252 // Souring Mood

Wintery weather has arrived here in Colorado and along with it my usual irritability and listlessness. I’ve never liked cold weather or snow and I dislike it all the more when it blows in during what is the last of warmth, sunshine, and freedom is left of the season. Watching the grey clouds move in and the rain slowly turn over to sleet, and knowing it will become flakes before lunch, is only souring my mood further and further.

It doesn’t help that nothing I did this morning seemed to go according to plan. I had a class to teach and despite showing up almost an hour early to prepare; I ran into every set back I possibly could.

Equipment was missing, paperwork was missing, and I ran into technical difficulties. Class started late and I fear I looked very unorganized, unprepared, and unprofessional. My three greatest professional fears.

Still, the setbacks didn’t last long. I eventually found everything I needed and help showed up to resolve the technical problems. Class got underway, and I even made up for the late start before the end of the day.

All in all, though, it turned out to be kind of a good day. I am feeling somewhat better than I have been, with a little less pain and a little more energy. I get these good days here and there, but they are always followed by steep backslides into misery and fatigue. That’s ok though. The worst of today is long over and I have already cleared tomorrow’s agenda of work and obligations so I can get plenty of rest.


251 // Changing

I’m throughly enjoying my extra day away from work and putting extra effort into resting and being easy with myself.

I did my best to pretend these 24 hours could exist outside of time and reality, but at regular intervals I was reminded that the world around me is still on fire, both figuratively and quite literally.

The red light streaming in through the windows I’m forced to keep closed so not to let the falling ash and smoke smell in is a bit distressing but nowhere near as bad as the constant stream of bad news that seems to come through my phone both on national and quite personal levels.

The personal is paradoxically not personal to me and therefore beyond the scope of what I can share here, and the national is so universal it’s almost not worth mentioning at all.

I’ll simply say, the few moments of peace, no matter how small, have become critical to my well being and cultivating a practice of gratitude, savoring, and presence are essential to my sanity and stability.

I haven’t been meditating like I used to. The mornings are too rushed and the evenings find me falling asleep as I try to count my breaths and stay aware of my surroundings. Meditation started to feel pointless. That isn’t true. I know meditation is one of the best things I could do for my mental and physical health. I stopped because I felt like I was failing. That’s the simple, solitary, and stupid reason.

Tonight the weather is changing. The forecast is calling for all four seasons to make an appearance before the week’s end. Today we saw summer with 90-degree temperatures, but tomorrow will bring winter with a 60-degree drop and a chance for snow. In all my memories of our wild weather, I can’t find another change so drastic between two days.

In light of the weird weather and the chaos and hopelessness all around me, I’ll need solid ground and solid people more than ever this week.

249 // Real Life

It’s a late start this Saturday morning, but that was entirely by design. In fact, this whole weekend is packed with plans for extra hours of peace and rest, as much as I can fit in around my wife’s continued birthday plans and a couple of small family gatherings and events.

Now that I’m up though it’s time to get moving the best I can and make the most of the daylight I’m given. I’ve already cooked breakfast and hope to push a few updates and page edits out here. There is a half finish blackout poem on my desk waiting to be shared and dishes piled in the kitchen waiting to be washed. What I would like not to do is spend too much time on my phone or watching too much TV.

It’s no secret I have been struggling with my physical health lately, and the impact on my mental health is increasing by the day. I’ve noticed I’m giving in to harmful cravings and losing time to mindless scrolling. Screens are an easy escape but at the end of the day I always feel worse than if I had done something else or even had done nothing.

I’m considering deleting all those tempting apps off of my phone, or at least get them off of my home screen. I need a little distance. I need space to remember how it is I want to spend my days before the icons and notifications decide for me. More than that, I want to get back to not even having my phone in hand. I have limited the notifications I receive both on my smartwatch and through my headphones to only the most important, so my phone never actually needs to be near me unless I need it.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, and it has to start with my mental state first. When you have no energy, when you feel isolated and down, social media can feel like a lifeline and there are times and circumstances when it is but not all times and not all circumstances and lately less and less. I need action. I need work I can do and feel. I need real life again.

245 // More to Look Forward To

What a difference a day makes and how quickly optimism and hope can slip away. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’m just not feeling well. I’m chronically ill, stressed, sleep deprived, and over every bit of it, that’s all.

The truth, the hard truth, is today isn’t so bad. I’ve had plenty of support and positivity around me, keeping me up, focused, and moving forward. I showed up when I didn’t think I could. I’ve been productive beyond all the expectations I had of myself and ended with more energy than most days. THe truth is it’s been a damn decent day despite all my personal struggles and pains.

And by now the day is long past half over and the end is so close I have no doubt I will make it the rest of the way. Perhaps tomorrow will bring another turn of mood and circumstance, and I’ll find myself returning to yesterday’s high of healing and hope once again, or perhaps not. Maybe all I can hope for is another day of feeling capable and useful, and maybe that is more than enough, for now. It has to be.

