220 // Pretty Proud of Myself

My anxiety is sky high today! I have a very long, very important, virtual class to attend today and I’ve heard I will have to participate a lot. I hate participating.

At least, even though I’m doing this all from my little corner desk at home, I won’t be alone. My whole work team will be in the class with me and we’ll be texting each other the whole time. Afterward, I hear I’ll have an exam too. Even though I have little doubt I’ll pass, tests have always terrified me. I can study until I know the material inside and out, but as soon as it’s time to test my knowledge my mind goes blank.

Considering everything going through my mind, it’s probably best I get a long mediation session in, then get my water, my coffee, my snacks, and all my comforts set up to begin. Wish me luck!


I made it! The class was long and nerve-wracking. I’m exhausted. I did have to participate a lot, but thankfully the facilitators allowed us to work in small groups rather than in front of the whole class. I had hoped at first to get a chance to work with my coworkers, but I kept randomly getting placed with strangers. Now I’m grateful. I’m facing a lot less embarrassment after the fact.

Still, I can’t wait to hear more about what they learned and the ideas they have. For my part, I took extensive notes and plan to do what I do best, drastically change our training focus and make more work for myself.

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself too. I not only made it through, but I even passed my online exam 100%! Now it’s time to treat myself and indulge in some fast food: cheeseburgers, cajun fries, a nice cold hard cider, a big bowl of raspberry sorbet, a couple hours of mindless TV, and an early bedtime. I’ve earned it!

219 // The New Comfortable

It’s a short day at work and probably the last of my stress-free workdays to come. Starting tomorrow, the expectations begin to increase and the calendar starts to fill up. I want to say that I am dreading it, but the truth is I’m kind of looking forward to it. Being busy sounds a lot like the old normal and though it wasn’t always a healthy or fair normal, it was at least comfortable.

So, today I’m enjoying the peace. I’m not feeling guilty for doing less and I’m not pushing myself to do more than the bare minimum, more than what makes me feel good, more than what makes me happy.

I went into work but, knowing I would be out tomorrow and knowing that the time when we would all be too busy to talk was fast approaching, spent much of the time simply socializing. In the time of Covid, work has come to contain all the social connections I can experience outside of my own home. Turns out it’s pretty hard to be productive when you feel both desperate to talk, to laugh, to feel a part of a community, and terrified of being forced back into isolation any day.

I’m ready not to feel so terrified. I’m ready not to worry anymore, but I wonder if this desperation to feel normal is leading me to let my guard down. I forget to socially distance. I forget to put my mask on. I forget the hand sanitizer. I forget that we are still very much in a pandemic, that there could be asymptomatic carriers around me, and that, at the very least, I have a chronic condition that would only be made worse by a Covid-19 infection.

I forget to protect myself and others and that isn’t okay. I guess I have to accept a little more loneliness and a little more disconnection. I have to accept a healthy amount of fear and precaution. I have to accept the old norms are still not back and may never be. I have to work on making these habits the new norm, the new comfortable.

218 // Catching Up

Today is a resting day. I’m home taking care of myself and readying for a quick return to work again tomorrow. I’m somewhat better, or at least somewhat more resigned to my condition. It’s the difference between coping and healing. Both are important, but today is about the former rather than the latter. I’m giving up control, expecting nothing, and doing only what I have to, what I can.

And today, I can do some catching up. I’m catching up on sleep, podcast episodes, house cleaning, scheduling, and the courses I’m taking. It feels good to be back up to date. To know here and now where I stand and know that moving forward I can be in lockstep with my calendar but, if I’m honest, all this catching up is just a kind of procrastination.

I’m supposed to be writing. I have a piece I want to write, but I’m worried it’s too similar to the very popular piece written by the much more talented writer that inspired it. I’m trying to remember that there is no rule that you cannot write about the same thing as another person. I’m trying to remember that this writing is for me and that even if the themes may be the same, my story is still my own to share.

I haven’t mediated yet either, the second of the most basic expectations I have of myself. The good news is the day is far from over and I still have time after this writing to get up and do the things I know will really make me feel good. The trick is not to get distracted. The trick is never to forget the tick, tick, ticking of time passing and to do now what you really mean to do so that you never forget or feel regret.

