Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.”
I was on my own today but instead of being angry for the lack of support I’m choosing to be proud. I’m proud that I can count on myself and come through for myself when no one else will. I proud of myself for being so capable and courageous. I’m not perfect. I made mistakes today and I won’t pretend I was my best self, but I showed up and got the job done.
I’m proud of me but underneath it all I can’t help feeling a little bitter too. I wish I didn’t have to be so capable and courageous. I wish I could count on more than just myself.
If I’m honest, it’s not really so bad as I make it seem. I’m not usually on my own like this but I can see now how fragile the safety net is, on many levels, and that scares me, and that fear, that is what pushes and exhausts me. It’s exhausting to have to try so hard all the time because I know there’s no guarantee that there will be anyone there to catch me if (when) I fail.
The doctor’s office called today to set up my infusion appointments for my new medications. I didn’t even know we were going forward with the medication change until I got the call! It’s a good thing but part of me still hoped that everything would get better so that nothing had to change. But it’s a good thing. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. It’s a good thing…hopefully.
I had thought today would be spent doing absolutely nothing, but this weekend has already been so much about me, my needs, and my self-care I felt it was time to dedicate some time to taking care of my home and other obligations. So, today is about cleaning, completing projects, and getting ready for the workweek.
While I’m in the kitchen washing and meal prepping my wife is busy about the house hanging art and making this place feel a little more like a home. The walls have been bare for years but it never really bothered me. I just figured there wouldn’t be much difference either way so why spend the money or put holes in the walls? But seeing the rooms with even just a few frames and pieces up I get it now. A home isn’t a home until you give it personality.
As the evening wears on I continue to improve. I didn’t realize how low I had sunk last week or quite how long it would take to pull myself back up, but I did it. I’m ready to face the world again tomorrow and to make sure I don’t let myself get so overwhelmed again. I’m going to do a better job of holding myself afloat from now on.
This work week will be a lot like last week, busy, chaotic, and stressful, but it will be shorter week and though I don’t expect to complete every goal or to maintain my focus or enthusiasm through to Friday afternoon but I do expect to do better than last week. As the demands on my time slowly return to normal, I can begin slowly to move my attention and priorities back to personal pursuits and away from work projects. This week will be tough but it will also be better, and that is certainly something to look forward to.
This week I will:
Write a book review for Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. One goal I had for this year was to write a book review for every book I read. I’ve already finished two books and if I don’t want to fall so far behind that I give up I need to get started this week. Of course they don’t have to be long, or even good, but they do have to get written and posted.
Update: There was simply no time for writing. I’m starting to sound like a broken record and even I am having a hard time believing my excuses. It really was a hard week, and I gave so much of myself up during my day job that there was nothing left in the evening to give to writing. I am going to do better.
Read 100 pages of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I had hoped to finish half of the book last week but until my work-life schedule becomes a little more balanced, I can’t hope for so much time to myself. I was able to ready 75 pages last week. I think 100 isn’t too much to ask. Bonus: Finish As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Update: I made progress, but I didn’t hit my goal. I did finish As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anonymous and if you up all the pages (minus the bonus book) I was only 20 short of reading 100 pages of something.
Eat one vegan meal. Before the holidays I was up to two or three meat-free meals a week but since then it has been hard for me to return to my old habits. Eventually I would like to go meatless Monday through Friday but I have to start slow and begin again.
Update: I made some delicious and easy roasted sweet potato and cauliflower tacos (with “chipotle cashew crema!). One vegan meal a week is good, and I’ll do my best to stick to it going forward but eventually I’d like to eat more meatless meals. I’d love recipe recommendations if you have any.
Work out three days this week. I was doing so well a few weeks ago but between my chronic illness and fatigue and the demanding work week I’ve hardly been able to remember to work out let alone get to a point where I can consciously avoid it. This week it is in the calendar with notifications turned on.
Update: Yeah, no, not even a little bit. I worked out zero days and I am beyond disappointed in myself. There really was no excuse. I just didn’t try hard enough.
Spend more time with my headphones in. Regulating my mood is hard when I’m tired or stressed so instead of trying to do it on my own and risking lashing out at coworkers and loved ones I’ll use the power of music instead, the best mood manager. Bonus: Catch up on my favorite podcasts too.
Update: I kept my headphones on hand the whole week and though I didn’t listen to a lot of music it was from lack of want rather than lack of time. There were just too many good podcast episodes I wanted to catch up on to make time for music. The point was to tune out and I definitely do that.
Stay hydrated. Drinking water is important for everyone but since I am taking so many medications and supplements every day I feel it is especially important that I fill and empty my water bottle a few times throughout the day. It will help with the headaches too I’m sure.
Update: I’ve been drinking a lot of Gatorade to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes but there is so much added sugar and artificial flavors I know I have to get off of it but it’s going to take time to get used to water again. I stayed hydrated, I just didn’t drink water.
