Escape into Reality

I’m sitting on my patio, iced tea creating a wet spot from the sweating on the cement next to me. Clove is tethered to my ankle, free to explore the length of her leash but close enough that I can be there before a dog or hawk. It’s a perfect 73 F only partially spoiled by hesitant grey skies and light mugginess.

Weather like this makes me sleepy and unmotivated to do anything except lay in bed and scroll TikTok or Pinterest. Actually, that is exactly what I was doing before this. I came across a TikTok of someone who was told that if they feel that way, to go for it, just outdoors at a park instead.

I have found that taking care of others is vastly easier than taking care of myself. Why that is, I’m not quite sure. I do know that the way I perceive things has a large sway on their impact. I have used my imagination to escape from real life as longa s I can remember and never once did it occur to me until this week that I could use my imagination and creativity to actually change my reality instead of escape from it.

“Bad” feelings are still meant to be felt. Greif, pain, anger, are not meant to be ignored and pushed down. Instead of beating myself up for feeling more than happiness all the time, I need to learn to process the emotions that are generally frowned upon, remind myself that they are ok to feel, just don’t wallow in them.

Maybe you came to this realization long ago or maybe you don’t relate to my same feeling of needing to escape life at times. Either way, I hope you’re finding a way to take care of yourself.

Thank you for listening strangers and friends.

(written May 23rd but forgot to actually post it)

Honestly…

Social media in general, tends to culture the belief in us that other people have their lives all together. Beautiful spreads of food, made up faces, cloudy skies displayed through a filter, they are all lovely beautiful moments in people’s lives that we get to see. The thing is, there’s always so much more to the story.

This past week and even the week before have been really rough for me. I have had very limited interest in anything at all and my work/life balance is tremulous at best. I struggle to find and cling to the beautiful in my mundane let alone accomplish basic requirements of being a functioning human.
I thought about posting a beautifully edited and put together picture of my first and closest attempt to a charcuterie or snack board, complete with some kind of witty weekend caption on Instagram today. The truth is that I was so tired and brain fried yesterday that I didn’t eat dinner, went to sleep late, stayed in bed until 1pm today, and then didn’t eat that pretty plate until about 2:30pm after a decent amount of frustration creating it. I’m not going to detail the level of tired I am but I can’t pretend that my weekend has been full of productivity and relaxation.

Writing this is not for anyone to feel bad for me. It’s my responsibility to better my own life. I’m writing this so that the beautiful aesthetic and happy things I try to bring to light on my social media don’t fool you into thinking that I’ve got it all together. Don’t compare your life to what you see of anyone else’s because so many times it’s not the full picture.

Reframing my perspective of life is a constant area for potential growth and being honest about things that aren’t pretty, inspiring, or exciting, is not comfortable for me. Also, not every happy or beautiful thing in life needs to be documented and shared to social media. It’s entirely possible to cheapen your own real moments by thinking instead about how to prove to the internet that your life is enviable. Really, I’m reminding myself. I don’t know what your experience is.

What are your thoughts on the “instagram lie” or this new version of keeping up with the Joneses? Do you find yourself trying to find things for social media to paint a pretty picture for your life instead of actually enjoying them? Would you prefer the glossy, happy version of life displayed at all times?

What do you think friends and strangers?

The chocolate hummus? Surprisingly good.

If you are trying to take care of your body but also want chocolate, I definitely suggest the easy recipe for chocolate hummus I made today. It’s over on thegutnursery.com as Brownie Batter Hummus.

May it be

Hello Strangers and Friends,

Do you ever go through periods of time when nothing interests you and you can’t force yourself to care about what previously, was all you thought about? Last week I couldn’t bring myself to do anything, care about anything, be interested in anything, despite the week before being full of motivation and inspiration.

I still don’t have the desire to put effort or focus into my usual interests but I’ve managed to force myself to accomplish the responsible things like laundry and cleaning; still working having an appetite. There are two things that have garnered my attention and interest. Unfortunately, they are not specifically productive to this blog or my creative goals that I can see.

A large amount of brain space has been occupied by the newest series on Netflix to snag my for-now obsession. It’s had the power to make me buy the books only a day after finishing season 1. I haven’t bought books in years, let alone with the fervor of expectant waiting that follows the tracking of my package. I’m both pleased with this outcome and displeased that it hasn’t happened for my other interests or the other books already on my shelves. I guess I’ll take what I can get.

