Archives for posts with tag: ptsd

Warning: this article has no point. No proper theme. No clear metaphor. You have been warned.

I woke early this morning, although it felt like sleeping in; it’s a Monday holiday, and I’ve got the day off. My Traveling Partner slept in. I did some yoga. Enjoyed a hot shower, and a first cup of coffee while I looked over new seed catalogues. Quiet morning. I think about a second coffee. I think about a walk in a foggy Pacific Northwest forest. I think about pancakes I intend to make later. Walk first? Seems the correct order of operations, or pace, for a holiday Monday. Leisurely. No pressure. Some housekeeping later? Sure. There are things to do that need to be done.

I think about the parts that make up a entire lived life. I think about ages, in years and in time frames. I think about “work” and “life”. I think about passions – for things, for people, for experiences, and for those random affections and fondnesses for this or that, that become attachments to “who we are”. “Time at work” is part of this lived experience of mine. “Time in the studio” feels more “important” emotionally… clearly, in practical terms, it is less important if I define that time by what it brings to the finances. Subjectively, I experience a sense that I “don’t spend enough time in the studio, creatively”, while also routinely down-playing my desire to be there for “practical reasons” or because something else “seems more important”. There are other ways I fondly use my time to invest in personal joy and moments of heartfelt delight. I think of time spent on love and loving. Time in the garden. Time spent reading… walking… hanging out with my partner… Time spent in the kitchen.

I sip this glass of water I am drinking between coffees. I think about the ways I spend time. I think over which of them I enjoy. What do I spend time on that I merely endure? Where is the greater value? Where is the necessity? Grimly, my brain tosses in a random remark about the inevitable heat death of the universe for fun. I mentally roll my eyes at myself.

Unfinished thoughts.

I think about posts I started to write, then never finished. Or… never actually wrote, at all. I wonder whether I’ll ever resurrect any of them, start or finish them? If I did, would there be any chance at all that they would be what I might have written when the thought first struck me? How would they have morphed and changed in my thinking over the course of some measure of time of this lived experience? What was I even thinking?

My smiling partner breaks in on my thoughts; a welcome diversion, this morning. This? Here? Not really “going anywhere”. I’m okay with that. It’s time for a second coffee – and a good time to begin again. 😀

Most details of this delightful love I share with my Traveling Partner play out in our kitchen. Discussions about recipes, cooking techniques, taste preferences, costs and sources of various ingredients, and sharing suggestions, tips, and offering practical help, or even just hanging out to watch and share the experience, are all very commonplace happenings here. We both cook. He’s quite good at it. I’m a perpetual novice, tackling every new recipe as if cooking for the first time. I’ve learned quite a lot from my partner, in our kitchen. Even subtler nuances of love play out in our kitchen; how our dynamic works (or doesn’t, now and then), the search for balance, mutual autonomy, mutual respect, and the way our obvious fond regard for one another eases the strain of occasional conflict. How to communicate. How to follow instructions. It’s all in the kitchen.

I personally have a strange mixed up relationship with “the kitchen”. In my childhood, this was the place women gathered – or were directed towards. “Real chefs” were respected in the world… women in the kitchen were not. I have a lingering fuck-ton of baggage about misogyny, the kitchen, feminism, equality, and what it means to be a woman in the kitchen, in American life. All mine. I don’t think my partner shares that garbage (he’s no doubt got his own to deal with), and this too becomes part of the theater of life – and the kitchen.

…I do love cookbooks. This may seem odd considering my strange relationship with the kitchen and with cooking. I long resented the dishes (as in “dirty, in the sink”) as emblematic of servitude, for like… decades. No idea when I got over that… I think it was when I realized that it was my own desire for order that drove my stress about the dishes, that I was finally able to put some of that down and walk on from it. I even like cooking. I like taking ingredients and making them something more than they once were – something worth sharing, and experiencing. The effort has meaning and value, when I allow myself to wholly enjoy the outcome, authentically, honestly, and fearlessly. I mean – let’s be real here – I’m not the most fantastic cook on the block. lol I’ve got a lot to learn, and mistakes have been made. 🙂 I’ll probably enjoy learning more about cooking for a long while to come.

I’ve learned a few things in the kitchen, in this relationship, and not just recipes or gadgets. I’ve learned more about “the dance” of lovers in close quarters working on separate tasks; kitchens are often small confined spaces, and in some cases even two people is one person “too many” for ease and convenience. Coordination becomes relevant. Communication is important. Acceptance, and understanding, and the assumption of positive intent keep things merrily moving along toward a successful, hopefully tasty conclusion. 🙂 There are some really useful lessons to be learned in the kitchen.

