From Gratitude to Riches

Hello,

I’ve come home from another day at work feeling like time is moving both all too fast and not at all. The beginnings of a box of Rice-a-Roni sizzle softly on the stove, requiring me to leave the warmth of the kotatsu and stir it before it browns too much. It smells lovely and I half imagine myself to be cooking up something from scratch in a lonely forest cottage. My little mushroom mug, previously my grandma’s, fits the narrative. I’ve been sorting through my stash of tea and trying to drink it more but this time, it’s a matcha and cardemom latte. The pan that dinner is cooking in, is also a hand-me-down and I’ve ended up covering it with a baking sheet since it has no lid; how aesthetic.

There is much I want to dream into my fantastical (quite likely impossible) future but the current moment holds beauty. It’s something that I’m working on remembering. Sure, escaping into a daydream is fun, but it leaves me feeling somewhat trapped when I come back. So, I’ve settled myself in, to process the unpleasant reality that is my now and resolved to romanticize it.

It’s been bad winter weather the past two days. Snow and ice cover the roads and let’s just say the temperatures aren’t very positive. I was carefully parking yesterday when my vehicle decided to slide into the dms of the one next to it….and leave a nice scratch. That is a claim I now have to handle on top of the other matters pressing at my tired grey matter. Bills, budgeting, scheduling, pursuing the next steps for my health, and simply maintaining my space and self seem to be more than I can manage but, one task at a time. Some progress is better than no progress.

Seeking out the parts of my imperfect life that are daydream-worthy and keeping them in the setting of the present, helps me practice gratitude. I have so so much to be thankful for. Might be dealing with physical pain, burnout, and exhaustion but I have a warm home, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and a job to provide money for which to pay my medical bills. I may have yet another insurance thing to process, but the people involved have all been kind, there was minimal damage, and no one was hurt. There is probably no secluded cottage in my future, but I have my own cozy space with a kitchen to cook in. Thinking of all the things I do have, how ungrateful my mindset is most days.

It’s been said, “the present is a gift.” Trusting that right now, is good timing for what currently is, is a process. Even struggling through difficulties, I am going to practice noticing that I’m rich; rich with opportunity, rich with relationships. I am rich with a multitude of what I have in my life, and when I frame things that way, it doesn’t take much to romanticize it.

Whatever struggles or hard times, difficulties or frustrations, pain or loss of hope you may have, can you find something you are rich in? Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to use that word but what is something you are grateful for? What is something that you could pluck out of your present and place into a daydream?

Be well, friends and strangers. Thank you for joining me again.

Restless

Hello Strangers and Friends,

Sitting in my bed, still un-made from washing my sheets and mattress pad, the sunlight is glowing through the sheer window shade, reflecting off of the foot or more of sparkling snow we got last night. I’ve been sick; in concentration, the past two days. I’ve been unwell a lot longer than that.

It’s been drilled into me, whether by society, work, people I know, or my own perfectionism, that rest is not only something you need to earn, but the sleep you get at night should suffice. Rest in itself is not worthwhile. I’m no professor or renowned researcher on the topic. All I have are my own observations and experiences. Still, I’ve been finding the above sentiment altogether wrong.

I don’t “feel like death” today and my brain is jumping at me, telling me I need to do EVERYTHING productive, right now. My body attempts to plea it’s case. I am still sick, recovering. Ragged cough still drills it’s way out of my chest, nose still drips, body still aches. Gently, I stand up for it against my mind. “Just because I can get out of bed now, doesn’t mean that I no longer need to rest.” The long list of things I need to do right now, are they really more important than listening to the needs for my body’s health?

Lately, I’ve realized that I exist in almost a constant state of guilt. I’m not accomplishing enough, never doing enough. Instead of being happy with the things I do accomplish, there’s always the next thing looming. Cool, I dealt with the trash, gathered dirty dishes, followed up on X, Y, and Z, but those accomplishments dissolve into the black hole of tasks unfinished, or even worse, un-started.

Guilt translates to stress and stress is not good for your health. So what am I supposed to do? When I rest, the tasks pile up around me. When I don’t, I lose the ability to do them. This isn’t an issue of motivation, an upheaval of laziness. It feels like I have been tired since the dawn of time, to put it dramatically, and all I want to do is accomplish everything.

I guess there isn’t much resolution to this spot of brain dump but I thank you for joining me once again in my thoughts. What a journey we are on. Be kind to yourselves.

Priorities

Often goals, priorities and focus are relegated to a New Years resolution, a spring cleaning. The truth is that we make time for what matters and what matters makes more time for us. When I start my day focusing on truth and putting life into a directed perspective, I find that the time is freer.

Everyone has 24hrs a day, yet so many of us, myself often included, say we have no time. Our days are full of choices, large and small, that impact that flow. What is import to you? What will you give time to grow?

I have been trying to focus on my health this past half-year or so. Not so much because of the pandemic, but because I’ve spent so long dismissing my own needs and telling myself that either it was just my overthinking or that other things mattered more. Considering your health and well-being affect every moment of your existence, it was high time I made it a priority.

