Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5

Weird few days. Headaches. Neuralgia. Vertigo. Not my best experience, honestly, but I’m fortunate to have it in the context of being loved and supported, so… there’s that. It could be so much worse. I hold on to that and sip my coffee. Sunday morning. Low key day to chill and get some housekeeping done, gently, patiently, and with self-compassion and respect for my present limitations. I can do this. 🙂

“Doing my best” is a slippery construct, sometimes, and I’m often hard on myself when I fail to live up to my own expectations – which are sometimes higher, sometimes lower, that the expectations other have of me may be. Very human. I don’t “look unwell”, generally. I’m going about my business, often smiling, probably seeming relatively relaxed. It’s an appearance. I put almost as much effort into “being okay” as I do into getting shit done when I’m not entirely okay. I don’t guess that’s a requirement, it’s just something I’ve tended to do. Admittedly, it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does tend to improve shared experiences, mostly. It has the major drawback, though, of routinely putting people in the position of expecting more of me than I may be up for. I think about that as I sip my coffee… how to balance “transparency” and openness with staying positive, and enjoying life every minute I can… it’s tricky.

I listen to the rain fall. It’s not “my” rain. It’s not actually raining this morning. It’s a video of rain, soothing and beautiful.

My Traveling Partner has been kind and helpful, and maintained considerate awareness of my current health concerns. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, I know. We had a great day out and about yesterday, a rarity in the pandemic to go out at all and together has been rarer still. Yesterday was fun, and also exhausting. We napped after dinner for awhile, and enjoyed a relaxed quiet evening of videos later. I smile every time I think of some detail of yesterday. Good time together.

I’m trying to stay out of the news feeds. I’m frustrated by that. I enjoy reading. I value being “current” on important affairs. The news industry has become so tainted by social media practices chasing likes, clicks, views, engagement, and ad revenue that I don’t get much positive value from reading the news. Repeats of repeats of shares of Twitter quotes masquerade as “news”, with click-bait headlines and thumbnails that often have no relationship at all to the material in the article is not a useful way to stay in touch with the world; it just drops of fuck ton of emotional baggage on me in my own living room. I’m very much over it. It’s not good for my emotional wellness, and life is too short to waste it in that way.

I am already thinking about the holidays. How best to spend limited holiday funds is on my mind. What does my partner truly want, really need – what would delight him on a Giftmas morning? (Yes, dammit, I’m thinking about Giftmas already. I blame big-box home improvement chains, but also? I plan ahead and with the postal service being slowed down intentionally, I don’t think I should wait until December to order anything that would need to be delivered.) Something big? Something small? Blow all the funds on a single item? Several somethings? Something practical? Some luxury doo-dad he might not buy for himself but would enjoy? (I mean, “luxury” is relative, obviously – there is no sports car on this list, no diamond cuff-links, no Saw-Stop table saws; all of that it entirely out of reach, for now, but there is no shortage of smaller luxuries left to consider.)

…And “what about me”? What do I want for the holiday? What I’ve got, really. A bit more of that, a bit easier, a bit more relaxed, more laughter, more smiles, more hugs, more loving… I’m at a weird unsettling place in my life where more good exists than bad, more comfortable moments than uncomfortable ones, trauma being healed rather than inflicted, and generally, day to day, enough of all that I need to thrive. I often feel a bit of a jerk when I’m having a rough go of things (emotionally or physically) because of that; it seems unreasonable to struggle when things are so generally good, you know? That’s what got me thinking about “taking it easier on myself” and being kinder to the woman in the mirror. Treating myself badly because it “doesn’t seem right” to have a rough time with something in the context of a good life only leads me down the path toward treating others similarly poorly. Not helpful. This year? I want a kind, loving, genial, tasty, joyful holiday characterized by appreciation of the small details and shared experiences that make is so warm and wonderful. It’s the sort of gift that requires my own effort and consideration as much as anyone else’s. That’s okay with me, too.

Seems a good day to tidy up, and maybe to bake something. It’s certainly a lovely moment to begin again.

Always with the taking, eh? 😉

I’ve got a couple days off ahead of me, and a long weekend to enjoy with my Traveling Partner. I hope we do. We’ve had a couple heartfelt, heavy conversations about intimacy (in general, and specifically) recently, and it’s on my mind. I don’t question that we love each other, or even that we’re “right” for each other. Love simply requires some work and attention and there are verbs involved, even in matters of love and loving. It’s not a romantic crisis, so much as a reminder to put in the time, the attention, and the work that love requires to thrive. Coasting on the magic is unfair to a partnership, and it’s a poor way to treat love. The pandemic has been hard on the two of us. We are each having our own experience, walking our own path, and sharing a complex journey. It takes some balancing, some yielding, some compromises, encouragement, connection, and willingness to repeat what works, and also to face what doesn’t. 🙂

I may not write much this weekend. I don’t know. I guess I’ll see where the days take me. I have this interesting intimacy-building exercise tumbling about in my thoughts… maybe “cocktails and questions” would be a fun pandemic date night? There is a whole universe of classic and modern cocktails I’ve never tried (I don’t drink much)… could be fun.

