Archives for posts with tag: taking care of me

We don’t necessarily choose where we start our journey; our starting point is what it is. We can choose our direction. We can choose each step along the way (although we often trudge through our lives more haphazardly than that). We can choose (and embrace) change. We often don’t. I know I too frequently endure what could be changed… endurance has been sort of habitual for me, and often seems “easier” as a result.

Enduring misery seems kind of stupid when choices can be made. If a job or relationship feels miserable, why would we not choose to change it? This could mean walking away, it could be taking a new approach or setting new/different boundaries and expectations. So many choices. So many opportunities to use the power of choice and change…

Choosing can seem pretty difficult, itself. I’m not sure I have good insights on why that is. Change feels scary sometimes. Choosing it brings that fear into prominence, up close, intimately connected with how I see myself, and what I may think I “deserve” in life. Weird, right? I mean… how strange that one might choose to endure misery rather than face one’s fears about change, or reflect on what we can or should do to care for ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I admitted to my Traveling Partner that I am not happy with my current job. Commonplace enough. His response to that, looking back, seems pretty rational and practical, too. “Maybe it’s time to look for something different?” I replied “Maybe. Probably.” I reflected on that conversation, and my circumstances… new mortgage…a desire for stability…fearfulness of change…and a job that I was not finding satisfying because I’m not finding success in it (based on my own definition of success, which requires – for me – that my best work also be effective). Endure? Or… seek change? Could the needed change be achieved where I am? Do I even want that based on all the information at hand?

These sorts of questions work whether the struggle is to do with jobs, projects, relationships… pretty “all purpose” for contemplating purposeful change in life. 😀

One morning, I made a choice.

Anyway. The “tl;dr” of the thing is that I started looking at other opportunities, and found something that suits me better. Time to make that change happen. Time to walk on. Time to live with purpose and time to choose.

…And it’s time to begin again. 😀

I slept deeply through the night, and woke gently ahead of the alarm clock. I sat quietly with my coffee for almost an hour, simply breathing and reflecting. It was a pleasant gentle moment with myself, and a great start to my day.

I found myself reflecting on the yearning to be heard that so many of us feel, so chronically, and the way we once channeled our voices into writing – on paper, I mean – journals, manuscripts, letters to far off family, friends, or colleagues. Letters to editors. Letters to legislators. Letters to businesses and institutions. It’s a slower pace of communication, for certain, and one that presents an opportunity to reflect on our words, and reconsider them. Contrast this with the “shouting into the void” sorts of experiences we find on social media platforms of various sorts; we can drop our remarks into a quick post or tweet, and fire them off into feeds everywhere… so many more opportunities to be really heard! At least… that’s the marketing hype. Be heard. Share your voice. Share your opinion (however poorly supported in any factual way). Share your outrage and your anger (without regard to the completeness of your understanding, or how well-informed your perspective truly is). Likes, clicks, and views are monetized. Profits go to the loudest most “viral” voices. It’s not a coincidence that we discuss such things using the language of contagion; it’s less about the truth, and more about spreading that shit around.

I definitely “want to be heard”. This? Here? It’s not really about that, for me – it’s more about a long conversation with myself (and with you) that I can look back on, refer to for context, and gauge progress over time, or reach back in time for “help from a friend” I can generally count on these days – myself. I still find myself, often, disagreeing with an article or commentator and wanting to “answer them” or reply… I know I’m not alone in that. Twitter is undeniable proof that we’re a society of folks who shout at their televisions when the talking heads on the screen say something we find disagreeable. lol

…Sometimes it’s a better choice to simply “shout into the void” and then just let that shit go. Seriously. I mean… is every opinion I don’t share worth challenging? Is every bit of objectionable content worth actually objecting to? I bet you know what I think the answer to those questions is… Opinions don’t become facts just because a fuck-ton of people share one (or many). Still just opinion. Still no more valuable than that. Too often we allow ourselves to be persuaded to adopt an opinion or stance on some subject without properly exploring the facts – the real facts, the documented known facts – and we’re far too reluctant to accept uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. We’d much rather “know” something… even if it is patently and obviously and demonstrably provably incorrect. No kidding. It’s actually pretty challenging to fight off the inclination to “know” something I don’t truly know, and based on what I see in the news, and on various news-adjacent or purportedly informative platforms, it’s a common affliction among human primates.

We could do better.

I know I can do better… that’s something I’m pretty certain of, and I find quite a lot to support that supposition factually. So. There’s that.