Get outside and into nature. The extended weather forecast is looking very nice, and I have been missing our old trails terribly. I think it’s time to get my hiking boots out, pack up the dog, and head toward the mountains. I just hope this winter hibernation hasn’t withered my endurance too much.
Update: I had hoped to take advantage of the early Spring-like weather we’d been having but the weekend got away from me and I never ended up making the proper preparations by the time Sunday rolled around. Luckily the forecast for the coming weekend is looking even better and I’ll have another chance at the trails.
Clean up the backyard. Spring is on the way and I have quite a list of home projects to complete before next winter rolls around. The dry and mild weather is a chance to get a jump on some of the projects I know I’m going to want to avoid later. Perhaps a “little at a time starting” strategy is better than “all at once whenever I have the energy and the will power”.
Update: It was nothing but pure and simple forgetfulness on my part. I obviously asked too much of myself last week and didn’t take into consideration at all how much I’ve been struggling just to get through the bare minimum I ask of myself every day.
This week I will not give up. It’s going to be hard but the light at the end of this work week is closer than most Mondays. I only have to get through four days of it and no amount of frustration, fatigue, or failure is going to stop me from putting one foot in front of the other and giving my best to every task I undertake and every person I meet.
P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 03.
Hello, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.
I know it’s late but today didn’t turn out exactly as I imagined it would. I woke up early this morning to take some time for me and to write but it’s also family day and there wasn’t enough time for all the things I wanted to do before I was out the door and on my way and my family always get more of me than I plan to give. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. Time with them is time spent in warmth, and love, and laughter. It was a good day, but it went on so much longer than I expected. Luckily it’s never too late for coffee, not really.
So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I’ve got the usual ground light roast steeping in the French press but we’ll be trying oat milk for the first time tonight. Let’s talk about last week.
“Either way, he figured a cup of coffee would hit the spot. For what is more versatile? As at home in tin as it is in Limoges, coffee can energize the industrious at dawn, calm the reflective at noon, or raise the spirits of the beleaguered in the middle of the night.”
― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was a very busy one. I spent long hours at work training a new class of employees all without my boss around to help guide me and all while trying to manage my stress levels and wean off of my medications.
There was more than one evening through the week that I came home, head throbbing and my body sore from the hips down after walking all day that I could hardly stand. I’d collapse in the bed, sleep until my wife woke me for dinner, and then sleep again just to wake up the next morning still exhausted, still hurting, but still determined to keep putting one foot in front in of the other and get through another day no matter what.
The class is doing well and at least this isn’t my first one so I’m not completely lost. I do learn a little more each time and I can tell I’m getting better. Speaking in front of a group is coming easier now and so are the answers to weirder and wilder questions. Working on a school bus isn’t easy and you would be shocked by the outrageous scenarios and situations that can arise on a moving vehicle filled with children who do not consider you much of an authority figure. The training is extensive and surprisingly overwhelming and oftentimes even emotional.
By Friday I had over 10 hours of overtime when most weeks I barely want to work over 30. The hours in addition to the weekly drop in milligrams I’m taking in steroids, in addition to my increasing anxiety, and in addition to chronic pain and fatigue means I feel like superwoman right now! I know I’m not supposed to push so hard but I need these wins right now. I need to know I can still do things. I need other people to know I can do these things.
So, it was a tough week but I survived with few setbacks or blows to my dignity and now I can give myself the rest I desperately need.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have very little planned for this long weekend away from work.
Friday night I wasn’t feeling very much like myself. Between the steroid-induced acne, sweating, and facial swelling my self-esteem had been taking hits all week and by the end, all I wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole as far away from other humans as possible and live in isolation forever. I felt ugly and embarrassed and it’s been hard for me to imagine that others don’t see me the way that I see myself.
I’m doing much better now though. I turned Saturday into a day of self-care. I took a long shower and did a deep cleanse on my hair. I used lots of smell good soaps and conditioners. I did a clay face mask. I shaved and plucked and primped until I felt comfortable in my own skin again. I know I shouldn’t be so vain or so worried about what others think, but I’m human and all humans do at least sometimes. I’m not usually one to spend so much time on my appearance but I think spending more time doing things that make me feel beautiful and good is just what I need right now.
Today I’m was with my brother and his family for our weekly family day potluck. His wife had surgery last week and I was anxious to see how she is doing. She seems well, considering, but I could tell our presence weighed on her and only wore her out further. At the same time, I know she wanted us there and I did my best to be cheerful and useful. In turn they cheered me too. I need to get out of the house and among people more often than I have the energy or inclination to.
Tomorrow I’m off from work for the holiday and though I will be thinking of the great Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy, I am also going to spend the time thinking of myself too.
