Archives for posts with tag: read a book

I’m sipping my coffee and enjoying the quiet hours before the work day begins. I woke with a stuffy head, and started my morning with a long hot shower, which helped immensely. I definitely have more difficulty with anxiety when I have difficulty breathing! (How very mammalian of me.) My voice is a little “froggy” – I notice when I greeted my Traveling Partner (I think I woke him when I got up…?). I find myself wondering if I’ve managed to pick up a head cold somewhere… ? Well, it is January, and there is still a nasty pandemic raging all around us. (I remind myself to mask up if I go out.)

New year, new beginning. The holiday decorations are all packed up and ready to go back up into the attic space for another year. I’m pleased with how compact and tidy they are.

A clear indication that the holidays are over.

At the end of last year I switched up my meds, and I’ve noticed that I seem a bit… clumsier? Less precise in my movements in very subtle ways, at least. It shows in unexpected bumps, bangs, and things unexpectedly dropped. I can count on one hand the number of holiday ornaments I’ve broken as an adult over decades of celebrating the yule season… and one of those was this year. 😦 It was an antique glass bell ornament that I remember seeing on the family Christmas tree as a child. I was saddened but not “struck down” over it. From the perspective of this moment, here, now, that feels like amazing growth.

It’s not a tragedy, just a small loss.

New year, new beginnings. I’m making a point to walk more, and I’ve returned (comfortably and easily) to previously practiced practices that really help me stay fit. Simple changes like parking as far from the door of a place I intend to shop as I can within their parking lot, for example, really add up over time. I’m allowing life to be “less convenient”, simply to get more steps in and exert more effort. It works surprisingly well. The more I do, the more I can do. Bit “late in the game”, sure, but every small change adds up. Details like walking further from the car to the store, and having to get up for the remote (every time, because I put it too far away to reach), and not trying to “make one trip” when I unload the car – those are tiny details that often get worked precisely in the “other direction” as we master adulthood – more ease, more convenience. Cooking real food from fresh ingredients takes so much more effort than a quick trip for fast food. Giving up convenience 100% means exerting more effort. More effort is more calories burned, more movement, and, over time, more fitness.

I’m quite a bit heavier than I’d ideally like to be. My goals are practical and health/longevity focused, and I try to keep them achievable, so small steps first makes sense. I’ve got dumbbells at home and I use them. There are trails and pavement all around for getting more miles on my boots. I’m even getting back to healthier eating habits and foods that support my health.

A recent weekend breakfast, simple and nourishing.

My focus on improving my sleep seems to be paying off, and I am getting better quality rest in the hours that I sleep. Win! 😀 None of this is costly. Most of this comes without a direct cost, for many people. (Let’s note that it can be quite a bit more expensive to buy fresh good quality ingredients for cooking wholesome food, and kitchen gadgets are not cheap, either.)

Have you noticed that I’m not talking about this stuff in terms of “resolutions”? Yeah… resolutions in that classic American-New-Years-y sense just don’t really work for me. They get dropped along the way, and by the end of February they’re just a memory of an intention once formed and never fulfilled. LOL I prefer to think in terms of making change and practicing practices. Seems to work out for me far more often. When it doesn’t? I can more simply shrug off that “false start” and begin again. No guilt, no shame, no awkwardness. 😀 My results vary – I know that, and I plan on it, account for it, and don’t take it personally.

How about a New Year’s book recommendation? I’ll be adding this one to my reading list once I’m finished reading it myself… Have you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck? The author, Mark Manson, provides an excerpt on his website. Not gonna lie, it’s a very approachable take on mindfulness basics, and a usefully practical approach to what could be called “secular Buddhism” for 21st century humans. So far I’m finding it helpful, useful, and wholly entertaining. I’d definitely sit down for a coffee with the author and enjoy a conversation if the opportunity came up. 😀

Anyway. If you haven’t already, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to begin again?

This morning I’m all smiles. I had a lovely day with my Traveling Partner, yesterday. It finished well. Life feels balanced, and I am contented. Sure, sure, still looking for a job, so there’s that, but I don’t see that it has any requirement to be a massive continuous buzzkill every minute of every day… or… any minutes. Ever. I know “this too will pass” – doesn’t matter whether it’s a good mood, a bad mood, a wonderful moment, a tragedy; moments are moments. Transient. Finite. Limited. Very little in a single human life is so dire that despair is truly warranted (that’s one of the things that makes despair so terrible and terrifying – it feels like “everything”, and it’s very “sticky”). I enjoy the smile on my face, take a sip of this glass of water, and listen to a video that makes me smile with such tremendous delight it’s hard to move on to the next one. No, I’m not linking it; delight is not “universal”, and what tickles me so profoundly may be disturbing or offensive or puzzling for someone else. No point. Hit up Google or YouTube, find your groove. 😉

Different day, different meadow.