Friday I said I wanted to work on my pancakes this weekend. They’re okay. Not “great”. They’re perfectly good pancakes, but not such that anyone is going to ask me to make them. LOL So, okay. I made pancakes yesterday. Re-learned the lesson that is “make sure your surface is hot enough before you start cooking the pancakes”. Important lesson there. 🙂 In the evening, I remembered my plan to make pancakes and spoke up about my intention to do so again today for breakfast. My partner’s reply? “Waffles?”. Yep. I learned to make waffles pretty well last year, around this same time, I think. At that time, my Traveling Partner was kind, and very clear about it “I don’t really like waffles, but…” he was totally open to supporting my efforts by eating waffles now and then. He just didn’t want me to be disappointed if he just wasn’t wowed by waffles. I appreciate expectation-setting, especially when done with such care and love. I made the waffles. They were “okay”. We ate them. I made more waffles, and the next time or two they were beyond “okay” – we ate those, too, obviously. My waffles are pretty good. Good enough to freeze any excess and using them as homemade freezer waffles for later. lol My partner asks me to make waffles – because my waffles are fucking delicious. 😀 There’s a lesson here. There’s a metaphor here. I think it over and sip my coffee.

Soon, it’ll be time to begin again. In the kitchen. Making waffles. Feeling loved.

It’s a new year, eh? New cup of coffee here on my desk, too. New morning, new day – a Saturday. The season has turned, and Winter is truly upon us. Here that mostly means cold, wet, and rainy, with occasional flooding, and the sounds of trees cracking when the wind blows on a freezing day. Other places, other weather.

Out on a nearby trail, taking note of the recent winter storm damage; fallen trees open up new views of the sky.

It’s been a few days since I sat down to put words to a blank page. The holidays passed, as holidays do, and this is a time when best intentions set boldly of a New Year’s Eve begin to fall to the mundane, the routine, and the unexceptional – change is quite a bit of work. Did you commit yourself to some specific change or improvement in life for this new year? Are you already frustrated? I try to avoid “resolutions” – it just hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally. Still, this year I do want to “do more, better” – and be more that person I most want to be. It wants a new beginning, though, because I am deeply flawed, fundamentally very human, and entirely capable of bad decision-making, errors, and falling short of expectations and commitments. I’ve disappointed myself a number of times this year, once in a serious, significant, and painful way. So, as is so common, I set myself to putting things right as the new year approached, and tried to sort out what really crap-tacular shit is holding me back, and what baggage I can maybe put down , and what things I can do better, generally. I’m back in therapy, working on difficult specifics.

What sorts of changes am I looking for, this year, myself? It’s an assortment. Last year I got in 1 mile per day (average) over the second half of the year (started in July, finished on 12/31/21). This year I’m going for 2 miles per day, all year. 730 miles. On foot. I mean… it’s not “all that”. People do through hikes that are far longer, and conquer those in shorter time. 🙂 For me, working from home full time, during a pandemic, 2 miles a day on foot still manages to feel like a (healthy) stretch, particularly if I am making a legitimate attempt to do some portion of that every single day. So. I’m doing it. I’ve at least started. I sip my coffee and wonder if I’ll give up, or feel inclined to “cheat”. (There is no “cheating” on such things; either I succeed or I fail. Miles on foot are miles on foot. Doesn’t mean there won’t be something within me inclined to wonder if I could “find an easier way”. I’m very human.) Various other small things; get more done with less bitching (housekeeping shit, I mostly mean), really embracing the direct personal value to my quality of life that those efforts have, and maybe stop fucking resenting the necessity. That gets super tedious for me, even from within. “Do more, bitch less” seems a good place to begin. So far this year, I’ve been hitting the mark there pretty well, just making a bit more effort, with a bit less resistance to the effort required. It does seem to make things actually easier.

I’ve got bigger changes in mind, too. This partnership means the world to me. My Traveling Partner is special in my heart. Surely I could be a better partner? Better friend? Better human being to make a life with? I mean… there may be some things about me that may not improve much, however I fuss and practice, but that can’t be what stops me from growing and improving in all the ways I can improve, right? PTSD and brain trauma are for sure ass-kickers, as life challenges go, but I’m not without potential, and I’m pretty wonderful in so many other ways – there’s no legitimate reason to allow my issues to define me, or hold me back from making more progress, and walking my path with future successes in mind.

I wrote a bunch more words, deleted those when I noticed that my mind was wandering, and my words had become… unfocused? Purposeless? Too… something. My Traveling Partner stops by to invite me to share an experience with him later – doesn’t matter what sort, really, it’s the invitation to enjoy each other that matters most. Sounds like fun. I enjoy his company, and sharing time and activities. I smile after he walks away; we’re both pretty grumpy first thing in the morning, and don’t always want to “deal with people” – including each other. It’s a wonderful morning when we’re already exchanging smiles by 8:00 am on a Saturday, and making suggestions for shared experiences to enjoy.