I just wish I had more to cling to, more to look forward to than work and rest. I miss writing. I miss my art. I miss reading and learning. I miss being able to make time and to focus. I miss loving myself and my life. There has to be some way of getting back to that version of me.

And I don’t think it’s all down to chronic illness. I think at least half is this sad and lonely “new normal” we’ve all been grappling with. It’s sitting at home night after night. It’s keeping my distance from everyone. It’s missing crowds, and strangers, and experiences. I’m treading water, poorly, and there is very little in sight to cling to, to swim to.

Of course I can’t find the energy for the things I love. I’ve had so little to nurture or nourish my creativity or passion. With so little input, how can I expect to create, share, or connect?

244 // Find Me At My Best

I’ve always been weird in that, where other people struggle and suffer through the first day of the week, Mondays typically find me at my best.

I’ve usually prepared, both emotionally and practically, for the start of the week. I spend much of Sunday worrying and walking through the day’s tasks, expectations, and possibilities. Mondays then end up being the least anxiety inducing day of the week for me because there hasn’t yet been enough time for chance, chaos, or catastrophe to work its way between my hopes and intentions, yet.

All this to say that, despite the hectic schedule and the overflowing list of things to do, today was actually a good day.

We had a class of new employees start today and that means for the next two weeks or so I will be in charge of every aspect of these people’s work life and training. It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility. I love my job. I love teaching and I love affecting change not just in the way these people approach their job and the children we serve but I love knowing there is a small chance they will take the lessons and perspectives I bring to them into their lives and relationships beyond the workplace.

Still, I expect to be fully burned out and dragging my feet in pessimism and impatience by this time next week.

243 // A Bright Spot

Time never flows the way you want it to. Time spent in pain or exhaustion drags on and the few moments of joy or connection you get in between are gone before you can hardly mark let alone savor them.

My oldest niece and nephew are in town and visiting our side of the family for the weekend. They live in another state and at the very most I get to see them once a year but usually less so this is a very big deal, and a much needed bright spot in this dark and dreary time.

I’d doing my best to fill the time with as little worry and as much humor and delight as possible, but the responsibility is weighing on me a little. Still, part of me is proud to be so trusted, to lead, to decide.

The time has been wonderful but that means the weekend is flying by much too fast. I have a busy schedule ahead that I am in no hurry to begin. To be honest with you, the way I’ve been feeling, I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be able to keep one foot in front of the other all the way through Friday.

Last week, these past many weeks actually, have been so hard on me. I feel like I’m pushing boulders uphill. I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like a ghost and it only seems to get worse and worse the more and more effort I put into meeting expectation and maintaining some kind of normalcy.

So, I’m considering taking a break from life. I need time away from work, away from pretending I’m not sick. I need time to rest and to focus on my physical and mental health exclusively without the guilt, the pity, or the weight of weakness and failure weighing me down. I have the right protections in place, there is no reason not to use them for my benefit and healing.

237 // A Strange Disconnect

There is a strange disconnect today between my mind and my body, my being and time. Physically I feel better, more rested, calm, and focus than I have in weeks, but mentally I’m gloomy, pessimistic, irritable, and avoidant.

My body is walking through the world getting things done and dragging my resistant my mind every step of the way. I’ve been productive, but I’m longing for the comfort of a warm bed and the peace and quiet of deep sleep.

The path toward Friday, though clearer than last week, still appears incredibly long and arduous from here. I’m ready to give up before I have begun, and I’m preemptively disappointed in myself for just the impulse alone.

How do you fight such a big and sinking feeling like this? How do you pull yourself out of a darkness that has no reason or source? I’ve been leaning on the lessons I glean from my guided morning meditation session, and the thing I hear repeated is that resistance only leads to more unhappiness. The best thing is to let the thoughts and emotions come as they will and let them go when they are ready.

Underneath it all, I really am ecstatic to see some small improvements and increase in energy, I just can’t seem to bring the emotion to the surface. Perhaps it’s because it’s Monday. Perhaps it’s hormonal. Perhaps it’s simple burn out. I don’t know, but today is what it is, but I’m hopeful that with a little self care and patience, tomorrow will find me in better spirits.

Goals // Week 35: Push a Little More

This week my work schedule is a little more relaxed, though not by much. The school year is still in the very early days and as chaotic as it normally is, between Covid and settling into my new position and responsibilities there is plenty to be stressed and overwhelmed by.

Still, I’d like to take advantage of the few extra minutes I see here and there across the calendar and start finding my way back to doing the things that I love. My greatest hope it that my health will continue to improve along with my mood and I can muster the energy and focus to match.

This week I will:

Read for 30 minutes every day. I’ve fallen so far behind my goals I doubt I can make up the distance between where I am and where I ought to be. So, I’m letting it go and choosing to focus on daily reading goals rather than yearly. I want to read for just 30 minutes every day this week. Between lunch time and the time I use to wind down before bed, this shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Write for an hour every day. The morning has always been my best time for writing, but with my new position and schedule that may no longer be possible. The good news is I am going home earlier most days and if I can start cultivating the habit now, I see no reason why mid-afternoon can’t become my new favorite time to type.

