Archives for posts with tag: sound and vision

I woke comfortably after sleeping in, and although the night itself was restless and interrupted, I woke feeling pretty good. The persistent ringing in my ears continues to persist (thus, being persistent); it’s been with me for decades. I think it became quite unavoidably obvious sometime in the mid 80s. It continues without relief, and I generally don’t complain. Over the years, I’ve learned to constantly return my focus to external sounds; my only reminder that indeed I do still hear those is to specifically pause and make a point of refocusing my attention on them. (If I focus on the tones of my tinnitus I hear nothing else.)

Why on earth does any of this matter this morning? Only because I woke listening to my tinnitus, and consumed my first cup of coffee shopping for appropriate hearing protection for future concert going; sleeping between a running generator, and a concert stage was a powerful reminder that I still have more hearing I could lose. I’d rather not lose more of my hearing. 🙂

My sleep was restless and interrupted by nightmares. Strange pointless nightmares parading vague insecurities and nebulous fears across my dreamscape. I dreamt of mocking laughter, and being played, taken advantage of, mis-used, and treated as a disposable commodity in relationships I hold dear. I dreamt of being lied to. I dreamt of being unaware of what my relationships are actually built on, or what goes on in the background, when I am absent. I woke abruptly sometime around 1:30 am, and tossed and turned awhile before returning to sleep at some unknown point. I felt okay when I woke again around 5 am, although my body felt heavy with physical sensations that suggested I’d been crying in my sleep. Another nap, I woke from that feeling that I’d “slept in” and was “well-rested”. I’ve refused to give much further thought to my bad dreams, and just gone on with coffee – and shopping for ear plugs. Sure, sure, a little odd, but… better than getting hung up on the details of nightmares…and if there is any chance I’m going to be doing more music festivals (and there is), I’ll definitely want hearing protection. lol

Coffee two finds me planning the day – and what is left of my weekend. There’s housekeeping to be done. Quite a lot of laundry. So, I make a list for myself (I find that the easiest way to ensure I get “everything” – it’s never really “everything” – done that I intend to do), sip my coffee, and listen to some music while I sort myself out and really wake up. This morning, I find something wise and reassuring about the Beastie Boys. I find admitting that pretty amusing. Pretty much everything on my playlist speaks very specifically to something that matters to me, that I find value in, or repeats some meta message that resonates with me. A reminder of another time, perhaps. A cautionary tale. An admission. A valued perspective. It’s rarely about whatever the artist may have intended in any clear way; music is more personal than that for me.

It’s a lovely Saturday to begin again. 🙂

If each birthday were a new beginning, a moment of re-birth, an awakening, a start on a journey, a moment of profundity, or simply a break from the being we once had been which opens us to being the being we would soon become… would we grow faster?

…But isn’t it? I mean, it could be, couldn’t it? Is that a choice we make? When we’re very young we eagerly look ahead to milestones marked by years… The year we’re promised high heels, or make-up, or a firearm, or dating, or a trip somewhere exotic, or the year we graduate, or get to vote for the first time, or ride a bicycle, or buy a car, or a house, or get married, or have a child… each a big deal, anticipated, considered, maybe yearned for and planned around – are these not re-births of a sort? A new beginning, a change of heart or thinking so profound that “the course of our life” is altered in ways that seem subjectively obvious, and also unexpected? We begin again, so many times…

I took a journey down a road I’d never traveled, predictably it lead me somewhere I’d never been.

My birthday weekend was amazing, and connected, and shared, and human, and delicious with wonder, and adventure. It was eye-opening. It was romantic. It was practical. It was peculiarly wholesome – for some values of wholesome – and it “took me places” I hadn’t thought to travel previously. I’m glad I went. I’m glad I “said yes” to the moment and immersed myself in a something strangely new, made up, as it was, of so much that was entirely familiar.

