NaBloPoMo: Three Truths and One Wish

Snow and sunrise

From this morning’s walk, image by Eric

1. Truth: I’m on day two of cleaning and organizing my office. Today I found two canisters of pepper spray Eric put in my Christmas stocking a few years ago that have never been opened (backstory: Eric and the dogs got attacked by a dog running loose in our neighborhood, Sam put himself in between Eric and Ringo and the other dog, got hurt, and Eric wanted me to start carrying something that might help me if I got in a similar situation — problem is all I can imagine is getting out the pepper spray and using it, accidentally hitting myself or one of my dogs, or that I would hit whatever was attacking us and it would just make them mad, make the situation worse, so I don’t really want to use it), FIVE different coffee/tea mugs that I’ve been given as gifts or gifted myself but never made it to the kitchen cabinet so they could actually be used, a box of books I meant to donate to a local middle school THREE years ago, and a whole box of knick knacks and pictures and magnets and post it notes and other various office supplies from my CSU office. Blergh…

2. Truth: I hate this part of repacking, reorganizing, remodeling. You feel okay about the progress you’ve made, but the deeper you get into it, the deeper it seems to go, until it starts to feel like you’ll never ever finish. I also start getting sloppy and tired and have to work really hard to not start throwing things in boxes and hiding them in closets or the garage (which is where all this nonsense started) or convincing myself to just throw it all away.

3. Truth: Now I’m going to take a break. I’m going to leave this project as it is for now, start to cook some good food and look forward to relaxing and eating it, hanging out with some friends, slowing down for another day.

One wish: Wherever we are in the process, may we remember to pace ourselves, to take breaks and rest when we need to, to appreciate the preciousness of both making space and letting go.

#NaBloPoMo: Snow Day

We woke up to 13 inches of snow this morning. It wasn’t a surprise. As the hours of Monday moved along, the forecast kept getting worse and worse. I think the first time I noticed the Winter Weather Advisory, it was predicting 6-10 inches. Later in the day, they raised it to 8-14. By the time I went to bed last night, they’d upped it to 12-20 inches, and we already had six inches on the ground. It started snowing around 2:30 pm yesterday and never really stopped. Last time we checked it was 16 inches at our house.

I canceled my 8 am yoga class and my 11 am therapy appointment. I probably could have made it, with my all wheel drive and snow tires, but I didn’t want to risk it. They don’t plow our neighborhood streets, (other than the few people in our neighborhood with pickups and makeshift plows who drive around for fun, making the roads more passable), so you have to make it five blocks to where they’ve worked on the roads and there were multiple cars stuck and abandoned between here and there.

Since I had a whole day with nothing on my schedule, I decided to work on organizing my office. After I meditated and wrote, I worked on it for just a bit before it became clear I needed a big breakfast if this was what I had planned for the day. I made fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and french toast — particularly yummy and nice on such a snowy day. After that, I came back to my office and got to work. It feels like the primary things needing sorted and either removed or stored are years of accumulated paperwork, along with piles of unread magazines and books.

As I sorted today, I found some of the weirdest things. A second digital camera I didn’t even realize I had, various music players (pre-smartphones), power cords that have no mate (at least not one I know of), owner’s manuals for items I no longer own, an old bag of Greenies from back when Dexter was still alive with just one remaining, an old pair of prescription sunglasses, a collection of half eaten candy, things I’d meant to mail but didn’t, a credit card I never even bothered to activate, a sweatshirt I recently bought for one of my nieces that I didn’t realize still has an anti-theft device on it (which means I have to take it back to the store with the receipt and ask them to remove it).

Getting my office cleaned up and sorted feels necessary. The work I want to do needs a solid physical foundation, a space that is clear and open. If I clean it up and clear it out, what else wants to come in will have room to breathe. I’ve known this for a long time, even worked on it a little here and there, but with my burnout and the merging of what was in my old CSU office and what’s accumulated here over the years, it’s been hard to sustain let alone complete. Today was no different. I probably got two hours of work in, cleared some space before I couldn’t do anymore. On the surface, it doesn’t look like I did much of anything.