The other object of my interest and excitement: planning a short trip for my birthday this summer. While I had originally been planning on international travel, this trip is just full enough of aesthetic dream content to stir my meh brain. My friend and I plan to stay in a lovely little cottage on a farm where there is plenty of opportunity to live out the associated fantasy. There is still much to be done for this trip but the knowledge that we will be able to stay at the gorgeous Airbnb and that I’ve gotten the minimum time off work approved, gives me that lift that I could really use right now.

Are you feeling oddly blah and kind of down despite Spring pushing through and things looking up as far as returning to “normal life” goes? What are some things that have caught or held your interest?

But first, coffee.

Outdoor Ambitions

A breeze keeps blowing my loose strands of hair into my face and if I tilt my head just right, I can see a threading of web reflecting light through the blades of grass. The smell of someone grilling and the sound of birdsong mix now with the quiet clack of the keyboard. I am somehow in a different life but it is my own.

I haven’t read an actual book in maybe, over a year. Someone was kind enough to send me one off of my Amazon wishlist, suggested by my mentor. It’s so beautiful outside today again, after most of the week being rain and snow. Going on a walk is suggested but the mentally tired bug bit me earlier today and was not shaken. Resting outside, reading for the first time in forever, carding my fingers through the velveteen fur of my rabbit, has melted the work day away.

It’s not just any book either. It’s not an escape (which I am constantly seeking) or a cover up. It requests that I face reality and ask myself hard questions.

we need to figure out where we are before we plot a course forward

Bob Goff – Dream Big

I am urged to open my eyes, take a clear look at everything I think about myself and why, sort through my desires and ambitions as if doing an internal spring cleaning, and truly put in the work to make my life what I long for it to be.

No more doing what merely occupies, entertains, and numbs us?

Bob Goff – Dream Big

Can you be honest with yourself? How difficult is it for you?
As the light fades into evening and the breeze becomes chilled, I will go back inside but take these questions with me.

From only three chapters into the book, I already highly suggest it. Have you heard of it? Read it? Dream Big by Bob Goff

Thank you for being human

I’ve worked a customer service role, in some form or another, for many years. The jokes about the “real you” and your “customer service you” difference are very applicable. Turning on tour guide Barbie from the other side of the phone with dead eyes is an acquired skill and easy to fall into once an option. It is an especially easy escape when you actually tend to care quite a bit about well, everything.

When describing myself as highly empathetic and highly sensitive, I rarely count them as helpful traits to myself. Yes, in an interview, they can be phrased as being an excellent problem solver, genuine and caring for the needs of the customer but the large toll that they actually take on me is hidden. It takes so much effort to let myself be the default me, to care deeply, notice small things, feel strongly. The pain and selfishness in this world weighs heavily at times.

Today, I was helping a patient on the phone. Obviously, because of HIPA, I can’t share the full story but I spoke to them multiple times and they were worried and flustered. The last time I spoke to them, they recognized my voice. “Thank you for being human.” In the midst of their worry, they thanked me for being genuine and compassionate because they could tell the difference.

Being told you have a special gift for helping people, especially when you yourself are struggling, having a rough time, is a one-of-a-kind compliment. Thank you for being human. My strong feelings, soft heart, the exhaustion that comes from them, they are part of being human. I need to remind myself of that.

So even though I can’t say any identifying information about this person, thank you for taking the time out of your worry to acknowledge something about me that I fight to not turn off or zone out from. Thank you for seeing that I am not a robot. Thank you for impacting my day.

And to you, strangers and friends, thank you for being human.

Today’s Someday

I wrote the excerpt below, about nine years ago. I did not own a piano. I did not have my own place to live.

Someday, in my made up future, I will wake up to the birds singing and the sunlight streaming through my window. Smiling, I will slip out from between my covers and stretch, fingers towards the ceiling, before walking into the kitchen. I will make myself a delicious, healthy, breakfast and eat it outside in the morning air. After putting the dishes away, getting dressed, and pulling my hair back, I will go and sit down at my deep, black, grand piano and let all of my thoughts and feelings flow out of my fingertips until they echo in the air.
Maybe I will laugh, a smile on my face. Maybe I will cry, tears escaping with each note.
And after I’m done, and there is nothing left to be said, I will close that gorgeous piano back up. I will close the doors to the room where the emotions still hover thick in the air, and I will step into the breathtaking sunshine. Eyes closed, I will listen, waiting for your response.

Reading this poem now, I can see that my dream for my future has pretty much become true. There are no doors to close my piano into it’s own room because I live in a (wonderful) studio apartment. There was no chance that I could purchase my bucket-list instrument, but my grandmother willed me hers.

This was a reminder I needed.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into some of my very old writing.

