Archives for posts with tag: walk it off

It was a lovely weekend. That’s definitely how I remember it… and I think that’s a pretty accurate summary. My Traveling Partner and I shared many connected, intimate moments, some productive moments, appreciative moments, encouraging moments… definitely a lovely weekend. We met neighbors from a couple houses down – a byproduct of community, in a community that “does community” pretty well, and where neighbors see each other, and interact. My partner, working on projects in the garage, door open to the breeze, attracted the attention and genial neighborly conversation of passing folk heading to or from the mailboxes on the corner. Conversations were had. Connections made. 🙂 Social distancing rules were observed without awkwardness. (Life in the time of pandemic has rules of its own.)

The weekend was so… ordinary. We cooked, cared for our home, spent time hanging out together, ran a couple errands, started and completed projects. I don’t need “more”; it was rich and fulfilling. It was enough. I took care and time on my self-care, making a point to meditate, to get enough exercise, to eat healthy meals, all of it matters. The day-to-day is more pleasant when I care for myself skillfully.

Every moment a potential new beginning – that’s a promising thought.

I start the week, and the day, with good practices. I shower, soak (meditate while soaking), and go for a comfortable pleasant walk of a bit more than a mile. I watch the sun begin to peak through the trees, from a seat on the deck, while sharing coffee with my Traveling Partner.

A chilly late summer morning, cold toes, warm fire, hot coffee. 🙂

No, there is no “perfect”, and I’m not always certain I’m “making progress” or “achieving success”, but there is this lovely “now”, and endless new beginnings. Right now, that’s enough.

Check this out… it’s already time to begin again. 😉

Yesterday was hard. Very. The day before that was easy. A exceptional day. I didn’t write on either day. I don’t recall the reasons, now, but by the end of yesterday I was feeling very much like it was a massive self-care fail that I hadn’t been writing. The whole day was drenched in similar fail-sauce. Communication breakdowns. Loss of emotional balance. Taking shit personally. Mild frustration in one moment or another becoming, over the day, a sort of chronic feeling of being “over-extended”, with too much to do, too little time, and everyone wanting “a piece of me”, leaving nothing at all left of me for me. It was entirely subjective. It was shitty, as experiences go, and the result was an abyss of internal chaos that spilled out into real interactions with others – most especially my Traveling Partner.

Sometimes apologies don’t cut it. (A very unhelpful observation.)

Since the move, we’ve done a lot to improve how we’re set up in the house, how well things work, and continue to make repairs and small quality of life improvements. Since the AC leak and associated water damage have kicked me out of my studio temporarily, I feel even more displaced than I did from moving – while I’m trying to get settled in, and build new healthy routines that support my mental health and emotional wellness in a new place. Yesterday was clear evidence that I’m struggling with the “getting settled in” process. I’m finding very little traction as I work toward building new healthy routines for living my life; every fucking thing is constantly changing, even moment to moment. Mostly good changes. Still changes. I can’t seem to “get used to” anything. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the instability in my environment in a very visceral way.

“This too shall pass.” Still true. Doesn’t make this shit “easy”. (No one said it would be.)

The days are mostly good days. This life is a good life. I focus on the observation that I feel generally okay, and things are generally good… This experience is not about how things are, though, it is a very personal experience of how I feel, which may not even be tied to reality in any direct way. (Doesn’t serve to make the experience of those feelings any easier.)

The solitude I woke to this morning lasts very few minutes. My Traveling Partner wakes early. I make him coffee and return to my writing. A minute or two later he asks “What are you doing?” I reply “I’m writing.” His surly, mildly sarcastic reply, “wonderful”, is followed by “I’ll be somewhere else”. As he leaves the room, I feel my anxiety level rise in the background. Is my typing extra loud? Am I hitting the keys super hard, or very fast? Does my typing convey my emotions (or suggest an emotional experience I may or may not be having but is uncomfortable to listen to)? Yesterday was hard on both of us. I don’t resent his irritation, or take it personally. He’s having his own experience, too.

Damn I want my studio back. I can’t paint. My gaming computer is in there, too. I generally write in there; it’s also my “office”. My studio is a haven where I can experience and explore strong emotion without interfering with other people (and similarly they would not be interacting with me). I feel, subjectively, like I “can’t get a minute to myself” or “can’t hear myself think” or “can’t get any cognitive down time”. I’m not sure those things are objectively true at all. I suspect they are not. I do know the chaos is incredibly uncomfortable, and I’m not dealing with it well (or wasn’t, yesterday). In spite of decently restful sleep, I don’t feel “rested”.