I can’t lie, it’s really hard. Not only do I have to firmly set boundaries and try to communicate with others, I also am required to advocate to and for myself. After years of the only response to “how are you” being “I’m good”, cultivating honesty even within myself is a challenge.

It’s still on my to-do list to format a routine and put into place repetitive ways to move towards goals, but my focus is at least changing.

Thank you, friends and strangers, for joining me in my thoughts. It is refreshing to write again.

Determined to feel alive

If I am going to keep hanging in the balance of waiting for my perfect future and being open to growth and change, I might as well be in a good relationship with myself.

Essentially, I have a four year time frame to make some big changes. Four years left in current wonderful apartment, four years to save, to decide, to make moves. I want to buy a house. Where that house will be is not concrete. Do I want to stay in my home state, without family? Is there enough here to keep me, or will I end up settling somewhere else, with or without the support system of my parents close by. I’m fortunate to have a close relationship with them. There is no way of knowing if I will meet someone and form a romantic relationship before then either, and that would be another factor, of course.

I was taken on a wonderful date today. It felt good to dress up, grab a small, fall-special coffee after being cooked a delicious breakfast of buckwheat pancakes from scratch with eggs and bacon and then head to my favorite dirt trail.
The autumn colors were stunning and I didn’t rush my pace, taking in the uninterrupted beauty around me. There was some kind of company event using the park, with signs on the trail so the path less taken was…taken. It led the way, wandering through a field of waving grass and then skirted a group of birches. We’ve had a few storms this past month or so and fallen trees or sawed off roots were not a surprise to see. A large stump, the partially charred trunk lying close by, arrested my attention without a second glance. I almost put an end to the child-like glee that sprung up inside me, but why should I have? There was no one there to worry about boring or embarrassing. Doing my best not to disturb too much on my way through the dry, taller grasses, I arrived at my destination properly pleased with myself. The simple happiness that accompanied clambering up on that big stump was so soothing. It was large enough for me to lay on and stare up into the perfectly blue sky. No anxious thoughts came to plague me. I was able to just be. “This would be a perfect place for a date.” I thought, but the friends I had reached out to were already busy so I was alone. It was about then, that I realized I could be my own sort of significant other until the person meant for me appears. I want someone who values me and makes me feel safe but I don’t do that for myself much of the time. With that in mind, could I be intentional about being in a committed relationship with myself? It sounds strange, but the idea of value and self-love is at the bottom of it.

After appreciating the situation for a bit and finishing the walking circuit, I finally visited my favorite tea shop. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get a personal pot of fragrant tea, a slice of tiramisu, and settle myself in one of the Japanese-style seating areas with tatami mats and low tables. Sure, it still crossed my mind that it would be nice to share this with someone, but it’s also a near-perfect place to write. A violin version of Merry-Go-Round of Life floats quietly through the space, mingling with quiet discussion and clinking of tea dishes. The small chalkboard sign at the counter states “no wi-fi on weekends” and electrical outlets by my seat are covered up. All the better. There are few places to create this atmosphere. Precious tea dribbles onto my journal page as I burn my mouth on the complimentary refill. I’m glad it is thick paper.
Usual melancholy is waiting under the surface of this rest. Hauntingly nostalgic piano music makes its ripples, prodding at my thoughts of both future and past again. I want more days like this, where I am determined to feel alive.

I’m going to stop apologizing for the delays or absences in my posting and instead focus on what I do bring to this place. Life is full of confusing ups and downs. All I can do is my best.

Thank you for being here strangers and friends.

Eventually

Hello dearest friends and strangers,

I have once again spent more than my usual time away from you this week. It’s been difficult to have motivation or inspiration.
Yesterday, I accomplished a massive amount of cleaning and was expecting to feel happy and pleased with myself but instead, sunk into a gloom that I could not understand.

Maybe it was due to finally having “free” time, not a jam-packed weekend schedule. Maybe it was the quiet that I crave during the week, finally sinking in. Whatever reason, there was no escaping my thoughts. Losing myself in social media scrolling didn’t distract me, instead it pulled struggle to the front, forcing me to process what I didn’t even completely realize I had been avoiding.

There is a trend where people show all the hard work and pain that they’ve been going through and then, as the music swells, say or show why it’s all worth it; what they are moving toward.
I’ve lost that. I know I have purpose. I know I have value. I just don’t have an end goal to grasp. My dreams are lackluster. There is no obvious path that I am following. The five year plan question that management ask in interviews has always been difficult for me but I honestly don’t have an answer right now.

As I look back at all that I have gained, everything checked off my ever-growing to-do list, I wonder why comfort doesn’t come with all the blessings. Will anything ever be enough? Will I ever be enough, not for others, but for myself?

Take a deep breath. I’m not looking for you to answer. Just know that, if you’re troubled by your own apathy and numbness to your life, your future, you’re not alone. Keep going. We’ll get there eventually.

