Archives for posts with tag: ptsd

Inspiration is a funny thing. I am occasionally frustrated when Inspiration strikes, and I am “trapped” at work, or in life, in circumstances that undermine the moment from one of great power and motivation to something more like a cognitive itch I can’t scratch. Timing matters. Time matters. Location matters. Available resources with which to work – that matters, too. Any one element being a bit off, or out of reach, and the whole moment degrades, slips away, fades before I can dive into that delicious drenching sea for a quick swim, before inevitably returning to the sometimes tedious shores of a more staid reliably productive wholly limited reality.

Having a studio at home as been awesome, and exploring what that can be like definitely changed my approach to my living arrangements. Making a point to live in spaces in which I can have dedicated creative space has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with location from any of my relationships. That’s been wonderful. Managing my professional life (outside of art) such that I reliably have the resources to keep art supplies well-stocked has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with available resources. Β The only significant struggle that remains is to do with time, and timing.

I’m smiling this morning, and feeling fortunate that I’d already planned a long weekend for the equinox. When inspiration struck me with force, it was easy enough to roll with it, change my plans from coastal camping to a stay-cation in the studio, and happily move on with things. πŸ™‚ I arrived home yesterday and happily flipped an imagined “artist at work” sign in my head, made a coffee – because I’ve got 3+ days to play with, and no requirement to adhere to any particular routine unless I choose to do so, and no concern about late nights. Sometime after my 5th coffee of the day (and a bit past 4 pm) I admitted I’d probably had enough coffee. lol In the meantime, I had stepped into my studio, looked around, and agreed with my inner artist that a different arrangement of space, gear, and furnishings would be helpful…

…Somehow, I spent the evening rather energetically (hello 5 cups of coffee!!) “moving in more”, moving stored paintings around, discovering there were just too damned many stacked that I’d intended to be hanging, which lead to hanging more paintings (everywhere). I moved on to “those art cabinets are sort of in the way right there… which lead to moving furniture around. I got to that skinny box by the wall, and went ahead and finished setting up my workstation by putting the big desk monitor in its obvious place – on my desk. One by one, stacks of paintings, boxes of art supplies that had been “left for later”, art cabinets, supplies, blank canvases, books, gear, drop cloths… everything began to “sort itself out” (with my help, obviously – because no one is doing this shit for me!). By 7 pm, I was pretty much stalled. Finished. Done for the day. Not exactly tired, I remember thinking, but more just needing a bit of a break to consider next steps – with every intention of turning on appropriate lights and doing some “dark work” in glow colors.

Coffee or no coffee; I crashed at 8:30 pm, and slept deeply through the night. I woke briefly around 4 am, took my morning medication, peed, and went straight back to bed, and slept another 3 hours. It isn’t common for me to sleep so well, so deeply, or for so many hours. 11 hours of sleep? Brain-tired from an intense, however short, work week. I get it. It makes sense. I’m glad I didn’t make any attempt to force a routine on myself; I obviously needed the rest. πŸ™‚

This morning feels fresh and new and filled with wonder, color, music… and yeah, more coffee. LOL No idea what “next” looks like, yet. I linger over my coffee and my words; there’s no need to rush. This is a moment which is not enhanced by attempts at efficiency. Totally okay with that. The woman in the mirror is a different creature when she’s painting than when she’s 9-to-5-ing. I roll with the change happily, feeling transformed into some more natural state of being, relishing the freedom to be wholly myself, utterly without limitations or restrictions besides those I place on myself. Feels good. I let my soul stretch just as I would let myself stretch my body after a long time in one position; comfortable or uncomfortable, remaining in one position too long generally results in needing a good stretch, yeah? Same for my artist’s soul, I suppose. I feel my heart and my emotions reaching outside the day-to-day limitations of what is comfortable to display in public. Freedom to feel more, to explore myself more, to fully be. My home, my rules, my way. I look around my studio with a smile, and remind the world beyond “you don’t tell me“.

Maybe I write more this weekend. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I get all the sleep I need. Maybe I’m up all night painting. Maybe I paint a ton of tiny paintings. Maybe I work on just one canvas. Maybe I choose. Maybe I let Inspiration lead me gently. Maybe the work unfolds precisely as I envision it. Maybe everything I do ends up entirely different than I expected. Maybe all the housekeeping also gets done. Maybe the weekend ends with dishes in the sink.

That’s a lot of maybes. I’m sure about the coffee. LOL The rest? I’ll let you know on the other side of this vast Sea of Inspiration. It’s time to go for a swim. πŸ™‚

So, training on a new tool ended yesterday, in the sense that the trainer has left the building to return to her regular day-to-day experience elsewhere. My work week ends in a handful of hours after one meeting. It would be so easy to give myself a moment of self-congratulatory joy, celebrate an achievement, and be done with that… but… that isn’t how new knowledge (or new practices) actually work. The learning is a beginning, only. Then come the verbs. The practice. The repetition. The iterations of improvement over time. The learning curve. Skill building. Improvements. Refinements. Enhancements. Efficiency building. It’s even a cycle. Each new thing learned, practiced, and “mastered” leads to yet another new thing learned, which must be practiced, and mastered, which leads… yeah. So.