Inside of the piano

Look how far we’ve failed

There have been a few things lately that I could count as failures and I will share them, because I said that I would not only share my successes but also what I learn from my not so successful ventures. It’s nothing too weighty but it forces me to think of how far I’ve come as well.

Thing number one: Using a wax seal to make a gorgeously finished letter (and then mailing it). Turns out, I used the wrong wax and the entire thing pulled away from the paper. Also, stamps are far more expensive than I last remembered and the letter in question still needs to make it to the mailbox!
I have learned that you need to use actual sealing wax to press a good pattern into and have it stick.

It actually looked much worse than this.

Thing number two: Making a cozy, creamy, comfort food, crock-pot chicken dish entirely without following a recipe. It would have been alright if I didn’t second guess how cooked the chicken was at the end of the first 4 hours. It looks awful now, after I cooked it several more hours, and I can’t bring myself to eat it.
Lesson learned: There can be some pink in cooked chicken as long as it’s the right texture.

Both of these things happening in the same week did get me a little down. I am a perfectionist after all. Yes, I know that I’m hard on myself and have difficulty accepting any real compliment. Doling them out to others is much easier. Last night, I was watching an old episode of The Great British Baking Show, with my parents. Before leaving, I thanked them for all the support and encouragement they give me and said “You’re awesome.” My dad shot back “You’re awesome!” and I accepted it super gracefully with a “meh”. He was quick to back up his statement, telling me to look at how far I’ve come. Maybe I’m not where I want to be, but I’m much closer than I was.

Thankfully, he is right and I think it’s true for a lot more people than just me. Let me pass on his encouragement to you. You’re awesome. Look how far you’ve come.

Sunshine on the mind

Today, finally, was wonderful. Living with chronic illness, on any level, makes every small accomplishment a victory and today I felt well enough to do a full-on deep powerclean of the apartment. I’ll admit, it really needed it but being able to make so much progress, visible progress even, felt amazing.

The sun was shining beautifully earlier and people were out in force to soak it up. Anything above 30 degrees (F) here is tropical right now. You should have seen the lines for car washes! It’s supposed to snow a lot again tonight I guess. I don’t mind as long as it stays “warm” and doesn’t ice over.

This week was quite something, just weird. I tend to have trouble keeping my days straight anyway but it feels like a whole year went by. Speaking of time passing, I can’t believe it’s already March in a couple days. What an interesting time we live in.

What was hard about your week? What fills you with energy? I hope that you are able to enjoy your weekend. More to come ~

From the kitchen rug

Some days it’s just not practical to try to think of everything as wonderful and fantastical. Some days require oneself to see the day for what it is and simply make the best of it.

Today is not a bad day. There is sunlight streaming through my window and I am afforded some peace and quiet, apart from my own head trying to wind me up. My rabbit, Clove is out and doesn’t feel the need to move around the apartment much. Instead, she is enjoying sitting on the rug in the kitchen and occasionally visiting me to see if I will share the apple I have just sliced.

It’s been a long week. I can’t quite explain it but I feel drained, drowsy and just a bit broken. That’s the truth. Learning to recognize my own emotions and struggles, while also finding the beauty and positivity in my days is a constant learning experience. I post the beautiful things I look for and find, to increase my thankfulness and appreciation for what I have. I don’t want anyone to be mislead by thinking that my pictures, my highlight reel, is all there is to my life. Life is deep. There is always more to the story than you can see.

Enjoy this beautiful day strangers and friends. There is only one of it.

Romanticizing Reality

I’ve been feeling pretty crap the past few days. Scratch that, the past few weeks. I started off the new year like any other, with goals, telling myself I would stick to my perfectly laid out plan. You would think that by now I would learn that perfect doesn’t exist in our messy lives. Stuff happens and plans get pushed to the side for dealing with something more pressing.

Even though I took last week to rest my body and mind after work, it didn’t magically make my adult responsibilities disappear and they’re still here, hanging out in my apartment with me. My coworker and I both share that acute stress that you get from someone standing in a waiting room where everyone is sitting and that is what my adulting to-do list feels like.

Finding a way to balance enjoying my life and not being drowned in the things that still need to be handled is a constant battle so I’ve been trying to find ways to improve the parts that I can’t get rid of entirely. Today I picked up some Pho on my way home, cozied up at my kotatsu (japanese heated table) and am going to do my best to pretend that I’m the hardworking heroin in a Ghibli movie. Good food to nourish my body (hopefully placate it) and the right perspective to try to make sorting my finances and catching up on cleaning fun.

We’ll see how it goes but I’m hopeful. Writing this, writing again in general is so good for me. What are some things that help improve your perspective and motivation?