Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5

By now, you’ve probably found yours, right? Productive distractions that pass the time during pandemic “stay at home” orders, or worse yet, during actual quarantine. A productive distraction staves off boredom, and prevents looming chaos from overtaking everything. Mine has been my aquarium, generally, and books. My Traveling Partner has been focused on games and gaming, and tweaking the pc that drives that experience. For us, it’s been helpful that we each have our own “thing” to focus on, the result being we generally have something fun to talk about, any time.

Consideration matters so much right now, for those who are “sheltering in place” with or among other people. Tempers can fray so easily. Letting small shit stay small helps a lot. Mostly it’s all small shit. It’s the letting go that requires the verbs. lol

…My experience this morning “feels different”… I am typing on a different keyboard. My steady regular keyboard is badly in need of cleaning, and I disconnected it to do that. My Traveling Partner said “here, try this one“, and it remains in place, even this morning, loyal favorite forgotten over there, by the stack of things-yet-to-do. This one feels similar-but-different, softer, somehow. Tolerant of my heavy key-stroke, but quiet. Tactile, without being very “click-y”. The strike of each key is vaguely muffled. The “click” is more a “tap” than a click. The keys respond to my touch so fast that I feel as if I am typing “as fast as I think”. It’s nice. Also… the numbers on each key light up. (lol Why does that delight me so?) I enjoy the sensation of typing on the new keyboard. (How many millions of key strokes have I dropped on my old keyboard in the past 6 years of heavy use?) I decided yesterday to stick with this one, and programmed the keys to be illuminated in a lovely dark-ish lavender hue, which changes to a bright greenΒ  with each keystroke, quickly fading to teal as I continue to type. So fun. πŸ˜€

I am distracted by the novelty of typing on a new keyboard. It’s a pleasant distraction.

We meant to watch a movie together yesterday… we spent the day on our projects, and in between (and later on) watched tech videos of various sorts. It was a delightfully productive and fun day together. I mention it because, seriously, this “life in the time of pandemic” gets pretty fucking “real” sometimes, and it has made a lot of difference to my experience to find moments of joy and delight, and to savor those, rather than sit around staring into the maw of media talking heads regurgitating COVID-19 content. I’ve no idea whether we’ll watch that movie tonight… I know we’ll find something fun to share, whether or not it is a movie isn’t very relevant to the shared experience of joy and love. It’s just one way to get there.

What if I were alone, though, how would I “find moments of joy” then? Probably still in the pleasure of caring for my aquarium(s), and reading still more books, honestly. πŸ™‚ I don’t find myself all that complicated, generally, I suppose. Small things delight me (a new fish, a new keyboard, a favorite book), and I entertain myself pretty easily (books, writing, painting, gardening, aquarium keeping… it’s a long list). I fret for a moment, trying to imagine being truly bored right now, and what it would take to lift myself from that boredom. What would I do? I think I would still read books; I can’t really imagine what it would be like to be someone who “doesn’t read”. Lots of libraries are making audio books available for free, too… it is a great time to catch up on reading. lol Online learning? Plenty of that to be had, too. Online travel? There are some very interesting documentaries and streams of a variety of exotic locations. Museums have streamed walk-throughs of their collections, and those are available online, too. Not so interested in someone else’s words, thoughts, or perspective? Pen & ink, my friend – say what you’ve got to say. Self-publish on Amazon. Become the author of the narrative someone else will read. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee, taking a moment to appreciate the grocery delivery service that keeps me supplied, the farm workers who harvested the beans, the shipper who transported them, the roaster who roasted them, the distributor who supplied them to the grocery store… How can any one of us not recognize how interconnected we all are? We are all in this together (even though we are each having our own experience). Even our own individual experience is built upon more than the mere sum of our own individual decision-making; there is, too, the matrix of coincidences and circumstances that is the combined force of what happens, and what is chosen, out of reach of our own consideration, in every moment. It’s not all “about us”, regardless who we are. This is a great cup of coffee. In a very real sense, I did not “make it all by myself” – all I did was grind the beans, and pour water over them. A rather small contribution to the outcome, frankly. lol

I find myself appreciating how fortunate I am in these challenging times. I miss my friends, though. I miss brunch on Saturdays. I miss shopping together over a lunch break and laughing about something silly. I miss dinners out. I miss strolling a crowded farmer’s market. I miss “community”. Yep. Even me. I do miss the presence of other people. Part of feeling fortunate right now, is about simply not being alone in this. Again, I find myself feeling fortunate. I remind myself to write letters, emails, and send texts to friends. We really are all in this together, and distance is not always about miles. πŸ™‚

Another day of living in the time of pandemic. Another opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

However much we love the people we love, however good the hearts of those around us, especially in such trying times, it’s not a reasonable expectation to think it will always be easy, or that we will always “get it right”, just because we want to (perhaps even more than we usually do). Sometimes an otherwise comfortable moment may skid sideways, and suddenly become a challenge, or moment of conflict, hurt, or sorrow. So human.

