Should

Hi
There’s been a heck of a lot to process lately. Almost nothing seems untouched. It’s like trying to stay in one place but hanging from a pendulum. I can’t begin to cover everything whirling around in my life lately, so I’ll try for as much “now” as I can.

Yesterday, I woke up happy despite my tiredness; fed Clove, took my meds, and returned to the cozy comfort of my bed. After some time had passed, and I had both gone to and returned from sleep, there was no pleasant escape feeling. Yes, no pressure to check items off of the never ending to-do list, but with the absence of pressure, I felt suspended, as if in a vacuum, without solid form, empty, blank.

This morning, I woke up and tarried in bed some sleepy moments, before getting ready and heading out the door. Coffee put a bit more pep in my step, and singing out in a room full of people doing the same, kept my energy up and the joy flowing.

It wasn’t until after I had gotten home, that the pendulum swung back again. I don’t know if it was watching stories on social media overflowing with pain and anger, or the fact that the weekend is quickly approaching it’s end.
The best weather we’ve had all week has graced us today. “Should”s fill my head. I should be enjoying the weather properly, actively, instead of convincing myself to leave the bed I had returned to, and sitting on the slab of cement outside my door. I should be utterly happy, tickled pink, over my many blessings.

Find the pleasant things.
The wind is more than a slight breeze. It sighs and whispers through the trees, wood creaking beneath birdsong. The ebb and flow of ocean waves sound to rest within their boughs. I wonder what all of the birds are saying. They have no moral dilemma, no sense of uncertain future. A Mourning Dove calls, and I am transported into a childhood memory.

There are no details, despite the picture not blurring. It wasn’t a complete memory. Although real and true, it is a mixture of memory, old photographs, and possibly dreams. Isn’t nostalgia interesting? Looking back, I long for those days. Chalk on the driveway, making homes under trees, being unafraid to let loose a shout or scream; they sit on the surface. Oil and water, or a soup you skim the fat from; nostalgia is like that.

Nearby, a train’s deep whistle echoes and just like that, I’m pulled into the present. More “should”s are waiting, both question and command. Sometimes, I wish I was simple, but that smells strongly of the roses they make all those glasses from.

That is where I leave you for now, friends and strangers. Answers have not yet turned into action or soaked into my grey matter. Health and peace to you these days, and thank you for sticking around through the above partial brain dump.

Friday Morn

I hit almost every red light on my drive to work but it just gave me more time to sing along with the radio. Walking through the parking ramp, inhaling and relishing the cool morning air, underlying dampness foretells a hot day. The florescent lamps, ever present, are drowned out by birdsong and I take another sip of coffee before looping the other half of my mask around an ear. There are a few people in the building, yet quiet is predominant. A “good morning” to the maintenance man, journey through the hallway of broken chairs and the pat pat pat of my steps on the concrete stairs brings me back to work.
Happy Friday.

Growing Pains

The sun is out today after a couple weeks of it hiding, taking my energy with it. I’m forcing myself to sit outside, take in the fresh air, and eat something besides pancakes. Clove is here with me and seems to have forgotten what being outside is like, too distracted to notice I’m eating carrots.

The sounds are a blend of what I’ve become used to in the present, and a pang of nostalgia.: Construction, cars driving by, a dog barking from a neighbor’s yard. Someone appears in our shared back-bit of nature with a plastic bag, and the sweet call of a morning dove quiets. I’m annoyed until I see they are picking up trash. I feel both shame for my reaction and gratitude that people still exceed expectation in simple goodness.

Clove is munching on her arugula and I, my carrots. A slight breeze waves the top of the container and disperses the sparse amount of loose fluff on her. This is good for both of us.

Maybe Spring inside of us is just as messy as Spring outdoors. With all of it’s back and forth, between freezing and melting, sunshine and gloom, our hearts go through it too. When will my chest pains push flowers from my bones, will this digging and searching inside yield the treasure I buried to hide through winter? Things are stirring in my soil, unseen. I guess I’ll keep seeking sunshine for my Spring.

Last Month

Let’s do “get help”

I think that part of why I have such difficulty expressing negative emotion is because of my high empathy. That doesn’t exactly make sense without context, I know. Thinking of all of the hurt and difficulty in the world weighs me down immensely. I know that there is only so much I can do to help but I want to do it all. This “give until I can’t anymore” mentality is good, to an extent.
Just because I feel people’s pain doesn’t mean that others understand that. Taking on so much, mentally and emotionally, actually ends up keeping me from helping others to my full ability.

So, my own pain and struggle, I don’t like acknowledging it. I don’t like expressing it and I want to keep others “safe” from it. Part of this comes from a selfless place, but really, lately, I’ve found that I get annoyed when people don’t do what they can to take care of their own problems. Because I’m exhausted by other peoples worry and complaint, I don’t want to share mine. The mindset of taking care of it myself, just pushing through, or telling myself subconsciously that it’s not real or it’s just me not doing enough, has completely infiltrated.

I’ve only just realized this, thinking about how someone I know, instead of calling emergency services, after being in a situation very close to the one my grandmother passed away from, waited an hour or more, for someone else to help them. I’ll admit, that made me angry. I was irritated because my grandma didn’t have the chance to call and had to wait hours until she was found. I’m irritated because I care about this person and they aren’t asking for or accepting help that will actually contribute to solving the problem.