And that is totally okay. This is how it goes sometimes, in fits and starts, a little at a time. I’m trying to reconcile who I’ve been with who I want to become, and that’s messy. I’m pacing myself.

Something Good

River and trees

From our walk

1. How to Be Kind to Yourself & Still Get Stuff Done.

2. Can You Say…Hero? “Fred Rogers has been doing the same small good thing for a very long time…” The original article from 1998 that the new Mr. Rogers movie staring Tom Hanks is based on.

3. The ultimate guide to the Donald Trump impeachment saga.

4. The new Black Friday.

5. Swimming Sideways: Navigating Grief As A Writer And An Artist from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

6. Resisting Fatphobia (A Social Justice Perspective on Size) from Isabel Foxen Duke.

7. How to Avoid Burnout While Trying to Make a Difference (And Recover From Burnout if You Do) from Andréa Ranae Johnson. “Feeling exhausted by your drive to create change in the world? This video is for you. Here, I share about common signs you’re experiencing or on the verge of burnout, how to avoid burnout and how to recover from burnout and why this is necessary for those of us that care deeply about the world and making it a better place.”

8. Your 5-day gratitude challenge: 5 exercises to increase your gratefulness, a challenge from Ideas.TED.com, which included links to relevant TED talks.

9. 10 Better Ways to do Black Friday from Be More With Less.

10. Go Ahead. Eat Your Holiday Feelings. on The New York Times.

11. McMindfulness: how capitalism hijacked the Buddhist teaching of mindfulness.

12. Black Farmers Were Driven From Their Land for Decades. Now, Some Are Reclaiming It.

13. forget thanksgiving: 5 indigenous women dismantling stereotypes.

14. ‘Queen & Slim’ Could Be One of the Great Love Stories of All Time — if You Let It on The New York Times. “The film is a rare portrayal of black people in our fullness — angry and frightened and hurt, euphoric and loving and free.”

15. Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Cancellation of Colin Kaepernick on The New York Times. “‘Cancel culture’ has always existed — for the powerful, at least. Now, social media has democratized it.”

16. Mary Lambert on Her New Album “Grief Creature.” (video)

17. It’s Time to Talk About Black Girls and Anxiety. In related news, Summer Walker’s Canceled Tour Proves Social Anxiety Is Deeply Misunderstood.

18. ‘She Saved Us’: Mourners Pay Tribute to Toni Morrison on The New York Times. “The Nobel laureate, who died in August, was honored at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York. Speakers included Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis and Fran Lebowitz.”

19. Trump ally Franklin Graham is thrilled that Chick-fil-A haven’t abandoned their anti-LGBT beliefs. In related news, Chick-fil-A backtracks, won’t pledge to end donations to anti-LGBT charities and Chick-fil-A Still Isn’t LGBTQ-Friendly, Despite Pledge on Donations.

20. Marie Kondo Wants to Sell You Nice Things. What’s Wrong With That? on The New York Times.

21. ‘A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’: Can You Say ‘Sincere’ And ‘Heartening’?

22. Victoria’s Secret, Struggling on Many Fronts, Cancels Annual Fashion Show on The New York Times. “The decision comes as the lingerie giant has sought to overcome a host of challenges, including criticism of objectification of women and its financial woes.”

23. How to Help End the Epidemic of Violence Against Trans People.

24. Humanitarian Scott Warren Found Not Guilty After Retrial for Helping Migrants at Mexican Border.

25. 27 Responses to (Never-Ending) Diet Talk.

26. I Now Suspect the Vagus Nerve Is the Key to Well-being.

27. Aimee Mann, Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. “Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit Aimee Mann’s third album, a world-weary showcase of independent spirit and expertly tuned songwriting.”

28. The Trans Obituaries Project: Honoring the Trans Women of Color Lost in 2019.

29. My Culture is Not Your Toy: A Gay Japanese Man’s Perspective on Queer Eye Japan. “How Queer Eye damages the very people and culture they were trying to save.”