Weekends are also a thing. I’ve got a lovely long one ahead of me. I’d planned to spend the Autumnal Equinox on the coast, but this training week was important (remains important, it is simply now in the past), enough to cut a couple hours out of my planned time, resulting in a change in plan. Truly, though, what canceled my trip to the coast was a splash of inspiration urging me into the studio, which… yeah. That comes first whenever I can make it so. πŸ˜€

Beginnings and endings, and an unfinished self-portrait waiting to be completed.

I sip my coffee content with this moment. Eager to return home to my weekend. Eager to linger at leisure at the edge of the rainy day deck garden with a coffee too late in the day, unconcerned because the day of leisure will be followed by another. I am even eager to throw routine out the window, to stay up late in defiance of healthy sleep practices, to sleep in on a “work day” (helloooo, Friday morning, I’m looking your way!), to play the stereo loud, to be – without looking at the clock. Just anticipating the delicious leisure moments ahead, I feel myself relax. I need this. πŸ™‚

I’m pretty good at routines. I’m less skillful about breaking them. It’s not generally wise, but sometimes I do learn best from my challenges when I explore them, gently. Am I ready for some chaos? I’d better be…

…Anyway… I can always begin again. πŸ˜‰

A quiet rainy morning begins gently. My arthritis pain has flared up, because, of course it has. No arguing with rainy days, chilly nights, or autumn, generally. Summer is fading fast.

My coffee is very tasty. I enjoy having the espresso machine up and running.

Work seems to be proceeding in a pleasantly routine way, in spite of spending the majority of my short week in training. That bit, by itself, is fairly stimulating, almost exciting. There’s something about learning new things that are useful that “wakes me up” in some way that is just a bit beyond the usual.

Not a fucking thing about this morning is “ultimate”, “epic”, “amazing”, “tragic” – or any other adjectival excess. Life is far less commonly extraordinary than it is quite routine and average, although a quick glance at the morning headlines would lead one to expect quite the opposite is the case. I frown at the screen in front of me, resenting the constant “advertising” and manipulation. I turn that on myself with no ill-intent; I use a lot of fucking adjectives, myself. πŸ˜‰ Perspective? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe consumers burnt out on hyperbole are hard to market ideas, goods, and services to, or harder to engage, generally? (Myself, I use adjectives primarily because 1. I naturally use them when I talk about things, and 2. I’m trying to communicate the contents of my thoughts to someone who can’t share those directly in pictures, or emotions.) (I do over use them like crazy, I’m not unaware of it. It is about sharing, rather than persuasion.)

I let my consciousness move on.

I woke to the alarm, this morning. Once I reached the kitchen to make coffee some minutes later, I was irked to note I’d left dishes in the sink. Not okay (with me – Β your needs, and results, may vary). Well shit. Clearly not “epic”. 😦 Nor is it “the ultimate” anything at all. It’s also not “a colossal disappointment” – I’m just mildly annoyed with myself for having let them go until morning because, well, I hate that messy shit, specifically with regard to dishes in the sink. It’s to do with me, and what I value and appreciate for quality of life. I can do better for me. I sigh quietly in the morning chill, and promise myself coffee once the dishes are done. I feel grateful that I had turned on the heat after returning home to rainy autumn weather, Sunday evening. It is in all respects a fairly ordinary morning. I’m disproportionately pleased with that as the day begins; it’s enough.

I sip my coffee. An Americano this morning. I listen to the rain fall and the “ssssshhhh ssssshhhh” of cars passing by on the street. Busy street at some times of day, busier than I’d like. No kidding; I’d love to have some acreage to get sufficient distance from all the goings on of my fellow human beings to hear only bird song, breezes, and the sound a leaf makes when it hits the ground. lol That’s not going to happen here. I love this little house, and I am content, but it can’t be described accurately as “quiet”. It is not. The moments themselves are somehow quieter than the environment ever is, generally. The quiet I do find is the sort that is cultivated within. For now, and most of the time, this is enough.

I look at the clock. It’s still dark outside. Nonetheless, I decide to get on with things. It’s not “epic” timing, it’s not “the ultimate moment”, it’s not “an awesome opportunity”, and I’m not expecting an “amazing experience” – but it is an adequate moment to begin again. πŸ™‚ That’s enough.

Yesterday got off to a great start, and finished, rather literally, with a bang. Well, more of a crash. I got tail-ended in rush hour traffic. No “lol”, no emoji, no minimizing, no catastrophizing; I got hit from behind by an inattentive driver while I was stopped, with sufficient force to leave an impression of her license plate frame in my bumper. It wasn’t what I planned for the evening, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but it is a thing. It occurred.