…I could say “deal with it” or “happens to everyone”, and try to shrug it off irritably. I’m not really that person, though, and more often, I simply retreat to “sort myself out” and cry for a few minutes. Generally just some handful of tears of frustration and disappointment, sometimes tears of hurt, or tears of anger. It’s true, though; I cry over shit. I used to be very strict with myself over crying, working furiously to shut it down, stuff it into a dark corner of my consciousness, wrap it up quickly, hide it, wiping those errant tears away as quickly as I could, before anyone could see them, splash some water on my face and move on with things. It was not a helpful approach. Now? Now I just go ahead with it, generally, and cry. (I often seek out some privacy for that purpose, because I also don’t find someone else’s intervention, disapproval, need to “fix” things, or whatever like that at all helpful in those moments, either; sometimes I just need to cry.)

I only bring it up because I often feel some better after having – and experiencing – my emotional moment. It matters to be present with those feelings. To feel and acknowledge them, without shame, without guilt, can be incredibly freeing, and a big step toward restoring balance.

Things in the world are pretty scary right now. The media isn’t doing much to help with that, with the ceaseless 24/7 COVID-19 coverage painting every news story as somehow “about” that, and presenting a picture of the world that somehow suggests there is nothing else newsworthy going on, at all. It’s a weird lens through which to view the world. Eventually, it may “get to you”. Go ahead. Have that moment. It’s okay to cry over it, too. Give yourself a break if you do; it’s a very human thing, and honestly, not at all harmful. πŸ™‚ You may even feel a bit better for a while, having giving yourself a chance to feel it.

…Then, begin again. Move on from that moment. Let it go. Grief is a real emotion. Feel it when you feel it. It does not have to own you, or make you over in a new image. You can choose to let it go, when you’re ready.

I am sipping my coffee in the studio. Starting my day. It’s another work day. Another Tuesday. Another day in the time of pandemic. My Traveling Partner wakes early. We’re both struggling with physical pain, this morning. Rainy day ahead? Maybe. I don’t give myself the time to over think it; it is what it is. Another sip of coffee, and I do what I can to let even the mundanity of physical pain “just go”. (It’s not that effective, right now, and my results definitely vary on this point.) I breathe, exhale, and relax. Just another work day in the “new normal”.

I glance at the clock; already time to begin the day in earnest. (I’ve been making an effort to keep to my usual schedule for a sense of normalcy.) Time, in fact, to begin again. πŸ˜‰

Another Monday morning, and yes, a Monday morning during the time of pandemic. There will be about 1 in 7 such days, for now until whenever life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Where are you finding your joy in the spaces between news articles about COVID-19? You’ll definitely want to find a bit of joy, the weight of this health crisis is pretty significant, and in spite of that, there is still purpose in life, still small delights to experience, and still a vast expanse of human experience to explore. πŸ™‚

If the circumstances are getting to you, and you have not already tried this next practice, maybe give it a go: breathe. Meditate. (You’ve got time at home to practice!) Take a step back from the 24/7 news cycle. Start a “sanity project” that takes up a great deal of your cognitive bandwidth, and engages your creative side in a positive way. Improve your quality of life – with what you have on hand. It’s challenging, for sure. It’s something, though, and I’m pretty sure we all need something. πŸ˜‰

None of us are immune to the pandemic facing us all. Be well. Be safe. Wash your hands regularly. Practice social distancing. Stay home. If you’re thinking you’re doing “well enough”, please reconsider; approach the circumstances with a beginner’s mind, trust that there is more you don’t yet know, and do better than your best. I remind myself, too. I could do better.

The weekend was a lovely one, in spite of the pandemic. In spite of the rainy spring weather. In spite of feeling confined at home. There’s not much to say about it. I’m certainly getting better at fitting meditation time into my day-to-day routine. πŸ™‚ I enjoy spending time watching fish swim in the aquarium, and the time I’ve been spending on maintaining it, and improving it, has been worthwhile, and satisfying. No easy distractions from the things I could be doing at home that need to be done. The results are pretty good. πŸ™‚ The stress level at home surprisingly well-managed.

…Another Monday… another opportunity to begin again. πŸ˜€

Another working day spent in the time of pandemic, another opportunity to connect with my Traveling Partner more deeply, with more openness, and greater… something, something, and etc. I mean, love still takes some work, and being my best self still takes real commitment to self-awareness, and practice (which feels pretty hit/miss sometimes, for results). We are each individuals. We’re in this together. Shared experience. Individual experience. All the overlap between. If we share nothing, we lose our connection, over time. If we share everything, we lose our sense of individual self and agency. There is a balance. In these days of isolation and confinement, it sometimes feels like dancing – the awkward, often self-conscious dancing of youthful uncertainty, which is a bit uncomfortable at times; we’re not kids anymore.

I worked a fairly routine day yesterday. Each time I took a break, I left my studio (which is also my “office”) and discovered some new thing had been done around the house. My Traveling Partner keeps busy with various quality-of-life-focused projects. It passes the time in a healthy way.

