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.

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.

A peek over my shoulder

Hello strangers and friends!

Apologies for my late posting this week. I have, in fact, been writing! It just happens to be non-blog content. I work on the same story during the same season each year and this year I have made so much more progress than in the last ones. Still no defined plot but it’s so encouraging to see it finally starting to come together.

I don’t have much that I can put into words about my life right now, despite having many thoughts on the subject. Instead, I will share a small excerpt from yesterday’s experience at my local Renaissance Festival.

” The lines to get into fest are enough to put one in awe of the sheer amount of people. They seem to be a never ending sea, but in the forest, they ease. I was concerned that my spot by the main caravan would already be occupied but thankfully the masses were more interested in tromping in a slow line through the domain of faeries and gnomes.
I am hungry, but to purchase food, I would need to venture back up into the sun and dust to wait in a crowded line for an unknown amount of time. Alas, I will need something. Writing while hungry proves tumultuous to my line of thought.
When the forest is closed to patrons, then I will get something before the two mile walk to where I am parked. If I want to make it out of parking within the same hour, I really should set out around 6pm. That probably won’t happen quite to plan but food is important before that long trek home. “

Consider this a small offering in place of a thought provoking or escapist excerpt. Someone peered over my shoulder one of the days I was writing there and I had half a mind to poke him with my hairpin. Respect the space.

Anyway, I hope your coming weeks are well and good. Thank you for reading.

The Dream

Though my dreams and aspirations have become somewhat fuzzy these days, I realized that a core desire still remains.

My “what do you want to be when you grow up” answer has ranged from being a mother, to being an event coordinator, to being an author, to teaching English in Japan. Realizing that I currently don’t know what I want to do and that my interest in any previous 5 year plan has flatlined, is both discouraging and confusing.

Years ago, one of my dear cousins and I were looking for locations to do photo shoots. Various abandoned buildings presented themselves but one lives in my memory, solid, to this day. It was the most beautiful brick instrument factory. Sun reflected off of the large multi-glass pane windows, vines climbed the exterior elevator and the sturdy front door: stained glass window and rich finish on the dark wood, provided contrast to the pavement and metal.
It was for sale. We dreamed of buying it and renovating the inside to be full of conduits for potential. There would be various bedrooms, a library, a professional level kitchen, a music studio, art studio, dance studio, workshop and room for more. The building was large. The vision was that people with cohesive personalities and interests could live there in community and create through the different avenues. It would be our place.
Of course neither of us had much money at the time and the lot was bought by someone else. I don’t know what became of that building. I’d like to think that the new owner did something beautiful with it instead of knocking it down and building cookie cutter condos. In my mind, it is what we dreamed it could be.

My more recent idea for a small business, I’ve realized, would fit into that fantasy as well. I want to create experiences for people who, like me, are stuck in the 9-5 grind and wish they could live a different life, but can’t. Boxed escapes brought to you not just by me, but by partnering with local artists and other small business creators. One of the reasons it hasn’t happened is because it requires a massive amount of prep, organization, community and time.
A different dear cousin is visiting me this weekend and she spoke of her roomate, an author who “collects” other artists. People supporting and working with each other, like minded, creating beautiful elements that, as a whole, reach the desired outcome. It brought me back to that dream of the abandoned instrument factory.

Admittedly, these particular people don’t fit what society deems normal or typical but there is a richness in individuals working to understand each other and support growth, even painful, in each other. It’s not something that I’ve felt comfortable sharing here before but I am what some call neurodivergent. It roughly means that my brain doesn’t work the typical way. There are a lot of people who fit into that descriptor and it’s still highly stigmatized. When we are able to share with like-minded individuals, unafraid to be ourselves, it is so beautiful. Safety to exist as you actually are in a community is not something that everyone has the occasion to value on the same level. Meaning, if you fit into societies expectations, you aren’t consistently putting energy toward presenting yourself in a way that is comfortable for others.

I may not know my solid, attainable dream for my future right now but I do know that having the support from people who understand me, and the ability to create and essentially share my heart with people in that way, that’s the dream.

Thank you for reading, strangers and friends.

Pinterest board for the factory is here.

Fear and Fantasy

There’s a storm brewing. I can feel it in the air as I right my toppled zucchini plant. It’s warm, windy, and the wildness creeps into my bones. I want to be wild and free like the flying leaves; soak up the adrenaline and be at fiery peace.

Tomorrow, my favorite weekend escape opens. I can be another version of me in a different world. Going to Renaissance Festival has always given me that feeling, the one I can’t quite put into words.

My imagination is renewed and a match held to the wick of my creative spirit. Maybe it’s that I don’t have to be what most people want me to be. Keeping to myself offends no one and I can slip between groups of people like a shadow, all the while taking in such delicious details.

I’m a little afraid of my excitement. A lot has changed since I was last able to attend, and I’m afraid it won’t infect me with that restful, childlike inspiration.

Do you ever get scared by being excited for something, just hoping it is as wonderful as you remember it?

Have a lovely weekend strangers and friends. Here’s hoping you get to revisit pleasant dreams and fall asleep to the sound of a storm.

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.

My Farm-stay Morning

This morning, 5am greeted me without alarm and I followed the suggestion of one of our hosts for enjoying garden-side bunny frolicking. Wrapped in a fleecy blanket, I quietly prepared a small french press of coffee before slipping outside to settle into the front seat of an old car by the barn. Steam rose from my cup as a chicken wandered past, no doubt wondering why I was there without it’s breakfast.

After some more sitting, watching the cottontails in the dewy grass, I visited the chicken coop, gave the goats some good head rubs, and went back inside the cottage to my cozy bed. Sleep overtook me once more and I woke a few hours later, sunlight seeping through the cracks in the curtains.

Leftover pancakes were reheated on a charming white dish and the rest of the french press drained while a fresh egg sizzled in the small cast iron skillet.

There’s something so lovely about sitting outside, shaded from the sun, with a cool, fragrant breeze stirring the pages I write on and enhancing food’s flavor. Two, towering, evergreens stand nearby, their branches swaying ever so slightly. Ants file past my bare feet on the smooth wood of the deck. A moth flits from wildflower to wildflower. Oh, what peace.