially frustrating, which I had worried about before I started. I’m enjoying the experience of playing it, which feels good. I admit, I’m currently stuck on a level, but honestly, I’m okay with that. I’ll get it figured out. 🙂 I keep at it. Nothing screams “restart” like being stuck on a particular challenge in a video game. Good news; life works this way, too. Stuck? Start over. Begin again. Take another approach. Try again. Give it a rest and come back to it later. 🙂

The worrying about the challenge was a bigger challenge that the challenge itself. There’s a lesson in that. lol

Video games are another rich source of living metaphors, for me. I enjoy that, too.

Fish swim in the “big” aquarium (size being very relative; it’s only 30 gallons). Shrimp scuttle about in their smaller aquatic habitat. My betta slowly recovers from recently jumping out of the aquarium; it’ll be weeks before he’s “well”, I suspect, but he’s doing okay. I hand feed him each day. He seems to welcome that. The world beyond these walls continues to make its way around the sun. The world continues to figure itself out in this time of pandemic. People continue to both disappoint me mightily, and also to impress me beyond expectations with their humanity, compassion, and will to do more/better. Life at home is still a puzzling mix of “how is this any different at all?” and “wtf – why this? why now?” My partner and I enjoy the opportunity to share experiences, projects, conversation, and to explore topics of shared interest more deeply. We help each other. We’re both in acceptably good health, enduring little more than routine middle-age-y sorts of concerns. We’ve got a lot to be grateful for.

I slept in this morning. My coffee is good. Yoga in the morning as the sun began to rise. It felt good to move and to stretch. Later today, I have an errand to run out in the world. I no longer look forward to such things, I just prepare myself, and get them done, and quickly return home. Meditation felt joyful and effortless this morning; the world seemed to be sleeping, and all was quiet. The news is too bleak and weird, lately, to bother with on a pleasant Sunday morning. Instead I sit down to write, and end up sipping coffee and watching fish swim for some while, instead. I’m okay with that.

…In general, “in real life”, I’m okay, generally. 😉 I hope you are, too.

I look around my studio… there’s much to do, to achieve the state of order I feel most comfortable within. My eye falls on my “to do list”… I add a couple things. I sip my coffee. I think about the day ahead, and find my mind wandering. I breathe deeply. Exhale. Relax. I pull myself back to this moment – it’s a lovely one, worth enjoying. There is no need at all to complicate it beyond what it is, right now. I glance at the aquarium next to my computer tower. I know what I’m going for, with this day; “calm waters”. A “steady state” of contentment and ease. No “waves”. No “strong current”. Just this moment, right now, and a state of gentle, slow, flow. 🙂 Achievable. With practice.

I smile into my empty coffee mug. It’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and making a list of things I want to get done this week. Tasks large and small make it to the list. I leave off those tasks that I easily and reliably remember to do. The list is a smattering of things my Traveling Partner asked me to take care of, the bulk of this list is tasks I want to get done, myself. Some of the things on my list could be considered “self-care” of some kind, others are basic housekeeping tasks that I’m not fond of. Writing that last sentence reminds me of yet another of those; I add it to the list. The list is not in any particular order. The list is not some kind of free-will depleting dictator or petty time-management despot. It’s just a list. The needs, and the list, are mine.

…I could ignore all of it, if I chose to…

No urgency this morning, just a quiet Wednesday morning in the time of pandemic. Restless human primates grow more restless the longer they are asked to practice self-isolation and social distancing. Grown human beings start throwing loosely organized tantrums because saving humanity may require some effort or impose some inconvenience on them, personally. It’s fairly comical, if viewed with some emotional distance. I’m stunned by how many “working class” Americans “drink the poison” offered to them by the business community and leisure class, though; the cries to be permitted to get back to normal are profit driven, in the background, and not tied to the real concerns about controlling the spread of this deadly pandemic. No, the economy (and profits of major businesses, and shareholders) does not matter more than human life. It just doesn’t. We may not yet be “grown up enough” to understand the value of life; we’re busy chasing shiny things.

I’m in a cheerful mood this morning. I am “not ready” for the day ahead, though. I hurt. It’s just physical pain. Yoga helps. Not enough, but some. I think this cup of coffee helps as much. lol I sip my coffee contentedly. No shot at boredom today; once work is over, I’ve got this list. 🙂 Any moment of boredom, however brief, brings me to the list. I do a task, I check it off. I feel like I’ve gotten something needful done. It’s enough. It keeps me busy and organized.

I finish my coffee feeling fairly grateful for the situation in which I find myself. I’m in a good partnership, sharing the national lockdown with a human being I truly adore, and whose love for me is apparent, every day. Reading the news, I find myself wondering how significant the spike in divorces will be following the return to “business as usual”? How big will the baby boom in December and January be? How difficult will it be to get workers who appreciate and enjoy working from home to return to their offices? How will the business and retail landscape change? How will K-12 students fare next year, and later on, compared to kids whose educations were not interrupted by a pandemic? What about college and trade school students whose educations were “finished” early to get them into the workforce to help out do compared to colleagues who got the full measure of their planned education, as time goes on? What will the long-term impacts actually be?

I swallow the last of my now-cold coffee. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

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.