Archives for posts with tag: tidying up

Damn today has been fairly shitty. My partner and I are both still sick, and we have been fussing at each other as if we were adversaries on opposing sides of a long-standing conflict who are forced to interact through diplomatic circumstances. Icy moments interspersed with snarling. Tears and slammed doors. The increasingly full waste baskets accumulating used tissues are a visual reminder moment-to-moment that we really are both just sick. It’s unpleasant – it’ll pass.

I thought maybe a nice dish of coffee gelato might be refreshing. I lost interest quickly; limited appetite, even after 10 days of being ill, and I’m just sort of “meh” on food. Without meaning to, I gave up cannabis at some point in the past several days… couldn’t vape. The coughing it caused was intense and painful. I might just leave it as is see how things go. (I mean… if I don’t miss it, does it matter?)

I’m pretty “meh” on any number of subjects right now. Being sick has a tendency to refocus my attention. This afternoon, my attention landed on my rather messy collection of music and video playlists, and more than any meal or flavor this really engaged me; disorder in my environment, over time, adds up to disorder in my thinking. Could just be me, but it’s a thing I know to watch out for. It was my default “Watch Later” list on YouTube that got my attention. It was woefully out-of-date, clogged with shit I’d already watched, or had lost interest in. I cleaned that up, then noticed that a particular music playlist had several tracks that had subsequently been deleted from YouTube… so… I cleaned those up, too. I noticed that my “everything” playlist (literally just all the videos I’ve liked/enjoyed/been fascinated by in one place – b-sides and one-hitters, cool visual art, just… everything) didn’t actually have all of my everything in it, any more… there were new things added to other playlists that never got saved over. I cleaned that up, too. My “favorites” playlist seemed a bit stale… so many tracks that aren’t really “favorites” at this point that should live on over on the “everything” list instead. I cleaned that up, too. As I worked from list to list, tidying up, I experienced that same surge of satisfaction and contentment that I get when I clean the bathroom, kitchen, or tidy some particular space such that everywhere I look is just… right. The details matter, when it comes to our sanity, right? 🙂

I’m not saying that any of this is a cure for stress or anxiety, or in any way a substitute for proper therapy, medical care, or healthy practices generally. It isn’t. It’s more a nice addition, and something to do on a sick day when I’m feeling fussy. Well, I was feeling fussy. Now I’m mostly just chilling. A better feel for a summer Saturday. The music plays on. Videos on one monitor, and this “blank page” on the other. Part of what feels so good about self-care is simply the obvious; self-care feels good. We all want to be cared for. Sometimes I forget how easily that can start with how I care for myself. 🙂

I’m also thinking ahead to my camping trip. I don’t always sleep well when I’m camping. Those wee hours of darkness and solitude are sometimes best passed with some sort of entertainment available – a good book, something to study, some music. Having all my playlists sorted and “in good working order” could be handy. One of my camping trips, I slept during the afternoons almost exclusively. I was wakeful and restless during the night, eager to hit the trail in the mornings, so it was afternoons when I took my ease and got rested. Those were long nights. LOL That location had no connectivity.

Self-care matters. What does it take to feel cared for? How much of that can I do for myself? That kind of emotional self-sufficiency doesn’t just lighten the load on our partners and friends, it also provides a level of all-over independence that reduces how easily we succumb to heartache, loneliness, or manipulation. I feel a surge of anger that I got so sick at all – I’ve got shit to do!! Places to go! Fitness to pursue! A garden to take care of! Meals I’d like to cook! I glance at the clock, keeping an eye out for timing on the next round of cold remedies to take. This will pass.

…I can tell I am at least starting to feel better; I keep wanting to do more, or to cook, or tackle a project. Attempting to respond to the inclination with real action generally still results in frustration, breaking out in a sweat, getting dizzy or woozy, and just giving myself up to the visceral reminder that yeah, I’m still sick. LOL It’s a very human experience.

…I’m so ready to begin again. 🙂

Well, no, not actually. There’s a breeze. It’s a sunny Autumn afternoon. The only “drafts” I’m actually noticing are those piled up in my blog, left behind, forgotten – until a stray mouse click puts them in front of me.

The titles don’t reveal much.

I suspect some of these are just a smattering of notes, taken in a hurry and left for later, and it is likely that any ideas that really “got me” have already made their way into a post somewhere. The others? Like once-favorite toys, now broken, they have outlived their usefulness, but somehow I fail to do the housekeeping necessary to tidy that shit up. I think about that and sip my soft-drink; an afternoon treat (little more than bottled liquid candy, so definitely a treat). I promise myself to look over these drafts, later… another day, perhaps, and clean them up. As with my physical spaces, I do well when my cognitive “spaces” are kept quite tidy. 🙂 It’s an important detail to know about myself.