Our emotions get ahead of us so often…

Don’t drink the poison. Don’t pass it around. Don’t practice “being” an emotional condition that could be a moment (instead of a lifetime condition). Just saying. There are other options. 🙂 Share kindness. Be there for each other in difficult times – in the most positive way possible. Assume positive intent. Take care of yourself – and make it a priority worth your time and attention.

I sip my coffee reflecting on other moments. Smiling. Breathing. Ready to begin again.

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂

It’s afternoon. Near the end of the work day. I decide to take my break here, writing and reflecting. It’s been a busy few days since my last bit of writing. Busy with winter weather, and winter power outages. Busy with a bit of leisure, a long weekend that most definitely turned out quite differently than planned (see “winter weather” and “power outages” in the previous sentence). It was still a very enjoyable weekend…

Winter view of an icy dawn through the kitchen window.

…There was this one thing, though…

“Are you breathing?” It’s not an unusual question for my Traveling Partner to ask me, with varying levels of aggravation, frustration, or concern. I get frustrated by it, myself – although most of my frustration has had to do with interrupted flow, interrupted reading, interrupted thoughts, interrupted concentration, all interrupted by what felt like a fairly silly question. “Am I breathing? Well… for fucks’ sake, how am I not??” I would think it to myself, before “checking in with myself” to determine whether, for some reason, I might actually be “holding my breath”. I mean, seriously though, why would I be holding my breath?? BUT… and it’s legit… my Traveling Partner cares about me, loves me, and wants me to thrive, so… why would he be making shit up and just randomly interrupting my every leisure moment with such a silly sounding question?

…Tl;dr? He wouldn’t.

…Frustrating for both of us…

Monday I found myself crying over this well-intended, concerned, loving question. “Are you breathing?” I’d fucking had it with that question. Why does it keep coming up?? I cried and cried, all of my frustration with this one question spilling over as tears, and – possibly for the first time – I let myself actually think about the question. I got angry with it. I fought it in my head. I denied it with reasonable arguments, alone in the twilight of a quiet dimly lit room (I was at that point on the edge of a stress-migraine), but I was actually fully considering the question, and what could be driving it.

…I caught myself “holding my breath” while I sat there thinking and crying, too, more than once… Well… shit… so… this is thing?

My partner checked on me a couple times, offering hugs and sympathy, and assurances of his love and abiding affection. He maintained a non-judgmental approach, and gave me room to have my experience without taking it personally. He “let me cry” – and I needed that. See… this “breathing thing” sources with some very old trauma. Very very old. Ancient pain. Unresolved heartache and chaos and damage, from a lifetime ago. Well, damn… I guess, as my partner pointed out to me encouragingly later on, I may just be, finally and at long last, in a place in life where I can actually tackle some things that were too big for me at any earlier point. Squelched and squashed down for so long… erupting unexpectedly in a fury of tears and sadness, like a timer going off.

Later he shares an interesting article with me that seems potentially relevant, about some people experiencing “email apnea“. Reading it gave me a framework to understand the physical behavior of “not breathing” and how that may be affecting my experience moment-to-moment if it is any sort of common concern. A way to understand the observed phenomenon without mistreating myself, and giving me a way to put it into the context of my TBI, or my PTSD, or both. Well… I like science, and I like empirical evidence much more than opinion… so… I took advantage of the technology at hand to begin taking a measurement of my blood oxygen if my partner expressed concern that I wasn’t breathing… I’ll admit, hoping very much to “prove this wrong”. It only took a few such measurements to have to acknowledge that he is noticing something that could be a legitimate concern. I can’t take “real” personally. Instead, I put practices in place to get better at noticing if I am holding my breath (without requiring someone else to point it out), and also to breath more fully without having to actually stop every-damned-thing and actually meditate.

I know to expect incremental change over time to be slow. I know my results may vary. I know I need practice. That’s okay, too; new need? New practice. Hilariously… kinda the same old practice in a fairly basic way. Breathe. Seriously? (I hear myself laugh out loud. Okay… at least I’m still laughing.)

…By the end of the day, we’d had a lovely day together, one of the most pleasant days I can recall in a while… just… really comfortable, connected, pleasant, romantic, tender, wholesome, and just… fun. Good bit of positive reinforcement there. I smile thinking about the day. Today I keep practicing, and find myself recalling scenes from Demon Slayer (season 1), in which the hero, Tanjiro, is learning “Total Concentration Breathing”. I smile and feel considerably less insecure, or sad, or diminished, or frustrated, or put out, or inconvenienced, or… yeah, I’m not feeling anything but love, and gratitude; I have a partner who cares – literally – that I am able to breathe. That’s pretty amazing.