My vertigo seems to have cleared up. I just have this headache, now, and it is familiar. My arthritis pain is also as comfortable as an old friend in comparison to the frightful chaos of the vertigo. I’m almost happy to “just be in pain”.

Anyway. The days ahead are likely to be introspective, intimate, and deeply personal. Maybe romantic. I’d rather enjoy those wholly that attempt to juggling reflecting on them with the real-life experience of enjoying them, so I may be quiet for a few days. That’s a good thing. 🙂 Another way to begin again.

Happy Monday, y’all. It’s been hours since my morning coffee, and the afternoon is heating up quickly. I’ve got my bottle of cold water at my desk, and a covered mug of hot noodles for a quick lunch. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, doing shop things. I’m staring into an abyss of spreadsheets and a to-do list that is frankly embarrassing in length. I take a long drink of water and remind myself it is a job, and I’m being paid to do it. This time is not my own (well, I mean, right now is my lunch break, so… that’s mine).

I breathe deeply. My exhale becomes a heavy sigh. I’m mostly fine. I’m just sort of cross. This has, so far, been one of those days that seems as if every attempt I make at affection, appreciation, positive connection… any bid at all really, directed to my partner is met with… a surly, rather terse, somewhat parental tone. I’m annoyed with that. It’s not at all where my own head is at. I’m finding, as a result, that I’m just irked with the whole fucking day I find myself wrapped in. I’m okay with saying I’m annoyed by it. Real enough. What to do about it is another matter. So far, continued attempts are not being met well, so I’ve sort of given up on it for the time being. I’m in “task processing mode”, focused on practical matters and getting shit done, one step at a time, without becoming emotionally invested at all. Considering how much I enjoy my partner’s appreciation, affection, and approval, it’s sometimes very tough to let it go and hold on to the awareness that we’re each having our own experience.

Honestly, we’re a hilarious partnership. We adore each other, and generally manage the day-to-day with humor and delighted affection for each other. Sometimes it’s not that easy, and my brain injury definitely gets in the way of things now and then. I try to be patient with myself, even when he’s having trouble being patient with me, himself. I work hard on not taking his impatience with me at all personally; I know that it is not. I can be surprisingly clumsy sometimes, or awkward, or hapless, or somehow offset from his understanding of whatever the hell is going on at the moment. We are each having our own experience, that’s unavoidable. We are not one being, one mind. We’re two entirely separate human primates, making a go of life together. 🙂 A shared journey, not an identical one.

I give my noodles a chance to cool a bit. I don’t really feel up to adding a burned mouth to my list of bullshit to deal with today. lol I have choices. I can change my experience – and change my perspective on it (I was pretty irritable and on the edge of tears when I started this, now I’m just hungry*. lol). Resilience doesn’t seem to be about never reacting, or avoiding the occasional bad mood, so much as being about shortening that period of time between when a feeling or experience develops, and when I’ve gained useful perspective on it. It’s enough to be able to make that journey. I sometimes even feel that I’m getting pretty good at doing it with a measure of skill. 🙂

…I sure know how to begin again… 😀

*By the time I finished writing through my lunch break, and having a bit of a pleasant chat with my partner about shop-related matters, and connecting in a loving way, I was once again in a comfortable place emotionally. Feels good. Didn’t honestly take that long to get from “there” to here, and the lack of residual negative emotion clogging up my experience of self (and this Monday) speaks volumes for how far I’ve really come since 2013. I’m sometimes pretty blown away when I reflect on the likelihood that a bit of emotional weather of this sort could have been days or weeks worth of feelings of despair, futility, and irritation. That’s a long way from where I am now. 🙂 Worth celebrating. I slurp my noodles contentedly. This works.

The ringing in my ears is ferocious today. Like a jumbled up combination of a distant (persistent) phone ringing next to a fire alarm, surrounded by chimes. I have the sense that my hearing may even be impaired, though generally that’s a bit of an illusion (tinnitus is very distracting, though). My back aches – arthritis pain. My head aches, too, not sure why, but sometimes “it’s a set” rather than just one something or other hurting.

The work day is behind me, and I sort of feel as though this could/should be a “joyful moment” – but my physical limitations at the moment are aggravating my partner, who is, himself, aggravated by other things – most particularly, his frustration with a new tool that he’d like to upgrade, and has the parts with which to do so, but… sometimes things are not as simple as all that. Real life getting real. Instead of his infectious delight with a new tool, I’m breathing in his profound frustration, which is not at all pleasant. I wish I could help, but aside from offering up one suggestion that seemed to have some small bit of promise, I’m just staying out of the fucking way. It’s the best I can do, right now.