Beautiful and Tumultuous

The wind is making the trees dance in the setting sun. Spinning seeds find their way to me from an empty sky It is not quiet, yet it is peaceful. When this type of breeze makes my hair caress my arms and strands cross my face, I feel as if I must be important, strong. There is no booming, no cracking or roaring. Instead the power is quiet, soft and still beautiful.

I wonder if the wind has ever known where it’s going. As far as I can tell, it just goes. I want to be like the wind; beautiful in my collected chaos, freely fulfilling my purpose, not worried about where I’m headed.

Toast

The rain patters quietly outside of her open window, punctuated by a car alarm honking forlornly in the distance. Placing her hands on either side of her mug, the warmth seeps into her fingers and she breathes in, herbal cadence blending with fresh rain smell. It had been a long day, discouraging but she couldn’t let up just yet. She wrinkled her nose slightly, noting that the trash was not a list item that she could put off any longer. A blank spot on the opposing wall gained her steady gaze as she pondered the complex weight on her mind. How is it that no matter how much was ever accomplished in either her personal or professional life, it felt like no progress was made?

There was no answer of course. Not this time at least, so she rose from her spot on the floor to stare into the refrigerator. No food looked appealing, either requiring effort and time or unsettling her fickle appetite. She sighed. When did eating become just another item on her list of things to do? The neighbor’s bass thrummed through the wall and she finally grabbed a loaf of bread, throwing a couple slices in the toaster. She jumped when they popped up, what felt only a few seconds later. Butter. Absentmindedly, the previously utilized fork on the counter was used to spread the slices before she once again sank to the floor.

She couldn’t have turned into a robot entirely. Robots don’t care about food. The real question was, what else did she actually, truly, care about? Once again, no answers presented themselves so she continued to study the blank space on the wall and munch on the half-done toast.

Ordinary Peace

Getting last minute approval to leave your windowless office job early on a Friday feels oh so lovely, like you’re getting away with something as you step into the sun, removing your facemask.
I’m sitting on the slab of cement cherished as my patio. Partially shaded, but with the warmth soaking into my legs from the rock, covered by my skirt. A loud crunch/pop sound breaks the songs of crickets as I open a cold can of V8 juice. I’m trying to have more vegetables in my diet and I already treated myself to a creamy nitro cold brew, laced with salted caramel this morning. Normally I don’t spring for nitro but it truly had a different flavor, richer and darker than the regular.

It’s the perfect day as far as weather goes. A cool clear, morning growing from the low seventies to the low eighties with a breeze shushing through the leaves of the trees. Come to think of it, it’s probably frogs, not crickets I’ve been hearing, since it’s not yet evening. Either way, I’m not worried. Normally I would be, thinking about my never ending list of things to do and accomplish but I’m happy, at peace just existing for a change.

Whatever kind of week you’re coming out of, I hope that you’re able to experience peace in the ordinary beauty of life.

Thank you for reading, strangers and friends.

The Perfect Life

Hello friends and strangers,
I must apologize for my extended absence. Life has been complicated lately. I know, when is it not. Battling burnout at my job, taking a wonderful trip from which I had to return, exhaustion and getting sick, focusing on my immediate space instead of the cerebral, and quite frankly, lack of wonder and inspiration in my everyday life; these are the things I blame for my lack of posting.

My eating and sleeping have been most impacted. Vivid dreams leave me tired and confused when I wake up. Interest in food or the energy to make it are in short supply.

This morning though, staying home to stream church instead of exposing people to whatever my body is fighting, I found that pocket of contentment. Nothing is perfect. I dropped my beautiful cheese toast face down on the rabbit-fur-covered rug. My stomach is still upset, but I was able to enjoy sitting on the ground by the windows, soaking up the sun indoors, since the smoke from Canada has impacted air quality. The black berries and crisp pickle slices, that escaped the fall, were refreshing and Clove convinced me to hand over some of the fur-covered toast, allowing me to fit in a few smoothings of her velvety soft fluff. No, things are far from perfect but, life can still be good.

Toasted sourdough, dill havarti, prosciutto, with blackberries, dill pickle slices and coffee.

Reflection of a Smile

I was taught to smile at everyone. You never know what kind of day they are having, what they are going through, or the impact a simple smile could have.

I still smile at almost everyone. If I can make even a small difference that way, it’s worth it.

Looking in the mirror today, tired, I smiled at myself. Then realized, I don’t remember the last time I genuinely smiled at me; not a pose for a picture, not customer service, not a reaction to someone or something else but instead extending that kindness inward.

Self love, worth, and identity are lifelong struggles for a lot of people on varying levels, whether it’s body issues, awkwardness, trauma or circumstances. I don’t have everyday solid advice, since humans are very complex with varying situations.

But, can you do me a favor, dear friends and strangers? Can you smile at yourself like you would a stranger, friend, or family member? Please be kind to yourselves.

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.

William Shakespeare