…The pandemic isn’t helping. My Traveling Partner and I, aside from a small number of errands that get run by necessity, are together 24/7 and take “the lockdown” very seriously. I do enjoy his company. I also very much enjoy solitude. I feel a need for both. Without my studio to retreat to, I struggle to set healthy boundaries, and yesterday’s meltdown makes it clear this is not a sustainable set of conditions. Looking back on yesterday, I can see how the day started as a poor mix of me working from home, and his enjoyment of my presence prompting him to seek out more interaction with me, in spite of my (clearly inadequate) boundary setting and expectation setting about my work day. It could have been a lovely day, in spite of any of that, but at some point I lost my grip, and my perspective. “Everything” felt like “too much” at some point, and things spiraled out of control for me from there.

I can tell from my partner’s tone this morning that he is still feeling hurt by yesterday’s chaos and I feel that sad lingering concern that “I’ll never get any better than this”. Probably a common feeling for trauma survivors still struggling with their chaos and damage over time. I remind myself that context, perspective, and self-talk matter. I remind myself that my partner and I are indeed “separate people”, and to avoid fusing with his emotional experience, and seek instead to tend to my own, and care for myself more skillfully. Sitting down to write is part of that. Even in the dining room. Even when I don’t feel encouraged. Even when time is short.

…I remind myself how loved I am, and how much love I feel for this other human being who is now more or less forced to deal with me without a break…

I breathe, exhale, and relax. I let go of the persisting anxiety about how my partner is/may be feeling, what he is thinking, and remind myself that we are each having our own experience – that’s not only unavoidable, it’s okay. Nothing to fix. I focus on the day ahead. How do I get back on my path, make wise choices, care for myself well, and be the person I most want to be? What practices will matter most, today? I look at the time… and my half empty cup of coffee. I have time to take a walk before work. I check my work calendar. I’ll have a good opportunity to soak in the hot tub a bit later. Another errand to run. I look for a good time and put that on my calendar, too. What about meditation? Where will that fit in…? And household chores…? The work day? I start feeling the anxiety rise up, again. I breathe, exhale, relax… definitely need that walk.

…It’s time to begin again.

I noticed the peculiar balmy quality to the air this morning, on the way to work. It persisted through the day. Warmer weather than is typical for January. The air is soft and very still, and the scent of it hints at summer storms. Decidedly peculiar weather.

I enjoyed the commute home more than I generally do. It felt easy. Effortless. Unfettered. The sky looked stormy, without looking anything like winter, somehow. The temperature remained quite mild, even into the evening. I went for take-out, for dinner. I went to the store a bit later. I had the energy to do this-n-that – maybe borrowed from the stormy sky. Still no rain falling, just the scent of the hint of a promise of rain… later. I smiled as I drove home. I smiled as I drove through town, first on one errand, then on the next. I pulled into the driveway smiling.

The weekend is here. I’m still smiling.

The amount of pain I am in is every bit as uncomfortable as the worst winter I’ve ever had with my arthritis. Something like 30 years of pain-filled winters; every winter feels like the worst one, ever. I wonder for a moment if, in fact, they’re all quite similar, and I simply lack the capacity to recall it with clarity. Sitting here in pain tonight, I kind of appreciate that possibility. It is what it is, though, and bitching about it as endlessly as I experience it doesn’t help with the pain, and doesn’t improve the experience, so… I let it go. Over and over again, I notice the pain, with a breath, with a movement, with the completion of one task or another, or just a change of position. I notice it. I let it go. When it is too much to bear, at all, I fall back on a pain reliever. I try to get by without them. I don’t find them something worth counting on. I’m frustrated with the song and dance involved with every refill, every new doctor, every change of health coverage; most of the time, I’d rather be in pain that deal with any of that. Sometimes, it’s too much to argue with, and I reach for relief.

Here’s the thing, though; I’m enjoying my life, generally, in spite of the pain. That seems an important detail. I hold on to that for a few moments. I make the effort to focus on that, more than the pain.

My sleep has gone to crap, again. No idea why. I remind myself it’s a thing I’m aware I deal with, and have since… yeah, I don’t have a memory of a time in my life without sleep disturbances of one sort or another. I shrug without thinking, and feel the pain in my spine flare up, in this new place I don’t remember hurting before quite recently. Annoying. I take a deep breath and coax my shoulders into relaxing once more. Tonight? Yep. I took a pain reliever. Are you kidding me? Pain sucks, and also, I’d like to hurt at least enough less to sleep a few hours, if not deeply, at least straight through without waking. Goals. lol

All of this is so… human.