I smile. I check my blood oxygen monitor. 99%. Nice. I pause for a moment to breathe mindfully… and begin again.

I slept poorly last night. I managed one good nap, and spent the remainder of the night restlessly drifting in and out of a half-waking, half-dreaming state. Most of the dreams were unpleasant. I woke and started the day. My Traveling Partner woke me, unaware I hadn’t slept well, or deeply, or enough. I couldn’t fall asleep again, and even later, when I could have napped, I felt “sleep-averse” and unwilling to do so. I did try…

…Later, I walked the forested trails at Airport Park. The pictures I took seem more real than my recollection of the hike, which is a tiny bit sad; I had the park entirely to myself today, and it was even a quiet day at the nearby airfield. I heard nothing but birdsong and breezes. I saw woodpeckers, and robins. I spotted chipmunks darting away in the underbrush, and bunnies bounding across the path ahead. I listened to the creek chuckle at my fatigue as I crossed the bridge with great care. It’s slippery from the rain and the generally slickness of the various molds and mosses and whatnot that make the bridge so treacherous in winter, nothing unusual in that. The humor would only be in seeing the silly human lose her careful balance.

Watch your step… or at least pay attention.

…Losing my balance came later in the day, while attempting to bake biscuits. LOL Thankfully, with good human, and the patience of a loving partner, it was only a moment. The moment passes. It was brief.

…I’m so tired. I’m not good for much this evening. It’s too early to go to bed, and as tired as I am I don’t feel “sleepy”, yet. I’ll find something else to do. A video game, maybe? Read? Plan the garden? I can at least begin again. 🙂

Perspective can make so much difference in how I experience the moment.

Sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. Artificial rain…although… it is raining outside this morning. This particular video also has the sound of a crackling fire, a river flowing nearby…and honestly, sounds rather like a rainy day here, in my own living room, on a day when the creek is flooding. It’s a relaxing soundscape, and tends to push distractions out of my immediate awareness very well.

…The relaxing, soothing, comforting, background soundscape tends to be very helpful with managing my anxiety, which has been coming and going rather a lot the past week or so. I could have expected it, I suppose. When my values and my circumstances feel as though they are in opposition to each other, or somehow at odds, I don’t feel “comfortable”, and the longer it goes on, the more my anxiety increases in intensity, and the frequency with which it surges into the forefront of my consciousness also increases. It’s an “early warning system” that there may be a decision-making point coming up very quickly, or that the time to reflect on things and make other choices may be upon me. I could “fight it” with soothing sounds and do nothing more. I could meditate regularly, “accept my lot in life”, and struggle with the anxiety and discomfort – or attempt to medicate it away – and settle for quiet misery.

…Or I can acknowledge that I am unhappy, seek to determine what the primary cause of that discontent may be, and consider other options… this is particular effective if, after all that, I’m prepared to choose change. I mean… maybe the options aren’t really an improvement? That’s certainly a scenario that comes up now and again. I’ve often found that getting to that place where I can critically consider and factually determine that the present options don’t result in a clear likely improvement also serves to reduce my anxiety – it’s more about giving the matter real thought, and allowing myself the consideration and respect required to resolve my discontent with action, where action would do so.

I would use the example of working a job that isn’t ideal. Maybe it really is a poor fit, and making a change would be an improvement? Maybe the available options would not actually present a legitimate shot at the desired specific improvement at all, and would therefore be of no real use? Maybe the options are “more of the same” and “more of the same-r-er”, and time would be better spent in improving skills, and investing time in other endeavors during leisure hours? Maybe it really is time to move on to some other thing? I’m not a fan of reacting in the moment with drastic action built on an emotional moment. Personally? I like self-reflection. I value introspection. I seek self-awareness. I’d ideally prefer all of my decision-making be built on those qualities, and a hearty helping of perspective, self-respect, and non-attachment, besides! 🙂

“Having it all” comes in many forms. What do I really want? What matters most? Where does lifelong fulfillment lie on this path? Am I headed down a path that even leads me in the direction I hope to go? No map.

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. It’s not relevant that the sound of it “isn’t real”, particular when I’m seeing the rain fall beyond the window. What I see and what I hear are well-aligned. Isn’t there real value in also having my circumstances and professional values also aligned? I’m just saying; I have choices. There are verbs involved. My results may vary…

…And I also get to begin again. 🙂