30. Why Doctor Visits Really Are Different for Highly Sensitive People.

31. What pure happiness looks like. (video) This is me in the pool.

32. Stray Dog Found Curled Up In Snow Keeping Orphaned Kittens Warm.

33. Meet the Good Dogs Rescuing Koalas From Australia’s Wildfires.

34. Blind, Lonely And Ignored By All Other Animals, Helen, The Bison, Seemed Destined For Loneliness, But Then She Met Oliver.

35. Dogs Can’t Help Falling in Love on The New York Times. “One researcher argues that a dog’s ability to bond has more to do with forming emotional attachments than being smart about what humans want.”

36. Mister Rogers And The Dark Abyss Of The Adult Soul.

37. The Jungle Prince of Delhi on The New York Times. “For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?”

#NaBloPoMo: Poem Inside a Poem

Sunrise over the Poudre River

Eric took this picture while he was walking the dogs this morning

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

~David Whyte

 

“Do not let the day slip through your fingers, but live it fully now, this breath, this moment, catapulting you into full awareness.” ~Danna Faulds

 

it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

~Mary Oliver

 

“The original meaning of the word ‘appreciate’ means to move toward what is precious. Practicing gratitude is a type of leaning in towards being truly present. It’s a practice that reengages our aliveness—that awakens us to what is precious.” ~Mark Nepo

 

#NaBloPoMo: I don’t know what to say

Kitchen counter love notes

“Some things don’t work out”

For the past half an hour, Eric and I have been brainstorming things I could write about. I got up this morning, took the sheets off the bed so I could wash and replace them while Eric walked the dogs. I played on my phone, meditated, and wrote. Then I went to the gym for my Pilates equipment class. After that, I came home and ate, then went and got a massage. After that, I took a shower and got in bed to read. It’s been a nice, lazy day — but now I find myself 10 minutes away from dinner and I still haven’t made a blog post, and have no idea what to write about.

Eric’s first idea was actually a joke. He told me to write about D&D, his thing not mine, something that I don’t understand. After talking for a bit, he told me I could just come in and write for 10 minutes, call it a “brain dump,” but I told him that’s what I do in my journal in the morning and I’d never publish that. In fact, I hope nobody but me ever reads any of that — it’s junk, garbage, nonsense. It’s important to do, an essential part of the process, but not worth sharing most of the time.

So all I have is to tell you what I’ve been thinking about today, what I’m contemplating. I have been reading a lot of memoirs lately about addiction. I just finished one called Drunk Mom and then started The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter’s Worst Nightmare. Someone in my life is an addict, and recovery is something I’m trying to figure out. How does it happen? How does it work? What can people in relationship with the addict do to help?

The books I’ve been reading haven’t provided an answer, or at least not the one I want. It’s an answer that requires patience, a whole lot of waiting and hoping and not being able to do anything to help. Essentially everything I’ve read so far boils down to: the addict recovers when they decide they want to, when they make the choice and seek out help, (and sometimes it doesn’t work out). Sure, I’ve heard that before, that someone can’t get better unless they want to, that they have to choose it for themselves, do it for themselves, but it’s hard to believe it could be that simple, that complicated. For example, one of the books I read recently, the addict was in bed, feeling crappy, and heard someone using a leaf blower outside, and that was the moment they decided they wanted to live, wanted to get sober. In another, it was just a moment, not that different from any of the ones that came before, but something shifted and the person decided.

Addiction is further complicated by the fact that sobriety doesn’t always stick. Relapse happens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people recovering from drug addiction relapse. Some studies show that of people who are treated for alcoholism, less than 20 percent remain sober for a year. For many, they spend years of their lives in a cycle of jail/rehab, sobriety, and relapse. Rinse and repeat.