217 // Looking Ahead

Today seems like it will be another good day. If I’m honest, the morning was a hard one, but after the first few hurdles, and thanks to a 15 minute meditation session, I was able to get out the door with my enthusiasm for life intact.

I’m back at work which, despite some initial hiccups and irritations, failures and fumblings, feels really good.

It’s the first day when many of our employees will be coming in to work since early March, and the juxtaposition of excitement next to fear is disconcerting. I’m excited to see everyone to catch up to feel a part of this community again, but being crammed into one building like this is making social distancing hard. As the day drags on two halves are warring in my mind. I do not want to get sick. I probably will not get sick. But what if I I get sick? I will not get sick. Will I?

Health-wise I’m feeling better but I’ve been tracking the patterns in everything everything from my work days, my meals, my medications, my sleep, my energy levels, and my moods, and I know that a good today means a bad day tomorrow. I’m not needed as much right now which feels like both a blessing and an offense but I need the rest so I gather my pride and asked for the day off.

Looking ahead, the week feels already over. Like a paycheck earmarked for bills and groceries, my time feels spent before I get it. I’ve got webinars and virtual trainings on my plate as well as writing, writing, writing. I’m feeling super avoidant and I have a feeling that come the weekend no real progress will have been made so I’m saying it here and hoping that the intention, the visibility, and the accountability will move me to overcome myself and make something.

216 // Moving in Strange Ways

My mind is moving in strange ways today. I’m wired but fuzzy, optimistic but irritable. I’m moving forward, but only ever in circles. My mind is marching on to nowhere.

Tomorrow is coming too fast, and a slow panic is rising, an uncomfortable excitement. I’d rather today drag on a little longer, a day or two longer, a week, a month, a year more of solitude would fix me right up.

This morning was better than this afternoon. I felt more focused, driven, productive, then. This afternoon is all restless energy. I hate it.

I’m trying too hard to harness the evil power of the steroids my doctor has put me on for good, but all I’m getting is jittery and angry. Headaches are rolling in and out because, I’m learning, steroids, though they provide their own kind of energy, are not a replacement for caffeine, but the prospect of mixing the two terrifies me so withdrawal is setting in.

It’s not all bad, of course. I made time for myself, for blogging, for cleaning, for meditating, and tackled a couple of to-do items I’d been avoiding. The littlest activity wears me out though and each task requires another 20 minutes of napping before I can move on to the next. I’m letting myself have all the rest I want though because with each waking I feel just a tiny bit better than when I laid down.

I’ve promised my team, and myself, that I will make it into work tomorrow, but I’ve made no promises to them or myself from then until Friday. I have a feeling forming even the least of expectations is setting us all up for failure.

Goals // Week 32: Getting Better Every Day

This week is going to be a busy one, though not hard, although it is off to a rocky start already. I’ve already written about the health issues I’m coping with and though I’m still suffering, I’m getting better every day and fully expect to feel much stronger and more capable by the end of the week.

It’s hard to feel so limited. To have to remind yourself to keep your expectations, your focus, your goals so narrow, but I’m trying to remember it’s better for the long run. This week I’m not looking too far into the future. I’m focusing on here and now, on my mind, my body, my mental and physical health, what I need to do each day, each hour, and with each action to take care of me first.

This week I will:

Rest when you need it. It’s hard enough to admit to yourself when you just can’t but it’s so much harder to have to admit it to your superiors, your team, and your loved ones. Remember that they want the best for you too. Remember that even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. You are your own responsibility. You are the one who must live in this body. You have to put you first and heal so that you can take care of work, relationships, obligations, or passions.

Medicate, meditate, and hydrate. Rest is important, but there are other needs to be met. Don’t forget your medication. Don’t forget to drink water. Don’t forget to be present, to focus on your breath, to observe your world, your thoughts, your emotions without judgement. Stress is your number one trigger and to quell it takes only 10 minutes a day. You can give yourself at least that.

 Make something with my hands. There is more than one way to meditate. Put on a podcast, get out your X-Acto knives and magazine pages and clippings. Find words to play with, scenes to reimagine, bodies to remix into your own reflection. Find your flow and lose a little time to something that belongs to no one but you. Don’t forget, the healthy mind needs new challenges and novel ways to think and play.