I listen to the last of the rush hour traffic whooshing by, on the street. I think about the trail I plan to walk, tomorrow, and wonder which turns to take, and where I’ll turn around and head back for home. There’s a longer loop trail near by, and extension of another familiar walk. Maybe I’ll take that walk, and push past my recent distance, for a grander goal? I feel twinges of pain mocking my intentions…

I shrug all that off, quite deliberately, and imaging an obscene gesture at my unseen enemy. “You don’t tell me!” I think… I’ll just begin again. 😉

Early morning quiet, interrupted now and then by the sound of a passing car – a pleasant enough start to the day. I’m groggy. My sleep has been poor for a couple days now. Short nights. Wakeful. Restless dreams. It isn’t what it once was, to have such nights; they lack the stress I would have also experienced years ago. I let go of that, and so, a few nights of poor sleep are merely that; just a few nights of poor sleep. The weekend is almost here, and perhaps a night that isn’t followed by an alarm going off will be just the thing I need. 🙂

I found myself missing my Traveling Partner quite a lot yesterday, and also feeling a hint of playful-but-serious envy for his travels, themselves. I didn’t need any of that to be a thing, and I’m not feeling haunted by regret that I did not make it out to see my Mom in person, before her death. I am, however, feeling something… a certain restlessness, a yearning, a need to “get away” from “everything” for awhile. I need to be out among the trees. 🙂 I haven’t done much camping in the past year, and it’s something I really get a lot out of. Healthy time away. Time to reflect, without distractions. Cell phone becoming, instead, a camera. Just thinking it through got me excited about doing it.

One possible future… and one beautiful now.

I sat down in the evening, after work, and made a plan. Found some likely dates. Booked a favorite camping space in a favorite state park a few weeks from now. Booked a camping space out on the coast even a bit further out, on the calendar, as well as on the road. One trip for the peace among the trees, listening to the birds, hearing the deer step by daintily before I wake, hiking forested trails, and spending time meditating, and writing. The other trip? Beach-combing, and star-gazing. Nice. I smiled all evening, and woke up smiling this morning, too. I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in the background; it feels good to take action on personal needs in a constructive way. Not only that; I managed to plan almost-last minute, and still got a good camp site near the beach in the mid-September (still summer, in Oregon). 😀

It won’t matter about the weather, anyway… it’s about the journey.

…I’ve got to remember to get more Deet (mosquitoes) and sun-screen (omg – what do I do about that now?? I guess shop for a safer sunscreen. lol) Oh, and make a list… lol

I giggle with excitement over my coffee; truth is, I’m fairly well-prepared without lifting a finger. A routine check of my gear (unpack it, look it over for wear & tear, missing essentials, that sort of thing, and repack it), and I should be more or less ready to hit the highway. I like to hike – and I like to hike trails I can’t easily get to, trails that are too remote to be crowded, but still safe for me to hike solo. I end up camping a bunch to get to such places. lol It’s not about the camping, and as a result, I tend to camp fairly efficiently, and purposefully, most of the time. I don’t like to fuss and waste time looking for this or that just to load the car. 😀 I keep my gear ready-to-go, from about mid-March to the end of October. (I still hike in colder months, and talk long walks on nearby trails, but I don’t like sleeping/waking in the cold, so I rarely camp in winter, by preference.)

…I still catch myself musing about what I need, what I’ve got, what I may need to change about how my gear is packed, and making a mental list (or several). I’m looking forward to the time away.

I catch myself thinking about things I reliably always pack and don’t use. It’s so tempting to reduce weight by not taking those things. I already travel pretty light; I can generally carry my gear – all of it – in a single trip from the car to the campsite, if not backpacking it, then coming pretty close with a backpack and my hands full. It’s helpful to keep the load at a minimum (age, fitness, pain management…). So, why the heck am I carrying stuff I don’t use?? That sounds dumb…

…First aid kit? (haven’t needed it yet, still gotta carry one – not dumb) That’s the sort of “extra weight” I tend to carry; safety gear. A spare headlamp. Solar lights. Water filtration (state parks usually have potable water on site). Bottled water (heavy, and generally left behind in the car, once I confirm there is on site drinking water). Emergency blanket. My gear looks like I expect, at any moment, to be stranded unexpectedly in the wilderness, with no clear date of likely rescue. lol Realistically, that’s a thing that could happen, and I’m solo hiking most of the time. Why not be prepared to look after myself with some measure of preparedness and skill, in the event I am injured on a trail, or get stuck, or lost? Just saying… my “extra” weight stops being extra, when circumstances become more challenging.

Life works like that, too. Being prepared for contingencies, having a “plan B” (or C, or D, or E) can make a huge difference to our personal success in life. Being ready to pivot with new circumstances can make the difference between “getting there” at all – and “getting there” comfortably. Still, it matters to “keep the load light” and not carry so much baggage that we can’t really travel with any ease – and again, it’s a metaphor; works in life, and in camping. 🙂 Just saying; it’s worth it not to carry extra baggage. It’s worth it to bring what it utterly necessary on our journey. Having (and using) the right tools is a worthwhile investment in our time, our effort – and our preparedness for circumstances.

What’s in your tool box? Will it get the job done?

What’s in your backpack? Will you be able to reach your destination, with what you can carry?

I notice the time. Finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂

 

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