Weird day. My arthritis is giving me grief. My consciousness feels… “fractured and wild” somehow, as if distractions are piling on distractions, competing with other distractions, with the whole mess blocking my view of what I thought I had on my mind… or my to do list. Frustrating. I rarely have this much difficulty with “focus”, or, if I do – I’m rarely so acutely aware of the issue in the moment. I feel, emotionally, as if I’d like to just chill and read a book, but I also have real, practical, doubts that I could sustain my focus sufficiently to get through a paragraph without having to start over several times. I would say “how unlike me!” but I am also having a subjective experience of being… I dunno… “a bit of a stranger to myself” just at the moment. It’s a subtle aggravation.

…I could just sit quietly for awhile… that might be quite pleasant…

A visceral awareness of just how much small stuff – decision making, task processing, go-getting, grinding persistent care of self and of household and of family and of just… life fits into a single day hits me hard, like an abrupt smack. I become aware of my headache. My fatigue. A hint of ennui. A desire to “get off my feet” (I’m not standing on them) and “just take it easy” (I’m working a desk job) starts to swamp me – how am I this tired, right now? It makes no sense and I try to “shake it off”, rather comically, rather literally, not at all successfully. S’ok. It’s very human. I breathe, and exhale, and relax, and try to make room for my fundamental humanity to coexist with my rather silly expectations of what I can (or should) do.

Time to recalibrate, give myself a break, and begin again. 🙂

My last day at my previous job was Wednesday. It’s Friday, today. I spent much of yesterday “overhauling” my studio (which is also my office, for work purposes), cleaning, tidying, organizing – putting away what once was, and making room for what is yet to come. The result? Honestly, it was a satisfying project, and it felt as if I managed to “get more moved in”. Certainly, I finished off some incomplete moving-in tasks (like actually filing the paperwork associated with the mortgage closing, the new utility bills, and the move, itself), and surprised myself by finding quite a few things that I’d managed to lug along to this new place that I truly don’t need (or value) now. I made a pile of those odds and ends, and what is still serviceable has been dropped off at a local donation center, to benefit someone else for awhile.

Today, I made the day about doing the same sort of work in my library (the smallest of the bedrooms, well-suited to being a quiet reading nook, cozy with book-filled bookshelves, and a comfy couch – and handily available as a spare bedroom, when needed). It sounds rather grand to have a library…but I’ve certainly got enough books that they need a room of their own, if I’m not making use of them in the living room décor. lol By the time I was done, there was another trip to be made to take things to a donation center, with an entire shopping bag filled with cookbooks it turns out I don’t use (not even one recipe, which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a cookbook). There’s no sadness there; I read them. I enjoyed them. They don’t meet the need, and in their departure there is now room for some other cookbook that may be “just the thing” for how I cook now. Dusting. Vacuuming. Sorting books that seemed out of place into the places it seemed they belonged. Clearing the closet of random weird clutter that had been shoved into that mostly hidden location “until I can get to it” – back when we moved in. I laughed about that more than once while I worked.

…It was my Traveling Partner’s idea to tidy “my” spaces between jobs, and not out of any need to nag me about the housekeeping; he knows me. I’d asked “what will I get most benefit from in order to get real down time between these jobs?” He suggested – as I had been considering, myself – that I take a trip to the coast and spend the weekend there, solo (I head out tomorrow morning, early). Then, he suggested-more-than-asked that I clean up my studio and library over the long weekend, too. I agreed, and it seemed a good use of my time, but I didn’t really grasp how deeply satisfying and… “wholesome”(?) it would feel. (Sure, “wholesome works – and it has felt both satisfying and rather restful and delightful.) My partner understood more than I did, when he made his suggestion about the tidying, how much I really would get out of it, as a project between jobs. 🙂

Today, I’m grateful to have a partner who knows me so well. I’m feeling contented and satisfied, and happy to be alive. I feel secure and comfortable in this home we’ve made together. I feel loved, and supported. It’s nice.

Tomorrow I’ll head to the coast, check into a room, and walk the beach for hours taking pictures of nothing-in-particular, and listening to the wind and the waves, and asking myself hard questions, and listening to my own thoughts for awhile. I’ll meditate. I’ll write. I’ll think. I’ll read. I’ll be, quiet and still, alone with the woman in the mirror. (I’m okay with that; we’re very close. 😉 )

…I’ll miss my Traveling Partner while I am away, and that’s a good thing; we need to miss each other now and then, to really appreciate how fortunate we are to love as we do, and to re-explore our joy together with new eyes. It’s been a long pandemic year…

…It’s time to begin again.