The music festival weekend was likely not at all as planned by the event organizers. It was cold. When we arrived a freezing rain was falling. It was wet. The rain fell, on and off, all weekend long. It was blustery. I personally helped catch, retrieve, and right 3 different canopies and 1 tent over the 3 days I was there. There was rather of a lot of odd drama which seemed both unexpected and tedious, but it was such a small part of the experience the recollection will likely fade quickly. I met a lot of new people, and I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner and a friend while they did their thing out there in the world. I listened to some great music – and I listened to that music so loud, so bass-heavy, so entirely encompassing that the ground shook with it – for 2 days, from noon to 6 am. No kidding. Sleep was a very new experience in that environment. My dreams didn’t suffer from it, but I made the drive home in silence, listening only to my tinnitus and the sound of the wind along the way.  The people who came to the event, who stayed through the wind and weather, brought with them a sense of community that I’m still wowed by. The best part? New friends – and time well-spent wrapped in love, just hanging out with my Traveling Partner for a couple days. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I’m still smiling. It’s Monday night, tomorrow I get back to the office, back to the routine of meetings, calls, emails, spreadsheets, summaries, recommendations, task processing, and commuting. I feel pretty okay with that, sitting here this evening. I smile, thinking about my Traveling Partner. I think about the weekend. I think about his visit this afternoon. I think about shared goals, and the dovetailing of individual goals that is so tidy that even those feel shared; a partnership of equals.

I’m taking a quiet moment at the end of the day to wish the woman in the mirror a happy birthday. This one definitely feels like the beginning of something wonderful, and if nothing else it is enough that the weekend and the day were themselves quite wonderful. Really nothing more is required, it’s all quite enough. 54? Yes, I am. ❤

I definitely “feel 53” this morning. I’m okay with that; I am 53. 🙂 The show last night was amazing. It was not really “a concert” or.. well… it was a fantastical stage production centering around music, themed on Alice in Wonderland, attended by beings willing to suspend expectations of the ordinary for a night and just… go with it. A needed, and worthy, break from the routine. There were dancers, jugglers, performance artists of several sorts, and painters practicing their craft live, to massive fabulous bass-y beats. It was quite wonderful. I got home very late, and I had planned and prepared for this to be the case… but, there were verbs involved, choices made, and of course today I begin again.

Down the Rabbit Hole 2017 at the Crystal Ballroom

My ears are ringing like crazy. I took ear plugs with me, and when I wasn’t on the dance floor, had a comfortable vantage point from the balcony of the historic theater venue – my ears are still ringing. Experience suggests my tinnitus will be a mild impairment for at least today, then fading into the background to exist as a mild persistent distraction once again. I’m tired. I can look at the number of hours that I slept and figure I’ve “gotten enough sleep”, but I feel groggy, and inclined to return to bed – but I won’t sleep now that I’m awake and consciousness is filled with morning sunshine. I hurt all over. As I think about that, my pain worsens. That’s a practical detail worthy of consideration; if I make my pain my focus, it becomes the most important thing in my awareness, and thereby becomes more prominent. I take a deep breath and let it go; it doesn’t stop me hurting altogether, but seems to reduce the magnitude somewhat.

Why all the bitching? I smile and sip my coffee, because I know something about me and this peculiar singular journey that is my experience; when I know where I am, I am more easily able to move on from that place. The challenge is to make the observation without making the observed detail a theme, or the focus of my experience, when it is something painful, uncomfortable, or perceivably “negative”. It’s worth remembering, too, that this also opens the door to more willfully lingering over, and savoring, the nurturing, delightful, pleasant, and uplifting experiences – deliberating shifting gears to make those a focus of my experience, or a theme, results in useful changes in implicit biases. The bitching, in this case, is structured and part of a process with a clear point. (Thanks cognitive science!)

A welcome seat with a decent view; the lamp included in the shot because it’s pretty cool, also. lol

I think over the high points of the evening… dancing with my Traveling Partner (we attended with another friend)… the music… the wow factor of the varied costumes of both the performers and the attendees… soaking in the lights, the scene, the wonder… finding a good seat with an unobstructed view that remained mine more or less all evening (even though I left it and returned several times)… losing track of my partner and his friend in the crowd and dancing dancing dancing through and among and around thinking I would eventually find them, and losing myself in the music instead (I found them when I returned to my seat! lol).

Sold out show.

My tinnitus fades into the background as I linger over the recollections of the evening. My back aches less. I forget that I’m rather amusingly sitting here with noise cancelling headphones on… but not playing any sounds. Going back to bed still sounds pretty nice… My eye wanders to the list of household chores I had planned to do today, from the vantage point of yesterday morning… I chuckle rather merrily and give silent side eye to the woman who wrote that list yesterday; I’m seriously doubting I will do even one thing on that list today. I’m okay with that. Today, rest and take care of me. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. 🙂

I woke to a noise this morning, after an exceptionally good night’s sleep. The peculiarly loud humming seemed to come from a great distance. The actual volume in decibels of the sound was probably not noteworthy, it only ‘seemed loud’ to me, upon waking – but it was enough to wake me. I woke in a good mood, and began my day with the noise in the background, persistent and strange. It was as I made my coffee that I identified the source of the sound, and in annoyed disbelief I began checking other things…opening doors, listening outside… how could this noise be the damned refrigerator? I check myself, and slow down. It is the refrigerator, and it isn’t that loud; I’m sound sensitive this morning.