I went to the nearby nature reserve this morning to get shots of birds. I got there just at daybreak; first car into the park. Choice. The summer-scented air was fragrant with meadow flowers and a hint of marsh. The morning was very quiet and quite overcast. I grabbed my gear and walked down the path to a spot I know is a good one for taking pictures of birds. No birds. It was rather as if the wildlife decided to sleep in on this quiet gray morning. I walked on. Snapped some pictures of flowers, the skyline, reflections on the water. Kept walking. Eventually my Traveling Partner pinged me.

My last trip was more “productive”, if I choose to define it that way – there were more birds.
I got a lot of chances to improve on my skills at taking pictures of birds that day.

There’s no expectation that I’ll cut my camera time short when my partner wakes, although I do try to “stay gone” long enough for him to sleep in, should he choose to and find himself able. Still… not much going on in the nature park, so I turned back and walked back to the parking lot. I passed a lot of other visitors with cameras. By the time I was within view of the parking lot, the path down to the meadow looked like a fucking camera convention. Individuals and groups, each taking some favored spot, waiting, watching, hoping for a great shot of… something. (Anything – other than each other.) lol I see a lot of really fancy gear as I pass other visitors. I could easily be overcome with dissatisfaction and “gear envy”…but it’s not my way. Like, I mean, explicitly not my choice to be thusly overcome; I get some great shots with my modest gear. I enjoy it as it is. It’s often so much more about location, timing, and willingness to walk on, or sit quietly awhile, and less to do with the gear, generally. 🙂 A lot of life is like that. Even mindfulness practices – anyone can (people often do) spend a ton of money on coaches, consultants, therapists, or “specialists” to learn to sit quietly, breathe, and relax. (It’s even possible to take an expensive destination retreat at an actual monastery, should you have the desire and the resources. It’s not necessary to do so, though, at all.) It’s not even a certainty that spending that kind of money on breathing exercises and mindfulness practices will “pave the trail” for you more skillfully than taking it upon yourself to read a book and begin practicing practices. It’s more about the verbs than the dollars.

…I’m one of those people, by the way. No kidding. I was at the edge and still spiraling down, and I felt wholly defeated. I spent a notable amount of my limited resources on therapy. Doing so saved my life. Looking back, I can see how easily I could have made that journey, perhaps, without spending that money…only… I didn’t, because I wasn’t able to. I did not know what I did not know. I needed that help. So I did the needful and took steps to get the help I needed. Did my therapist do more than point me in the direction of reading different books, or helping me practice other practices? Oh, for sure. Real therapy. I needed a lot of help making that healing journey (that is still in progress), and part of that process was gaining a better understanding of my actual legit issues. Still… it is possible to make a healing journey without a map. It isn’t about the money.

I prepared my reading list so that someone who maybe can’t at all afford the expense of therapy in their here-and-now could still benefit from the foundations of the journey I’m taking myself. I write this blog for that same reason – and also because I often find that I “fail to take my own good advice” because I’ve lost perspective over time. This blog is something of a repository of my notes about this journey, and my changing perspective over time – a reminder that it can be done, because I’ve done it, just in case I find myself doubting. (I’m very human.)

What a lovely morning this is, so far. It may last the day. It may not. So much of that is up to me. I’ve got choices to make. Practices to practice. Verbs to put into motion. It’s time to begin again.

Good steps to begin a journey:

  1. Do something differently. (Follow-up)
  2. What about self-care?
  3. Maybe just don’t be in your own way?

I came home from my camping trip a day early. No particular reason, aside from knowing my Traveling Partner was missing me, and the day looked rainy when I woke this morning, and honestly? I felt “done”. It was a great camping trip, filled with self-reflection, meditation, coffee-drinking (it was terrible), sleeping on the ground (with very comfortable mats, and it was deeply restful, if not continuous), birdsong, breezes, and aggravatingly long walks to well-cared for vault toilets. So… it was a good camping trip that met many needs, with few complaints (I’d have to really dig deep, and I don’t care to make that effort just now).