I got home so brain-tired yesterday that the rainy day commute did not have the power to stress me out; I had no fucks left to give, in the gentlest nicest way. I just could not do anything beside safely gently drive home, park the car, and then… well, just basically nothing at all. lol

The rain continued to fall off and on all evening. I sat quietly enjoying the sound of it. Meditation. Yoga. A mug of hot tasty broth. A small glass of port, sipped slowly while I chatted for a few minutes with my Traveling Partner. Quiet. Merry. It was a lovely evening.

I slept restlessly, waking every two hours or so, checking the clock, returning to sleep. I woke ahead of the alarm, but close enough; I got up early. Yoga. Strength training. A shower. A very tasty almond milk latte that shows I have been practicing; best so far. A gentle morning, in spite of my arthritis pain.

I am eager for the long weekend ahead. No occasion. Well, me. That’s my occasion. It’s the autumnal equinox, and I am taking a long weekend to meditate, and to paint. It’s only blip on the radar this morning, of little consequence, although I have a to do list waiting for me each evening that is intended to see all the housekeeping completed before the work week ends. (How’s that going, so far, then? LOL) I’m contentedly resigned to the high likelihood that I’ll actually spend Thursday afternoon on all of that, simply because the beginnings of this week are so crammed with work-day activities that I am utterly exhausted when I get home in the evenings. It is what it is. I don’t give myself any shit about being human very often anymore.

I am mildly irked about having to go in to the office on Thursday, which jammed up  my original plan to camp on the coast and meditate on the shore over the long weekend, but the goings on in the office are not just a big deal; this particular bit is about/for the work I specifically do, so… yeah. It’d be hard to delegate that. I don’t even want to. Aaaaaand… inspiration struck me, which matters a great deal, and I need to take the new studio space for a test drive. 😀 So. Change of plans. A painting stay-cation, and I am eager to get on with it. There’s still the rest of this week, as short as it is, to get through… so.

I finish my coffee, still staring at that to do list. I find myself noticing that several listed tasks are sufficiently “quiet” that I can knock some of this out before work…

…A good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

Have you seen my way of doing things? I’m asking, because I may have lost it…

I got home last night, after a long day at work, still feeling quite merry and content, in spite of a handful of ill-mannered commuters (yes manners are still a thing). Perhaps they’ve also lost their way? My traveling partner had evening plans, though they didn’t appear on his calendar (his plans often don’t) and I expected a quiet evening at home. My expectations were unrealistic and quickly reset. First, the pharmacy rang me, just as I got home; my Rx was filled and please pick it up… Well, that’s going kill 90 minutes of my 4 hour evening to do it by bus, probably about the same to walk. I sigh, and step over the threshold, into my sanctuary of … Oh hey, damn. Dishes in the sink. An empty pop bottle on a side table. Recycling really needs to go out. Another sigh. I get to work on the dishes while I figure out how to handle the trip to the pharmacy, settling on asking a friend for a favor – maybe he’ll give me a ride there & back?

One thing I love about living alone, generally, is that there are certain things that make me feel very much at ease, and comfortable, and cared-for, that I reliably do for myself. I like to wake to no dishes in the sink and a clean kitchen. I like to come home to that, too. I prefer that no beverage containers or used dishes be left laying about, and usually have the dishwasher ready-to-go for dirty dishes to make that easy. I enjoy a measure of order – it’s one way of fighting off the chaos within. I take the trash out most days, because I don’t like the smell of it, ever, at all – so out it goes, on the regular, no nagging or reminders required. I like to get a lot of those sorts of tidying up details kept up – it matters to me. The order in my environment reflects my own sense of being – and that works with disorder, too. If I come home to disorder, expecting order – the order I typically quite specifically prepare for myself – it is jarring. Unpleasantly so. Other people, other needs – other habits.

My neighbor was available and happy to help. By the time he was ready, most of the housekeeping was done. I still hadn’t had dinner. My blood sugar was low and I was starting to feel irritable. There is no time in such a short evening for fucking about with extra shit. I feel frustrated by that. I’d grown used to being at leisure, and able to just take care of me in the fashion that feels most natural to me.