My response? I want to figure it out. I want to fix it. I’m frustrated that I can’t. I have no answers. I keep trying, don’t give up, continue to practice, hoping to ease suffering — in myself and in the world, when and where I can, and even when I can’t I hold that intention. That’s all I’ve got.

Gratitude Friday

Flowers in the bathroom

1. Flowers in the bathroom and kitchen counter love notes and pie. I haven’t had them in a long time, and I was sad last week because I broke my favorite vase, so when Eric was at Trader Joe’s, he brought me home flowers. It was also my birthday last week, so I got a special kitchen counter love note AND a pie. I also made myself cupcakes and bought myself two new pairs of the softest pajama pants ever.

Apple pieCupcakePajama pants

2. Morning walks. Even though it’s dark, I love going so early because hardly anyone else is out, except for the deer.

Deer

Can you find the deer?

3. 52 years. It’s been a good life, and I’ll take a few more decades of it, please. I got lots of celebrations last week, spread out so that I could recover from peopling in between.

Ringo with Christmas socks

Birthday present from my brother, which Ringo was certain were a toy — this is his look of disappointment when he found out they were just socks

4. Practice. I’ve been leaning in this week, have needed the extra support.

Buddha

5. My tiny family. Ringo turned six this past week and Sam is as sweet as ever.

Bonus joy: Writing with Carrie, writing with Chloe’ and Mikalina (and cracking each other up), having tea with Chloe’ which also meant I got to see Pancho and Franny, dinner with Heather and Stacey and their good news about their move and a new job, dinner with Jon and Chelsey, long naps, a warm shower, a tall glass of cold clean water, texting with people I love, apple pie oatmeal (one part oatmeal, one part apple pie), writing, yoga, inside jokes (not because it leaves anyone out, but because it represents a long history with someone who makes you laugh), Thanksgiving break (which means Eric will be home all week), getting all the laundry done and put away, an easy salad mix in a bag, a quiet snow day, new music, good books and tv and movies.

#NaBloPoMo: No Easy Answers

A snowy field with trees

From our walk this morning

When you are trying to write something to post every day, there are days like this. Days where there are at least three big topics you might write about, but each one feels too big and you aren’t really sure exactly what you have to say about it anyway.

For example, today I’m thinking about: how to know what to do when the symptoms you are dealing with are connected to multiple conditions, how to help someone who is struggling, and the difficulty of decluttering. In regards to the first, I was thinking this morning how some of my current primary symptoms are fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Tracing them back to a single source or cause in order to track down a fix isn’t really all that easy since besides external environmental factors out of my control and difficult to pinpoint, they are some of the key symptoms of being highly sensitive, having an autoimmune disorder, having seasonal affective disorder, being perimenopausal, and suffering from burnout — all things I’m dealing with.

Then there’s knowing someone is struggling but not knowing how to help, and how much more complicated it gets when the one(s) struggling don’t even know what they need or want or maybe they don’t think they need help or don’t want help, and they are family, and there may or may not be children involved, and doing nothing isn’t really an option.

And of the three, maybe the difficulty of decluttering seems simple, but it’s not. I brought home things that had lived in my CSU office to integrate into my home office, which was already overflowing and piling up all around me. I started by putting some things in the garage and trying to sort through them there, but that just made a whole new mess in a second location. Eric cleaned up the garage, moving all my stuff to one side, and then said recently, “maybe while I’m on break next week, we can take that stuff to Goodwill.” I said, “what stuff?”, as I’d already taken the load of what I had to donate. He answered, “that stuff on the one side” referring to my things I was sorting but certainly not yet planning to get rid of, and I responded, “that’s NOT for Goodwill!” The space I do my work in feels like it needs to be decluttered and organized before I can feel good about getting anything done in there, but each time I even think about it, I just can’t…which only keeps me stuck.

I was explaining this to my friend after we were writing together this morning. That I had all these big things to contemplate and write about but none of them seemed manageable. After listening to me talk, she said, “there are no easy answers.” She took these three seemingly unworkable ideas, the whole entire human condition, and summed it up, just like that.