Other than one errand I plan to run this morning, I’m hoping to spend most of the day here in the studio (painting, instead of writing). It’s a good day for it, I think, rainy, cold, dreary… the bright lights in the studio are probably good for my emotional wellness in winter months. 🙂 I’ll make cocoa… and begin again.

I stayed up “late” last night with my Traveling Partner – somehow managed to wake up early this morning. lol S’okay, my coffee is hot, and it tastes “good” in that way coffee does (and doesn’t; it’s an acquired taste, I think). It’s a work day after a long holiday weekend. The morning is a chilly one, sort of, but at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly reaches the potential for “the first day of Winter”. One of the perks of life in the Pacific Northwest, I guess; at least for now, winter is a mild season. The forecast hints at some small potential for snow on Giftmas, more likely on New Year’s weekend. Am I eager for the snow? I don’t know that I have any particular enthusiasm or reluctance, though I know I am likely to be as kiddy as a school kid to see it when it falls. lol

Yesterday, I took note of the season’s change with a longish walk in a nearby wildlife refuge. It was a lovely day, mostly on the sunny side, after many days of rain. It was a day well-spent in gentle contemplation and ease.

A lovely day for a walk along a path that wanders between meadow, marsh, and riverbank.

After many days of rain, the rivers are swollen and many have exceeded their usual path, flowing over into low-lying areas beyond their banks. It’s not a surprise. I see it nearer to home; the wee creek at the edge of the property is, itself, well-beyond the capacity of it’s banks, the ground beyond on all sides soaked, puddled, and marshy. Hard to get a clear picture through the trees and the berry vines. I feel fortunate that the water level seems to stay just beyond our little yard quite reliably.

…Another holiday behind us, other holidays ahead…

I sip my coffee thinking about the weekend that has so recently ended, and all the small details that made it so lovely. In the background, my Traveling Partner’s voice. I have on one of his flight simulator videos as a sort of “alarm clock”; it’ll end just at the time I want to redirect my attention to work for the day. 😀 His soothing tone, focused on the process in front of him, is pleasant and “feels like home”. Content creation is an involved endeavor, and I’m impressed with his will and progress, and I enjoy his work. I let the details of a weekend of love and conversation drift by in my thoughts, and smile.

…This is good coffee…

2021 begins to end… we’ve had our “longest night”, and it’s time for the days to slowly begin to grow longer. It’s time to begin again. 😀

Stop.

Seriously, just put it all on pause for a minute or two. You’ll be fine. The work will wait. The pings and texts will wait too. That urgent whateverthefuck you just have to get done right now? Yep, even that will wait for a couple minutes. Take care of you for a minute. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

Turn off the music. Quiet as much of the noise as you can control. Just sit for a minute. Another breath. Need a timer? I’ve got you… here, try this one. You’ve got two minutes for you, right?

…<sigh>… Feels good. Just a quiet minute or two…

There’s a lot to get done. Life sometimes feels so crazy busy that I walk around with a chronic lingering sensation of something being incomplete, unfinished, or forgotten. Sometimes, when I stumble on the thing driving that sensation, it’ll turn out to be something forgettably unimportant like being interrupted while reading a receipt, and having the sensation of “an unfinished conversation” that turns out to be with myself. lol I’ve found, more than once, that the “secret” to feeling less busy, less frantic, less consumed by the details… is to slow down. So. Do that.

Do it again.

Set expectations with yourself and others about how much you really can (or are really willing) to do. Take care of yourself. “Human” comes with some known limitations. Respect your limitations – and your boundaries. Tired? Rest. Hurting? Heal. Cross with the world? Take a step back and enjoy you for a little while. Recognize that everyone around you needs those same things – rest, healing, and time to just be who they are, and enjoy that experience.

Look, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m telling you what I’m doing – and going to do, and planning to continue to practice until I get properly good at it. It just doesn’t make any damned sense to be the person in the world treating me the worst. lol I am practicing treating myself – and my loved ones – as well as I know how to treat anyone at all. Every day. Every interaction. Moment by moment. I expect to fall short of my goals – maybe a lot. Failure is an option – pretty commonplace, actually – and we learn more from failures than from successes, so… there’s that. 🙂 You’re gonna fail at some things. That has to be okay. Start over. Begin again. Understand where things went amiss, and do something different or change the context. Just don’t give up on yourself. You have room to grow – and even that journey can be fun, and even pleasant, and rewarding, and filled with love. 🙂 Worth exploring, I think.

…I’m in so much pain today. Arthritis in my spine. Cervicogenic headache. The consequences of injuries, aging, and cold weather… and it seems so completely ordinary as to defy being worth bitching about…but here I am. I think I’ll just begin again, myself. 🙂 I’m certainly too busy to let pain tell me what to do. 😉