I got to the site on Sunday, earlier than I’d planned – and damn am I grateful that I made that change! The peak heat of the day hit 96 degrees, even out there in the trees, and there was no breeze to cool off with that day. The air was still and stifling hot. My gear felt heavy. So heavy. I broke it down into smaller loads and slowed down; 4 trips down the trail and back to get my gear into camp. By the end of that first day, I was exhausted. I was also fine. I made a point to drink ample water, and brought a good supply of my own on the chance that the water in the park might for any reason be limited, inaccessible to me, or not potable for some reason. I also stocked the big cooler with proper electrolyte beverages (in this case, Pedialyte). I was glad I did. That first day could have turned out poorly without good hydration – and a plan to stay well-hydrated in spite of the heat.

Time well-spent.

The days rolled by gently, and the weather cooled off for the rest of my time out among the trees. That first night several large-ish groups and several obvious families lugged their gear down into the camp site, got set up, got frustrated with the heat, packed up all their shit and headed back out before the sun ever even set. By morning, there were only three sites occupied (out of 21), and I may as well have been alone. The solitude was drenching and thoroughly delightful. I wiled away quite a few lovely hours just listening to the wind blow, the chatter of nearby chipmunks, and the buzzing of insect life all around me. I let everything else just… go. Once, during the night, on one evening or another, my anxiety began to flare up for no obvious reason. My brain chased after it, like a cat after a dangled string. I got up from my resting place, restlessly, and wandered out into the darkness. I spotted the fat golden moon – some “super moon” or another. It was lovely and large, looming over the night, peeking through the hemlocks and maples. My anxiety fled – it could not compete with that fat round moon. LOL

Lovely quiet days. Lovely quiet nights. I read a book my Traveling Partner gave me (Richard Feynman’s “Six Easy Pieces”). I drank dreadful instant coffee, smiling so hard my face hurt. I relaxed. Thoroughly. I slept well and deeply. I even managed to enjoy my stay without becoming a feast for the mosquitoes – only just found a couple bites this afternoon, on my shoulder in a spot I obviously missed with the Deet. LOL There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

I glance at my email. Messages from friends and former colleagues, things that can wait for tomorrow. Soon enough to begin again.

Life is filled with mysteries and unanswered questions. This is my own experience, if nothing else. These mysteries come in all sizes, from the petty to the cosmic in scale, varying in philosophical and existential significance.

“Where did we come from?”

“How do I work this?”

“Where is the matching sock to this one?”

“Where did I leave my keys?”

“How do I say this?”

“How do I get there?”

“Friend or foe?”

“Have I forgotten to pack something I definitely need?”

“What is my favorite color/food/book/movie…?”

“What are the steps to making a perfect cup of coffee?”

“Where the hell did I put my Kindle?”

It’s that last wee mystery that’s been on my mind for a couple days now. I have a clear recollection of where was before it seemed to completely disappear. 🤔 I have, so far, avoided creating chaos by tearing apart every room in the house… but I haven’t yet found it. Honestly, it can’t have gone far. Fucking thing has a bright pink cover autographed in black sharpie by several nerdcore rappers; hard to miss. Definitely doesn’t look like anything else.

Where is it??

I have a potentially misleading memory of knocking it to the floor carelessly as I dozed off one evening… I have looked everywhere that could have occurred, and even moved furniture to look under things. It’s so very much not any of those places I’ve been gaslighting myself wondering if I only dreamt that detail. I am overly certain that it is not packed in any of my camping gear… and I am second-guessing that now, too.

Where is it??

Again and again I refrain from getting stuck in an anxiety loop; it’s just a Kindle after all, and quite an old one. My Traveling Partner gave it to me for Giftmas about 10 years ago. It’s replaceable, although the cover is not (it’s autographed). Still, it’s just a thing. It isn’t even my only access to the ebooks in my library.

Where is it??

It’s the mystery vexing me, more than the potential loss. Misplacing things is not particularly uncommon for me. I have a pretty exceptional built in “finder”, so these sorts of really challenging mysteries are fairly rare, but I do have a couple lasting memories of weird losses, found much (much) later in the oddest place… This is looking to be one of those.

Strangely, I am less anxious about losing my Kindle than I am deeply curious about where the hell it will turn out to be. 😆

…In the meantime, I’ll be camping for a few days without being easily able to take along almost infinite reading material; I’ll have to actually choose a book I want to read such that I am willing to carry it. Choices.

It’s time to let this go and begin again.