Being sound sensitive is just ‘one of the things’ I associate with both my TBI and my PTSD. I’m not in a bad mood, or stressed out at all, but knowing that my level of sound sensitivity is high this morning is something to be mindful of later. For me, sound sensitivity works a bit like an aura might for someone with a seizure disorder; it’s a practical heads up that I may be more easily triggered than I expect, or that I may be easily pushed from order to disorder. I imagine a cartoon farmer, squinting at the sun, “Yep, could be a storm moving in…” I laugh it off and move on with my morning, awake and aware, and prepared to take care of me. Living alone, this is nothing to be alarmed about, or self-conscious over; it is enough to be aware that small moments of irritation may not truly be associated with the things I think I am irritated about in the moment.

It’s difficult to express how being sound sensitive can be a big deal. When I struggle with this particular facet of my experience, it’s as an irresistible force being applied to my consciousness, something with the power to reduce my humanity to a more animal level. Some sounds can aggravate me quickly to the point of weeping… or fury. It’s visceral, and seems inescapable. Ear plugs help – it’s a low tech solution, but actually quite effective. A dark quiet room, ear plugs, meditation…especially effective taken together, without interruption, for an extended period…but what if I am on the bus? Or at work? Or walking through the trees feeling fussy that other walkers are “talking so damned loud”? In public spaces I end up using sheer brute force self-control to get by on, sometimes arriving home with a headache from gritting my teeth to stop myself snarling at people, and melting into tears as soon as the door closes behind me. It’s a physical feeling sort of pain, actual pain, that doesn’t respond to anything at all besides quiet…and meditation. When it is severe, I sometimes find myself wanting to shout at even the people most dear to me, whose laughter is like music in my ears any other time, to please just fucking stop talking/laughing/breathing/moving things around. It hurts my [emotional] heart just to have those feelings about someone I love; on top of the pain of the sound sensitivity itself, the [emotional] pain of needing to distance myself from the sounds of life and love is indescribably unpleasant, and isolating.



This morning I am feeling fortunate – and grateful. Sure, I’m a little sound sensitive, but I slept well, I feel good, and I haven’t treated anyone badly as a result of my condition. I’m smiling. The day begins well, and my coffee is hot and tasty. My toes are cold in the chill of morning, and I see overcast skies that are clearly more of autumn than of summer. Life moves forward, and I enjoy each new opportunity to bring a little more order to my experience, and treat myself better than I understood how to do yesterday. The value of incremental change over time can’t be overstated.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver's seat.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver’s seat.

I’ve got love on my mind, this morning, and I am filled with inspiration. The long weekend ahead is no coincidence; I am painting this weekend. The first solidly creative weekend since I moved in has already begun, finishing the installation on my west wall (that sounds sort of ‘grand’ – honestly, I just hung some paintings). I love the creative work I do when I am filled with passion and joy (no rude jokes, I’m talking emotions, here!). Over my coffee, I allow my practical and creative sides to collide in a complex internal dialogue ‘about’ canvases, pigments, lighting, composition, theme, and technique…and not at all about any of those things, really.  I will shortly overcome my sound sensitivity…with sound. I rarely paint in silence; today will be filled with music, played loud enough to completely drown out my tinnitus, but not loud enough to piss off the neighbors. I will, however, choose my playlist with great care, today; some frequencies, beats, or vocal qualities will not be a good fit with the sound sensitivity.

Where will the journey take me?

Where will the journey take me?

Today will be filled with light, curtains open to the sky, and no concern about whether the neighbors see me painting –  and dancing; this is my experience, and it is one that is entirely out of reach of anyone else’s judgement, or opinion. Today is a good day to unleash the creative force within. Today is a good day to enjoy the woman in the mirror, doing her thing. Today is a very good day to live in my world. 🙂

…And turn to the lesson on page one.