I’m still feeling frustrated and irritable when I return home from the pharmacy, but coping with it – no tears or tantrums. I swallow some orange juice and have a hard-boiled egg while I finish off things like taking out the trash and recycling, and having a shower, then making a salad for dinner, and… the evening is over. Yeah. I gotta figure this weekday evening thing out. I need a more elegant flow. A more routine routine. A more comfortable fit. I feel on the edge of tears, for really no “reason”, and more than a little confused by the flood of unexpected emotion. A deep breath. Another. I don’t fight off my emotions, anymore; I listen. Emotions are not about “reason”.

Taking a moment to be kind to myself, I remind myself that I just started a new job, just as a planned house guest arrived with all the chaos of visiting travelers, and at that same time I also got sick – greatly limiting my ability to keep things up for myself, certainly not up to being a live-in maid for guests. With a house guest and my traveling partner coming and going without any particular planning, and very different habits at home than I have, myself – things got a bit untidy. Oh, not terribly so, and anyone with kids at home would laugh off my frustration, almost certainly. Day-to-day, these days, I live in a fairly ordered environment in many respects, more so perhaps than many people would really be comfortable with. It suits (and soothes) me. I pause to recognize that it is, nonetheless, quite a luxury, and that building it is a commitment to myself. I breath. I consider my needs. I consider my aesthetic. I consider my… time. Yep. I’m a planner – by trade, and by tendency. I open my calendar, and feel myself relax.

It wasn’t that long ago, I used to let my own quirks frustrate me, instead of using them to my advantage. My moods ran my life, called my shots, and ruined my relationships. I blamed emotion generally, and cursed its very existence, seeking any method to shut that shit down – permanently. I grew up hearing women called crazy, generally in the context of expressing emotions, often very strong emotion. Made sense to me – emotional tantrums seem “crazy”, particularly when they spill over seemingly inappropriately onto some innocent bystander’s experience. Only… it’s garbage. Emotional intelligence, unfortunately, is not yet taught commonly in our schools – or in our homes.

"Emotion and Reason" 18" x 24" acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details

Our emotions are not criminal. Our emotions are not the bad guys. Our emotions are not beyond our control – and controlling them is not necessarily in our best interests. We’re not creatures of pure reason who happen to be inflicted with emotion as some sort of disorder. 🙂 We are also not creatures of pure emotion, struggling to bring order to the chaos through the magical power of reason. We are creatures of emotion and reason. Our emotions shout at us to be heard, and it’s hard to fight to make good decisions through that din, without at least some emotional intelligence.

As a female human being, I have often been told – verbally or non-verbally, explicitly or implicitly – that I am “too emotional” or that my emotions in some moment are the problem. Often whatever circumstance, information, or behavior that has caused some shit storm of emotion is over-looked, or excused, because hey – emotions can be blamed for … everything!! Only… no. I’m not having it anymore. My emotions are not a criminal act. Treating them as though they are is very misleading self-deception. To be fair, I’m also not yielding the “driver’s seat” in life to pure emotion – that just seems silly. Emotions aren’t a crime, or a handicap, but they are also not the best tool for certain sorts of decision-making. What works best for me are emotion and reason, balanced, working together, awake, aware, and present – this is what I’m practicing, myself, and this is who I am. Well… mostly. Generally. As a goal, and with some practice. A lot of practice. 😀 Yep. There are verbs involved. My results vary. 😉

I sip my coffee feeling relaxed. My after-work efforts last night made a difference in my morning, even though I was frustrated by how little time there is in an evening, these days. Last night my frustration didn’t take over, and didn’t wreck my evening. I woke after a restful night. Enjoyed unmeasured quiet minutes of meditation, some yoga, a lovely hot shower, and now this excellent cup of coffee. I feel content. Relaxed. Worthy. This morning, in the context of very different emotions, my experience is pleasant and comfortable. My emotions told me something about what matters most to me, and because I listened and took action to address the things that do matter to me (quite directly, by doing some basic housekeeping, and also making a point to enjoy some non-housekeeping minutes before calling it a night), I feel heard. No tantrum. No drama. My calendar now has the weekend planned, and Saturday set aside for “serious housework”; the fall cleaning I’d done just before returning to work was completely undone by having guests, parties, coming and going, and being sick. I know I will get great satisfaction from restoring order. 🙂

Another sigh. Taking care of me just isn’t ever about anyone else. The standards that matter are my own. The needs that must be met are also mine. The time taken to care for myself is always well-spent. Today is a good day to begin again, and to invest in taking care of me; when I do, I am more able to treat the world well, and to be love. 🙂 That’s enough… It just takes practice.