This caused me to look at myself. Sure, I’m not pushing aside a severe physical situation onto those around me who care about me when I could be getting help from someone actually trained to assist immediately, but I have been pushing aside other things that I need to ask for help with or acknowledge to resolve with the resources I have available. I think one of the things that I’ve pushed down is that I’m mad at myself. In some sense, I need to call 911 instead of laying on the ground, downplaying it and telling myself I’ll be perfectly fine until someone finds me there with my broken leg.

If you are reading this, and you are the person I’m referring to, or relate to my side of this challenge, please don’t take offense. I’m annoyed at the struggle. I’m angry to see it reflected in me. It’s because I care so immensely.

I don’t reach out often. I don’t open up easily but, friends and strangers, please, be honest with yourself and if you need it, get help.
Love y’all.

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.

Perfection

It is beautifully quiet, for a few precious moments. The sunlight from our frozen outdoors, bounces off of my ring onto the pillow next to me in small dancing dots. Clove is free to wander the apartment but she has returned to her cage for a mid-day hay snack and possible nap.

At the beginning of this year, a few weeks ago, I chose what goals I was going to focus on this year. Since I could not pursue them all at once, I chose to save for a house and to focus on and pursue my health all out. The result of this, has been decreased eating out with friends, fast food stops, and more appointments than time to take a breath.
For my chronic pain and fatigue, I’ve gotten two diagnoses. Hearing a medical professional say that it’s not all in my head and no, I’m not being dramatic or overly sensitive is so reassuring. Admittedly, though I am happy to have some answers, there are no cures, only treatment for symptoms to try. I now go to physical/occupational therapy twice a week before or after work, and am still working with my primary on what medication is the best for me. The other part of my health is mental health. I finally am pursuing full answers to my questions so that hopefully, I can be better equipped to take care off my brain.
I read somewhere that someone was trying to change the term to brain-health because it decreases the stigma around mental health. Mental health seems to have worth and morality assigned to it, while physical health does not. Did you know that anxiety can literally damage your brain? Brain health.

Mental health doesn’t just cover people who struggle with your labeled conditions though. Stress and our perception of ourselves affects mental health. One of the providers that I’ve seen looked at me and told me that I have amazing memory and talent. I must have looked properly shocked. “Do you not think so?”
Do I not think so… What do I think about myself on a regular basis?
“You’re letting perfectionism steal your joy.”
Wow. In my pursuit of being the best me that I can, I was self-sabotaging. I speak to myself in a way that I never would speak to a friend, often in the name of being who I want to be. Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.

I had a friend over last night and ended up reading her some of my old writings. She is absolutely convinced that I’m an amazing writer and that I need to be published. I downplayed it, made excuses, and eventually was told “I’m going to shake you every time I see you if you don’t give this a chance.” She believes in me far more than I do. It’s warming to have a friend stand up for you, even if it’s against yourself.

I’m working on it, friends and strangers.
What is your idea of perfection?

New Year ‘22

Hello, and happy new year!

So many of us have been struggling this past year and many, just wanted 2021 to be over and done with. I admit, I have no expectations of situational improvement for this year of 2022. The empathetic exhaustion is just too real and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Now, I didn’t say I’m expecting the worst. No, I just don’t have expectations.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans, goals or things to focus on. I’m determined to continue growing even more than this past year. I’ve resolved to buckle down on a spending structure to save for a house of my own. The appointments, already working on my health, are densely populated over the month, and creative pursuits are still on the to-do list.

There isn’t really a “new year, new me” operation in place, just a “more me, still growing” kind of thing. I’ve begun reading, soaking up truth first thing in the morning instead of clearing social media notifications. If you have any kind of social media addiction, escapist scrolling, obsessive opinion posting or other, I think you will agree with me that it has become a hard and fast habit. With any habit, it is HARD to change. Even if I’m still half asleep and the words I’m reading don’t make sense, I’m choosing to start my day that way, instead of scrolling because it eventually will break the unhealthy habit.

This year is going to be a lot of choosing. Choosing to keep myself to my budget, choosing to prioritize my health, choosing to focus less on consuming digitally and more on creating, learning, and caring. It is comforting to know that no matter what may happen this year, I can still choose joy. The amazing thing about joy, is that it isn’t an emotion. I can be in pain, depressed, anxious, or heartbroken and still choose joy.

Do you struggle to process your emotions? I know I do, especially the negative or “bad” ones. I try to find the solution to them instead of feeling them, try reasoning with them instead of processing. Happiness is great. Everyone wants to be happy, but what it took me years to realize is; it’s not the same as joy.

Joy is a choice and hope is waiting. A simple enough thought, but truly challenging for me when I look at it closely. Did you know that the Greek word for hope, elpis means expectation, trust and confidence? Hope isn’t wishing but instead waiting for something that is guaranteed. What do you hope for? While you are waiting, do you choose joy?

Today was fine. It started out quite nicely. As the clouds turned sunshine into gloom, and I was left alone with my thoughts, unrushed, I wasn’t excited to keep going. My goals struck me as pointless and my pain crept in to whisper that there is nothing to wait for. But… I remembered my reading from this morning, about joy and hope. Admittedly I may have been a little too excited about new word meanings in ancient languages at the time. The point is that I was able to choose joy. I’m not happy right now but I’m waiting for the time that I will be and choosing to find the opportunity for growth, the good, and taking one step at a time.

What do you think friends and strangers? The structure of this post is a bit scrambled but did you relate? Maybe you disagree. Either way, I hope your day is lovely and your life is joyful.

Until next time.
R&C

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.