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.

Castlecore – Writing Snippet 1

The cool stone of the castle wall remains solid against my back as the trees bend this way and that, shushing loudly. Clutching my cloak closer about me, I take a deep breath and continue across the rampart, pushed by the whipping wind. It was time for one of us to pay attention to the pleas of the townspeople and no silver spoon was going to blind me to the truth. Thankfully it was dark tonight, the moon hidden by grey clouds. I struggled against the heavy wooden door, finally slipping inside and locking it behind me.

If they knew what I was doing, what a load of trouble I would be in. I descended the spiraling stairs quietly. Of course, I already had not garnered much favor, rejecting the proposal that had meant to bind our kingdom to another. No, I would not be traded as an object, treasurers bartering using my being as leverage. There was more to being a daughter of the late king than that and I was bound and determined to set things right no matter what it would take.

“Going somewhere Princess?” I paused, before straightening, facing one of the knights.
“I’m on my way to the banquet of course.”
“This is certainly an interesting route to take there.” he replied, raising a brow and eying my cloak. “Might I escort you, your majesty?”
I sighed lightly. “Fine, you caught me. I was going to the kitchen beforehand to get some extra of the good stuff before I have to act all proper and pick at my food.”
His chuckle told me that he had fallen for the half-truth. “I see” he bowed slightly before moving away. “Don’t take too long or too much. The court are deprived of one of their most precious jewels by your delay.”
I nodded, returning a small smile before continuing to the castle kitchens, careful to avoid detection by anyone else.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Dealing with Death Daily

Maybe people don’t realize

The impact to my already cracked heart

Even the mention of another human’s passing

Can lend

Spider vein fractures on the vessel that is me

What will cause Kintsugi

Precious pain not hidden, highlighted

Empathy interlaced like gold

Potters hands still hold

Us

I was forced to think about loss of life actively yesterday, not just in passing news or a circle of people I used to be part of. Repeating that I am someone who cares quite a bit about many things, there’s a certain apathy that I employ to cope with constant pain in this world. Multiple instances of loss of life were thrust into my main focus and my heart just aches. It physically hurts in my chest.

For those that don’t know,

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”),[1] is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquerdusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-etechnique.[2][3][4] As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise

Wikipedia

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.

Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

If you’ve made it this far, I’m glad.

Thank you for reading, Strangers and Friends.

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.