I need a day outside of time (as I call those scattered Mondays and Fridays marked “closed” on our school year calendar) to forget work, and errands, and chores, and goals, and to just be happy doing nothing but living and loving. I’m going to get out, see the sun, and go buy something nice for myself. I’m going to eat something bad for me, drink a beer in the middle of the day, take a nap, then do nothing at all for the rest of the evening and feel not one shred of guilt for it.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I was too busy this week to do much of anything outside of work and sleep but I did find time to read since my Penguin Little Black Classics box set arrived yesterday. I’ve already finished book one, Mrs. Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio, which was quite a salacious set of stories for Penguin to begin with, but I’m taking my time with the second, a small book of startlingly beautiful poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Each book in the set is only around 50 pages long and I felt that sticking to my original reading goal of 30 books for the year would have been far too easy now. I felt too much like cheating so I raised it to 50 books for 2020. I may raise it further considering not only that I can read many of these in one day but that a few of them I have read already. I’d love to add the whole set, all 80 books, plus the 30 novel-length books I had already planned to read, and hit an even 120 but the end of December.
In addition to the set, I’m also reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude last year and fell in love with Márquez. He has taken my breath away once again with his prose but the feminist in me is again screaming that though he writes beautifully there is so much suffering, oppression, and mistreatment of women and children underneath it all.
I can, of course, still enjoy the story and the writing but my principles will not let me overlook the pain. It’s so frustrating to read these classics as a queer woman of color and see so much that men miss in the way they write about experiences outside of their own. I can see how much they forget, how much they don’t see, how much they don’t care and when it’s a writer you really love, it hurts deeply.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that the coming week is going to be another busy one, unfortunately. The class had to be extended due to the long holiday and that means more days spent working long hours and pushing myself hard to get through the week. I’m thankful it will be at least one day shorter and there is a chance it may be two since I’m technically off on Friday too.
I meant to spend it helping a coworker and friend move along with another coworker and friend but the coworker and friend who was going to help too won’t be able to come and since I already have the day off I have the option of taking it anyway or going in to avoid the guilt. Staying home sounds like the more enjoyable choice but there is so much work to be done and my chances of reaching working enough to reach “time and a half” are already looking slim.
It only one day but living in a capitalist society makes these choices hard. I hate to let my team down, to leave work undone, to be unproductive, or to turn down the money, you know?
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though I am enjoying the late-night chat too much coffee for too long into the night starts to impact the quality of the next day to come. There won’t be enough coffee in the world to correct for what I take from tomorrow today so I have to be off to bed now and salvage what I can.
I hope you had a good week. I hope you aren’t feeling too stressed or down. I hope you spent time with people you love and that you made time for yourself too. I hope you are reading something good or that you’re making something simply because it feels good and right to make it. I hope you have something that is yours alone and if you don’t I hope it finds you soon.
Until next time.
Thank god we have an extra day off from work this week because I am in no mood for chores or errands or any of my usual Sunday stuff. And anyway, it’s family day, so it’s not like I have the time.
Today will just have to exist outside of time. There will not only be no work but there will be no reading, no writing (besides this), no schedule, no learning, and definitely no cleaning, organizing, or planning. I won’t let myself worry about what I have to do, what I should be doing, or what would be best for me to do. It feels so good to rebel every once in a while, even against yourself.
Family day was wonderful. Seeing my sister, my brother and his wife, my niece and nephew, and their dogs was just what I needed to recalibrate my attitude. It feels good to be around people who really know you, accept you, love you. One of life’s greatest tragedies, I’m now convinced, is how much more time we’re forced to spend with coworkers, bosses, customers and clients than we get to spend with our loved ones because we have bills that need paying and health care that needs covering.
After family day we took my little sister on a run to the thrift store. We found some art for our bare walls, a glass container to use as a new terrarium, and, of course, a new book, a collection of three plays by Aristophanes.
Afterward I saw my mom for one of our hilarious and awkward visits. The past is such a hard place to revisit but it’s easier when you can hold hands, go there together, share the pain, be honest about it, laugh about it, and guide one another back out again with understanding. My heart is a little lighter than it was yesterday and that is an awesome and rare gift.
I woke up still feeling a little down on myself so I’ve decided to scratch all of the plans I had, all the things I felt I had to get done and instead I’m giving myself permission to take care of myself. I need to take some time not just to rest and to do the bare minimum for myself. I need to find a way to feel good about myself again, inside and out.
So, long hot showers, a thorough exfoliation and a deep condition, a face mask, and some real time spent in the creativity room is all I’m putting on the agenda for today.
I’m feeling so much more comfortable in my skin now.
My wife brought home some flowers to brighten the house and with her here and all the time I spent just for me has me feeling all the way better! I’m myself again. I’m comfortable. I’m safe. I’m, dare I say it, happy? I wish I could have more days like this. Days to undo all the damage the world does to me and all the damage I do to myself too.