 Implement one new “rewirement” habit from The Science of Well-Being on Coursera. I’ve already been doing two of them: gratitude journaling and meditating and it would be easy for me to just keep on doing what I have been, but I think it’s time I try adding a new element. This week, find a way to work “increased social connection” and more frequent “acts of kindness” into my day-to-day life.

Get back to updating my logbook and to-do list in the evening. This one I can do while watching my evening shows. All I have to do it review the day and mark what I didn’t and didn’t do and record the good and the bad. Then I think about my goals and tasks for the next day and type them out. It’s that easy and I get to end the day and begin the next with a clear mind and plan. Bonus: Start journaling both here and on paper again.

Focus on one day, one hour, one minute or moment at a time. Life has gotten pretty overwhelming lately, and it’s all too easy for me to spiral into worry and regret but for my health, for my relationships, and for my productivity I have to let the thoughts and emotions pass and focus my mind on what I can do right now because the truth is, it’s all going to be fine, one way or the other.

Push myself a little more, but only a little! With all the rest, medication, diet changes, and support from loved ones, I am finally beginning to feel a little better. I have so much to catch up on, so much I’ve been wanting to do, and I think I can finally start letting myself take on more work and responsibility again. I have to be careful though. I have a strong tendency to push myself too hard the moment I have a bit of energy or focus, and I end up taking two steps back before I’ve even completed one forward. This week, do a little more, and be happy you can do that much.

This week I will not be pushed by others. I have a schedule and a list. I have my goals and my priorities. I have to keep them at the forefront of everything I do this week. I will not blindly follow what others are doing, what they think I should be doing, or what I think they might think I should be doing. I will not be lead around directionless or powerless only to be left regretful and disappointed at the come the weekend. I have to live my time and live with my choices, no one else, so I will decide how it is spent, no one else.

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

233 // Heavy

I woke up this morning and my body was begging me, “Please, do not fight the world today. Please let us rest”. I heeded the plea and showed mercy to myself for the first time this week. I could have fought tooth and nail through the day and dragged my exhausted body to the evening, but I simply didn’t want to. I simply shouldn’t have to.

So, I stayed in and rested. I spent the day doing little more than sleeping and scrolling. I was utterly unproductive and I refuse to feel one second of guilt about it. And you know what? It turned out to be a good day in the end.

In the beginning, it wasn’t so much. All the rest in the world doesn’t seem to be touching the exhaustion I feel. My limbs are heavy and I’m not entirely sure it’s down to an entirely physical ailment. I have a feeling that depression is slowly creeping in.

I wallowed longer than probably I should have, but part of me knows I needed it. No one can keep their disappointment, grief, and pain at bay forever. Some days you just have to let your emotions take the reins.

When I felt the self-pity had run its course put on some music, took a long shower, and washed the negativity away. By the time my wife got home from work I was much more myself again, though still exhausted, still weighed down by my own worries and anxieties and all the uncertainties we all face while the world falls apart around us.

The worst part of living through “Covid Times” is having nothing but work and your private worries to fill your time with. The small joys I have been able to find do not always tip the scales enough. I miss so much of my life and I feel hopeless in the face of the bleak fall and winter I see rising over the horizon.

232 // Rich in So Many Ways

It’s been a rough morning and for a while there I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through. Before I could even make it out of the door, I wanted to abort the whole day. I wanted to crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.

But today is a big day, and no matter how my body and mind might be feeling right now, things might change. Maybe, if I try hard enough, I can change them.

That’s the attitude I’m brining to the day. It’s my first time teaching Crisis Intervention and Prevention. I haven’t been certified even a week. I haven’t even had time to sift through my materials, organize my notes and ideas, or to find my bearings or flow but already my workplace is trying to get their money’s worth and that means I’ve got to think on my feet, bring my best attitude, knowledge, and experiences. I have to bring confidence and enthusiasm.

I’m exhausted, burned out, and already longing for the weekend, but underneath it all I am so happy and proud of myself. I muddle through the material and molded and made it all in my image of what this job should be. I did a good job instilling the principles and driving home the lessons. I not only made it through the day, but I came away with big lessons and plans to make the next time even better than this one.

Health wise things are still slowly, so agonizingly slowly, getting better, or maybe they are only getting easier to cope with. Either way, my quality of life feels better. I feel more like myself, though I’m beginning to recognize that these past few months of uncertainty, pain, and exhaustion have changed me in ways I know I have yet to recognize.

More than anything, today was all about gratitude. I have laughter, support, respect, acceptance, and so much understanding. There are so many ways to be rich in life and today I feel wealthy beyond measure. I only wish it was wealth I could share more freely and widely with the world. I hope you have at least some small sum of what I have for yourself. I hope you know all the ways you are rich too. I hope both our stores continue to grow and grow and grow and grow…..