…He moved the furniture around…

You know, it could have been drama and bullshit, but honestly, it’s just furniture. If we don’t like where it is – and I mean either of us, over time, could decide it is a poor fit – we can move it around differently. We have that freedom. We have that power. Each of us. Both of us. I managed to find peace and balance with all of it super quickly, which was nice. No one needs my drama and bullshit right now, right? I’m unsettled by the quantity of small changes as the aesthetic of our home inches further and further from what I most ideally enjoy, myself, but there really are two people living here, and it is our home, not exclusively mine. It matters to be open to new arrangements of things. There’s so much joy in it when we both feel a comfortable sense of place. When we both feel at home.

The street is nearly silent outside this morning. These days there is very little commuter traffic through this neighborhood. People who can, really are working from home. People who don’t need to work are generally really staying home. A quick trip out for supplies revealed a world in which suburban men commonly work in the garage, or in their yards, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, building and making things to improve their quality of life, and that of their families. I saw a dad-aged man teaching a little girl to ride a bicycle… on a Wednesday. It was beautiful. It got me wondering, decades from now, how will we view this time of pandemic, looking back? Our perspectives are not universal.

Some people will remember store shelves stripped bare, and being unable to buy stable food items, and basic household items.

Some people will remember the profiteering, the incompetence and mismanagement, the heinous disregard for employee health and safety shown by some companies.

Some people will remember having to work from home, after years of begging for the privilege of being able to do so.

Some people will remember being sick, or supporting sick family members.

Some people will remember the anxiety, the chaos, the fear-mongering, and the uncertainty.

Some people will remember losing their jobs – others will remember being forced to work.

…And some people, who were children in the time of pandemic, will remember long happy weeks at home, with their parents and siblings, connecting over fun projects, entertained, loving, and they will, perhaps, look back on this time with real fondness, as a time when they enjoyed all the love and attention from their parents that they could ever possibly need. I like to think about that as a tiny pin-prick of an upside to all this COVID-19 stuff; some children will get loved more, by attentive parents who perhaps don’t realize that their efforts to stave off boredom, and keep their youngsters developmentally on track, is making some amazing memories.

Then, I frown over a news article pointing out how terrifying this time must be for people in abusive relationships, or households that experience domestic violence. 😦 Let’s don’t be that. We can each do so much better than that.

Be considerate and gentle with your words. It can really wear even your nearest and dearest down quite a lot, over time, to be in such close contact for so long. Social distancing can complicate that – you’re probably not hanging out with anyone else. The lack of variety may serve to highlight small things, which can make them appear to be The Next Big Deal Breaker. Doesn’t have to be that way. πŸ™‚ Choose kindness. Choose authenticity – and positive intent. Be your best self, even though that definitely takes practice.

I’m saying it to you, because I’m saying it to me. There are verbs involved. Work. Effort. Commitment. Self-reflection. A lot of do-overs and new beginnings. A lot of practice.

I’m ready for another work day in the time of pandemic. I’m ready to begin again. πŸ™‚

Another morning in “the time of pandemic”, another good cup of coffee, another work day (for me), and it feels simultaneously very ordinary, and very peculiar. The news articles don’t ease up, not even a little, and probably with good reason; the more ordinary any of this feels, the less likely people will take it seriously – and it’s very serious. Take care of. your health, you precious, strange, delightful, unique human being, you. There’s no one else quite like you, you know, and we’re all in this together. πŸ™‚

As more people do get tested for COVID-19, more people are confirmed to have it. This should not come as a surprise. I encourage you to also consider how vast the numbers of people with no/minimal symptoms who do have it (and are contagious with it) may be roaming around assuming they – and every hapless bystander they may approach – are “fine”. It’s not the obviously sick people I find myself most puzzled by; we know we should stay home when we’re sick, right? It’s the less obviously sick people that cause me most concern. American culture is so deeply infected with the odd notion that only the highly productive among us have value (while also often being underpaid, and devalued monetarily by businesses, primarily to improve the bottom line at no great value to those underpaid employees) – we don’t want to yield a single work day to our own health and self-care. Crazy. Literally crazy. I’m terrified by the reflexive recent calls to “go back to work” and “back to normal” – this is not a normal time, and the pretense of normalcy may get a lot of people killed.

It is what it is. I breathe, exhale, relax – and let that go, for now, with self-reminders to remain “socially distant”, for real. Honestly, though, aside from the working from home piece, it’s not all that different for me. I tend not to “gather in groups”, generally. lol

…Why does “piece” look spelled incorrectly? Weird.

I consider the work day, in the context of the week in progress. I consider my current “sanity project” during this challenging time; my aquarium has been a source of fun, of work, of further developing project management skills, of connecting with my Traveling Partner… well-chosen for a balance of interesting details, required planning, and effort. His project seems to provide him similar value, although it is very different. We share the details in conversation, and give each other a hand with things that need “an extra pair of hands” (I could not have moved the aquarium to the other side of the fireplace, for example, without his help, and practical thinking).

Do you have a project to occupy your thoughts? A good book to read? Are you spending quality time with yourself?

I sip my coffee, feeling mostly content, in spite of a news feed that very much reads like the banner headlines from a mobile game called “Plague“. It’s a little too real world right now… Here’s a video of an actual doctor talking about playing the game.

I glance at the time. Still time to meditate before work. More important than ever. πŸ™‚