This morning my eyes opened directly into the bright illuminating light of life’s powerful curriculum. Put another way; lacking sufficient attention to detail I failed to turn my aquarium from ‘day’ to ‘night’ lighting before I went to bed last night (a necessary action if I hope to sleep in). I don’t easily sleep through the ‘day’ lighting, and got a rather abrupt early wake up when the lights came on this morning. I am awake, and still somewhat groggy after some yoga, some meditation, and making coffee. I needed the sleep, and would have benefited from waking up naturally when sleeping had finished. I’m awake now. I also benefit from quiet mornings writing, and studying. It’s a lovely morning that lacks any risk whatsoever of irritating someone, hearing any raised voices, having any misunderstandings, feeling imposed upon, inconvenienced, resentful, or overwhelmed, interrupting, or being interrupted. Every one of those experiences requires interaction with other people, and in these pre-dawn hours on a weekend of solitude, there are no others here but me. On the other hand, in this quiet stillness there are no hugs, no laughter, no quiet sexy smiles, no opportunities to touch, to feel connected, to share intimate words or experiences, because these, too, require interaction with another.

This morning in the stillness, awake a bit too early, feeling a tad groggy, and maybe even just a little irritable…I am also a little bit lonely. I miss the visceral experience of loving. I miss hugs and kisses. I miss smiling into the eyes of someone dear and seeing them smile back. I miss hearing conversation in the background, or from another room. I miss the joy and the delight and the fun. I can tell I am actually experiencing the feeling called ‘loneliness’ separately from the subtleties of grieving, because I am also missing being annoyed that my traveling partner forgot to empty the porto filter from his last shot of espresso, or that my generally-at-home partner left egg white drying on the counter top after making eggs (both experiences I do not enjoy). It’s sort of a given, I suppose, that when we miss events, actions, or experiences we don’t actually care for, and miss them solely because of the people they are shared with, loneliness is involved somewhere. What is the answer to loneliness? (I smile at the sudden image of a teacher at the front of the room, and my own hand shooting skyward eagerly.) I know this one! (At least for me.) The answer to loneliness is interaction, connection, engagement – with another person, sure, that’s where I’m headed with that… I like to start with me, though. The level of intimacy I am capable of as a person has a direct correlation to how connected I am with myself, with my needs, with what I want most to share and experience.  “γνῶθι σεαυτόν”  (I don’t read Greek, but I find the words prettier to look at in that language. lol) Or “Gnothi seauton” – Know thyself. Yep. How can I share who I am if I don’t know myself? Loneliness is slippery that way. There are a lot of quotes about being lonely in a crowded room.

Know thyself...

Know thyself… a distant moment of reflection revealed in an old photograph.

I used to feel much lonelier with people than alone.  That’s not true of who I am now.  I don’t know with certainty that this change in my experience has a direct connection to feeling differently about myself, and taking care of my own emotional needs as a priority. I know that the more accepting and compassionate I have learned to become of myself, the less generally irritating “humanity” seems. (For a truly predictably generally shitty experience of life, few things beat finding the whole of humanity unpleasant in some way; the implied self-loathing never lets up for a moment.)

I don’t find this somewhat lonely moment of morning tragic in any way. I’m not yearning for a different experience. I don’t feel moved to change this moment even a little bit; I honor love and my loves to miss them in this moment, and recognizing their absence – even the absence of small human bits that aren’t their best qualities – simply reminds me how much they matter in my experience day-to-day. It’s loneliness, more than Loneliness. I am content with feeling the feeling, without intervening or acting on it.

unfinished canvas - where inspiration meets action.

unfinished canvas – where inspiration meets action.

This morning I will be in the studio, and because so much of the painting I do is driven by emotion, and enjoyed through movement, really any feelings at all are welcomed, if only for the opportunity to express them wordlessly. Grief. Loneliness. Heartfelt yearning for something just out of reach. Love. Devotion. Surrender.  (Yes, the linked track is on my playlist when I paint.) I got the art of it ‘right’ years ago, before I understood that I needed to bring that sense of compassionate inclusion and acceptance to my own heart, not just the canvas in front of me.

Today is a good day to feel the feelings, and to make the best possible choices regardless of those. Today is a good day to be kind to someone having a tough time, even if that someone is our own self. Today is a good day to share a favorite song, to celebrate love, and to enjoy each precious moment however insignificant. Today is a good day to take a deep breathe and let the small stuff go. Today is a good day to change the world.