Instead of getting mixed up in his moment, I’ve got mine, right here. My phone has been laggy and less-than-ideally responsive lately, and with the addition of the home automation application – which serves best when it runs smoothly – I am painfully aware of the poor device performance. What I am not, however, is “surprised”. My SD card is 100% absolutely entirely full of photos and videos… and when that happened, some months ago, I haplessly went ahead and told the silly thing to save new ones to the device storage instead. Now that’s full too. Not a little full… I’m talking 10,000+ high resolution images. LOL So, after some apparently-necessary reminding by my partner, I’m cleaning that mess up. With some hesitation (I’ve definitely got some “hoarder ancestry”), I checked “erase after importing”, and clicked “import”… now, it’s a matter of waiting… and writing. 🙂

I take a breath. Relax. Turn my attention to my Traveling Partner when he comes to me with his stress and aggravation. He’s disappointed – it’s an exciting moment to acquire a new tool, and when it doesn’t meet expectations, for some reason, particularly reasons that render the tool no longer a functional tool, it’s a whole other order of magnitude of disappointment. Great customer service was a selling point for the brand… but… so far? Not actually “great”. Well, shit. Here I am, still wishing I could help, still got nothing to offer but my sympathy, my compassion, and my unfortunate empathy. (I say “unfortunate” because I don’t really want to feel this disappointment and frustration alongside him in such a visceral way – it’s unpleasant for both of us to feel this, and my empathy is not helpful or useful, in this instance. He’s having his own experience. I’m mostly working on “being here” for him, and not making it worse, while I have mine.

Fuck. Damn, I was hoping to be feeling the soaring heights of his delight, right about now. Still wishing I could properly help.

…6303 items imported of 10,176. Progress.

My work trip to Seattle fell through. I guess I’m not surprised, although I was momentarily quite disappointed. I’m okay being home. I was able to cancel all the reservations for travel and lodging without any penalties, which was an unexpected success. My partner made a point of mentioning – while also being very grateful and appreciative that I’d be staying home – he would miss having some solo time to work on things around the house. I changed up my plans and found a room on the coast at a reasonable price, and made new reservations for an entirely other experience. I asked for, and got, Friday off to extend the time I can offer my partner for his own purposes.

…My head begins to ache when I recall that he’d asked for that time primarily to work with the new tool that is sure to be returned before I ever check into that room on the coast, and I realize I’m clenching my jaw in sympathetic frustration…

…Was I sufficiently encouraging and supportive…? I wonder to myself and drink more water. (Maybe this headache will go away if I drink more water?)

…Fuck this headache…!

I think over books to read. I think about videos I’ve been meaning to watch. My head pounds in the background. I drink more water.

…My bag was already packed for my business trip. I won’t have to repack it, just swap the shined boots for sandals, and make a point to throw in my sketch book and some pens & pencils, and maybe my watercolors. All I’ve got to do between now and Thursday, to prepare for my short getaway is resist the urge to pull something out of that bag to wear sooner. LOL I think I’ve got this. 🙂 Not that hard.

…8234 items imported…

I feel a moment of trepidation – there likely won’t be any images (of mine) on my phone at all. I could have been more precise, selecting a few to keep on the device for… reasons… (Is this how we accumulate bullshit and baggage? Why yes, I think it is…) I sigh to myself. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of that lingering attachment – there are always new pictures. Always. 🙂

I watch the final steps of the import process playout as a fast sequence of thumbnails in the import window. Entertaining. I feel the pain medication I took before I sat down start to have the desired effect. I hear my Traveling Partner close a door somewhere else… it wasn’t slammed, so that’s progress. (I still wish I could actually help soothe him and ease his stress and disappointment, but we’re each having our own experience, and there’s no real way to it differently, I think.)

The shards of sharp summer sunlight sneaking through the fabric of the window shade pierce my vision, and add to my headache. I recall the vestiges of a dream I had recently, in which bright sunshine was “shining directly on my brain” through my eyes, and as much as I covered them or dodged the light, I could not escape the blinding pain. Strangely, it wasn’t a nightmare at all, just an odd dream, filled with frustration. The recollection dissipates before I can assemble it more completely, and I lose interest in thinking about it further.

I finish my bottle of water, head still aching. I know that once I get up for another, I won’t return to this… it’ll be the beginning of some other thing I will be doing, then… but I don’t yet know what. I sigh, letting the air out of my lungs, and refilling them completely a time or two. Wondering what to make for dinner.

It’s a good time to begin again.

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