Write something every day. You’ve set up a schedule and made the work easy enough. You have ideas to explore and even if nothing gets finished, posted, shared, or turns out in any way the way you meant it to, even if you get lost, frustrated, or feel wholly incompetent and full of doubt, you have only to keep writing and it will pass, it will get easier, it, you, will get better. Just try a little each day, that’s all I ask.

Finish that book, then finish another one. Too much rime has been spent on screens lately. Uninstall that game, those apps, shut it all down by 8:00 PM every night and pull out a book instead. You’ve only got 20 more pages left on this one, and the next is less than 60. #) minutes before bed will get you a lot farther than that and is much better for you than that phone.

Reach out. I’ll expand on it later but, since the time of Covid began, I’ve found it harder and harder to reach out to family and friends. I’m becoming more and more isolated, and I’m struggling to both understand why and break through this reluctance. It’s as if I’ve decided I’m living in a time outside of time, a life outside of my life. I’ve decided I am alone and left the conclusion to stand, but life is passing by and the people I love are still out there living, loving, suffering, changing, growing farther and farther away. I don’t want to come out of this alone.

This week I will not get caught up in every passing emotion, thought, or physical sensation. My body is me and my mind is me, but not everything that happens or occurs is me. Not everything is a thing. There is control to wield if I would seize it. There is peace to be had if I would allow it. There are blue skies over every cloud, and every cloud is always on the move. It’s okay to let it pass. Let it pass.


Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

215 // This Is Not Optimism

Another bad night and another bad morning to follow. After a night up with pain and down with worry and low self-esteem, I’m tired beyond words today.

I started by trying to fight the fatigue. I got out for a short walk with the dog and made grand plans to clean the house and get some much missed writing time in but I lost the battle quickly to naps that were only interrupted long enough to eat and apologize to my wife before falling asleep again. The rest did me good, though. By early evening I felt part of the living world again and managed to mark one or two check marks of my to-do list.

I’ve already decided to stay home tomorrow. I already know that I’m not ready yet to return to work. I’m taking my medication, staying hydrated, and meditating to manage symptoms, but I’ve just gotten so bad that recovery will take more time and patience than ever before.

In addition to take I’m doing my best to stay optimistic, but like everything else, it’s harder some days than others. Sometimes I wonder what the value is in optimism at all. It feels like nothing but another kind of pressure, another expectation I can’t meet. I don’t want to be optimistic. I want to be realistic. I want to be angry. I want to be sad. I want to be negative and nihilistic.

But that isn’t me, or, it isn’t all of me. I’m angry, but I’m more than this anger. I’m sad but there is more to life than this sadness. I’m in pain but outside of this pain there is still beauty, love, and life.

When you have a chronic illness time moves slower. A few weeks of flare up can begin to feel like your whole life. The pain and pessimism become all you can feel, see, and think about. This low quality of life stretches out behind you and in front until no way out can be imagined. Memory of healthier times and the hope of healthier times to come fade.

I know this is a lie. I know that this struggle is as temporary as every other struggle I have overcome before. Soon, one way or another, things will get better. I will get better. This is not optimism, this is truth. This is being realistic. This is no expectation or pressure. This is an inevitability.

Institutionalize the Values

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, well, we didn’t complete the cycle of the message, right? You know, I think more people in our generation raised our kids to be more open-minded and to be more thoughtful and considerate. We had the words for it, right?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.

MICHELLE: When it comes to fathers raising their girls, I do think that the average father today does believe that their girl can be anything she wants to be and they are delivering those messages around the dinner table.

BARACK: Right.

MICHELLE: We delivered those messages at the dinner table, but we didn’t take them to the boardroom. We didn’t change our workplaces; we didn’t change things outside the home.

We didn’t institutionalize the values that we’d been teaching this generation of kids. So now, they are growing up. They are leaving the dinner table and they are going out into the world and going, ‘The world doesn’t look like what I was taught back home.’ You know, and this isn’t right.

BARACK: Young people are idealistic as they have ever been. I think they are more idealistic now than they were when I was growing up. The difference though is that idealism that they feel as if they can channel it outside of governmental structures and outside of politics.

The problem is, again we’re getting a pretty good lesson in this right now, there’s some things we just can’t do by ourselves or even groups of us can do by ourselves. As a general proposition: we can’t build infrastructure by ourselves, we can’t deal with a pandemic by ourselves.

MICHELLE: We can’t effectively educate the public by ourselves, through individual schools…