I’m okay.

It was a generally weird day that stands out a bit in a sort of “report card” fashion, because quite frankly an ever-loving-shit-ton of stuff (all super strange oddball outliers of events and circumstances) went peculiarly sideways yesterday, a lot of it rather inconsequential, some of it to do with money, all of it touching on the sorts of things that would have grievously triggered me even a year ago. I’d have been emotionally incapacitated, flooded, and completely overwhelmed by a day like yesterday. It most likely would have sent me crashing into a period of learned helplessness and despair that could last weeks, punctuated by reactive relief-seeking acting-out that wouldn’t have helped at all, probably made things much worse.

This morning, I am relaxed after a good night’s sleep. I feel pretty comfortable physically. I’m still on for my trip down to see my Traveling Partner, and don’t seem to be dealing with any significant after-effects of yesterday’s experiences. Things seem quite fine, actually. As though yesterday were entirely separate from today in every way, other than being adjacent to one another on a calendar page. So. Apparently it is possible to “enjoy” a day of utter chaos, with some destruction and loss, and yet somehow not go to pieces, not melt down, not lay waste to whatever is left to hold on to… It’s possible to do a bit better than merely survive what is uncomfortable, chaotic, and destructive. That’s some good news right there. πŸ™‚

I got hit hard enough that I felt light-headed and strange when I got out of the car. Wobbly. Worried about my back, my neck, my head – the other driver. Late into the evening I continued to wonder if the persisting headache was from being struck, or just another persisting headache like so many? This morning – no headache. That’s enough. I slept well, and I feel comfortably able to get back in the car and drive down the highway. Road trip!

Today feels like a good day for beginnings. I find myself hoping this particular day includes a big reduction in the quantity of weird shit going on compared to yesterday. lol Yesterday was a bit much to take, and I’d started to feel a bit.. hexed. Still… wow. How much more well-prepared for living life am I, that yesterday didn’t destroy me? Didn’t even blow me off course! That’s… yeah. Wow. I gotta stop celebrating at some point, though; it is far to easy (for me) to let a moment of celebration become a careless presumption that I am “entirely well” or in a place where I “don’t even have to worry about any of that”, and I lose myself in a quagmire of poor decision-making and frivolous use of resources, and find myself both accountable, and unprepared to care for myself. Like a kid taking the training wheels off their bike for the first time, then falling on their ass. I’d like to avoid that fall.

I find it best to have my moment, enjoy recognizing the progress I have made, and return fairly quickly to practicing the practices that support my wellness over time, and that meet longer term needs, and keep me on a path that supports my goals. πŸ™‚

So, this morning I begin again. Again. I make choices. I get up gently when the alarm goes off. Yoga. Strength training. A leisurely shower. I check my list and begin doing the small things I’d want done before I return home: top off the aquarium, make the bed, tidy up a few things, drop my kindle in the side pocket of my bug out bag. I look around before I sit down with my coffee to write a few words before the weekend really gets going; is this the home I want to come home to? Will I feel “welcomed” when I return? Will I be comfortably able to just walk in, set down my bag, and chill? Satisfied that I have met the needs of a future me (only days into the future, but you know, we haven’t met, yet, and I do want her to be welcome when she gets home) I relax and make an Americano.

I sip my coffee contentedly. I take a few minutes to check in with friends. I smile thinking about a moment in the office, yesterday. I’d seen a colleague looking a little… well, we’re both veterans, and he had that look of being “stuck in a different moment” and avoided eye contact. I reached out over our messaging service a little later and just asked him how he was doing? He said “I’m good”. I wasn’t sure I believed that, but it’s not necessarily helpful to pry people open like clam shells. I replied “Awesome. Big plans for the weekend?” He sent me an emoji back and commented “That’s a solid buddy check right there. I had a moment, earlier. I’m okay now” and proceeded to tell me about his upcoming plans. We shared a bit. Turned out I felt the need for some support too, but it was less obvious to me that it was to him. The power of connection. The power of relationships and shared experience. That interaction was one high point of a strangely chaotic and messy day.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully leave some of life’s pain behind me. I don’t really expect to entirely clean up all the chaos and damage – but it is pretty fucking splendid just to be able to live my life without everything seeming to crash down, over and over and over again, like a house of cards in a strong breeze, any time something goes a little sideways. Progress. Incremental change over time. Lots of practices. Lots of verbs. Lots of choices.

Oh hey, look at the time! There’s a highway just over there… and a journey to make. I’ve got a map for this one, but even in this instance, the map is not the journey, and I have to make this trip, myself. πŸ™‚ I’m having my own experience.

It’s definitely time to begin again. See you on Sunday – in the glow of evening light, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

This is a story about coffee – sort of. πŸ˜‰

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. πŸ™‚

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. πŸ™‚ I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle. Β I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. πŸ™‚

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. πŸ™‚ We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. πŸ™‚