289 /// Solid Ground is Forming

I’m feeling good this morning. I’m feeling like myself. It’s been so long since I’ve had both motivation and focus that I hardly knew what to do with it all. I spent the morning getting through some minor chores and checking off a few small to-dos before sitting down at my desk. All day I’ve had a strong urge to write but of course, motivation and focus are only 2/3 of the equation. You need inspiration to get anything of value down.

Or do you?

I saw a tweet from Austin Kleon this morning with a simple writing tip: write down every dumb thought that occurs to you and each day simply choose the least dumb thought to write about. Well, I have been filling my notebooks with dumb thoughts for weeks. Hell, I have a dumb thought or two floating around right now! Thinking dumb thoughts is damn near a talent of mine. If that’s all I need to write then I’m in great shape to get started, to keep going, and to get as far as any dumb thought will go!

This might be the extra push I needed, the permission I needed. I don’t have to find a good thing to write about. I just have to choose the least dumb thing I can think of. Hell, I may try choosing the dumb thing and try making it not so dumb. I could choose the most fun thing? Or the most interesting thing. The point is to work with what I have: this brain, these ideas, this blog, and this timeframe. Yes, I like that.

Outside of motivation and focus, a lot of other good things have been happening. There’s been setbacks and stress, but there’s been enough positivity, connection, and kindness that life feels good right now. I feel loved and capable, and the people around me are feeling loved and capable too.

I suppose that’s what happiness, or flourishing, starts with. Being seen and having some say about what happens to you in this world.

I think the COVID pandemic has been a hole that we’ve all been trying to crawl out of for years now. The virus has had such far-reaching and complex impact it’s hard to say what was caused by or made worse by it and what are normal setbacks in a typical human life but between the losses, the economy, the fear and anxiety, the deficits and the changes in belief and perspective we have all gone through I’d say there is no part of society and no one of us that isn’t trying to find that new stability. That new way forward.

Solid ground is forming again, or, at the very least, this new chaos is less scary than it used to be. Our ability to adapt to the worst conditions is both a great flaw and a great strength. No matter what the reason and no matter for better or worse, I’m glad to be rid of some of the bad feelings. I’m happy to hope again.

229 /// Good News/Bad News

The beginning of any school year is at once exciting and exhausting, but this one in particular is markedly more chaotic than most. The added challenges—though frustrating—have also reminded me why I enjoy my job so much. I miss having problems to solve. Novelty is a human weakness. We will take bad over boring any day, I suppose.

The week is dragging on but I’m still feeling optimistic, surprisingly. There’s something to be said for having so much work you don’t have time to think about the stress you are under or the minutes you can’t get back. All I have mental space for is getting shit done and getting what sleep when I can.

The break I’d hoped would come with the change of schedule never materialized. My hopes have shifted past Labor Day. I fear even that will come and go without a chance to rest, recuperate, and reflect. My fear is that summer has already gone from me and I hardly got to enjoy it.

The good news is, I still feel good. My body is still strong and resilient. I’ve come through with enthusiasm intact and gratitude is becoming an almost automatic practice. I cannot let myself forget that I have so much more than most. I’m allowed to have bad days, sure, but I would do great cruelty to myself if I didn’t stop to feel the sun on my face, to smile at a friend, to see the blessing behind every hardship.

The bad news is a new wave of new COVID infections is breaking across my workplace. Much of the management team is out with it and we have a few more every day. I haven’t had it yet, so far as I know, but with my immune system the way it is, and my tendency toward severe and prolonged illness, I need to take extra precautions again.

I’m happy to see so many others in my building doing the same, but it’s disconcerting how many people are confused when they find out COVID is being transmitted at all. I feel threatened by them. I feel angry with them. I wish the world was such that I could hide away from them until the risk had passed.

301 // COVID Scares

The mornings are feeling rather frigid now. Increasingly they are frosty too. Autumn is well underway and I know soon it’s going to start feeling like winter long before the season’s calendar changes. The colors of Autumn are just past their prime now and the once vibrant leaves are dry and drooping. There is still beauty to be seen as they flutter from the tres in a flurry on every breeze. I’m trying to find ways to love the fall.

I woke this morning still not feeling quite like myself, but I’m a little more me than I was yesterday. There are further COVID scares at work and a coworker commenting to me on the minor outbreak confided in me that while she hope she wasn’t infected because it would disrupt operations, she kind of hoped she was because she could use the time off.

This is what I was talking about yesterday. It’s sad we have to hope for sickness, for this particular sickness just so that we might have a little time to rest, to reflect, to recover from the overwhelm and uncertainty of these past couple of years. We’ve all joked about faking a positive result but the jokes are sounding more and more serious all the time.

To be honest, I am scared of the rising cases and I am frustrated by the lack of transparency. I’m outraged by the relaxed rules for the vaccinated. Yes, I know that the chances of severe disease and spread are low, but almost all of us got vaccinated over 6 months ago and that means our immune response is weakening. There are breakthrough cases and some of the staff, not to mention the children, are still at risk.

A coworker’s daughter died from a COVID infection. She was the same age as me. I suppose this is what is freaking me out. I know the chances are I would survive, but I don’t like taking the risk. I don’t like risking my loved ones’ lives either, and for what? No one can seem to come up with a good reason, but we keep going out and risking our lives and each other’s lives all the same.

167// Beat the Sun to Rise

I had a late start due to a late end to the day before and an anxious night tossing and turning but I still managed to get a 20-minute jog around the block in before heading off to work.

Having to beat the sun to rise in order to get a little exercise in is a drag, but there really is no better way to start the day. The world is so quiet and the ordinary streets around me are so beautiful under the mix of twilight and artificial light. I’d planned to workout in the garage every other morning, but I love these scenes so much I might end up jogging much more often.

The work day was a lot quieter than I expected it to be. It wasn’t my turn to teach CPR and First Aid, so I hung back in the corners and helped clean and complete paperwork instead. I won’t have to teach again until Friday and then after that I won’t have to stand in front of another class for nearly 3 weeks. After just one week, I already need the break.

While staying out of the way I managed to get a little work done on a personal essay I’ve been turning over in my head for a while. Of course, it’s growing into something entirely different from what I meant for it to be. I’m trying to decide whether to wrestle it in or let it be free.

By the time I got home, the day had exhausted me. My health is in a gradual decline and naps are required at regular intervals now. The doctor has ordered me back up to the original doses of medications I’d been trying to taper off of for months now and the constant worry about how bad things might get this time is only making matters worse. Two steps forward, another two back. Progress never lasts, but neither do the setbacks I suppose.

166// Brainstorming Day

During the quarantine my wife and I developed a morning routing of waking up around 7:00, going for a 45-minute walk, coming home and eating breakfast together, usually bagels and lox, and then separating to tackle out individual goals and projects for the day. I’m so happy we’ve held on to the habit at least for the weekends if not the week days.

By now she’s already off to grocery shop and to pick up supplies for her new “weekend project”. Since we are still coming home early from work most days (for Covid-19 reasons) these “weekend projects” no longer need to be confined to Saturday and Sunday only. This week she’s putting in a new shelf behind the couch complete with “hers and hers” outlets and mood lighting. I’m excited!

As for me, it’s understood between us that I will tackle the little day-to-day chores like the dishes and the meal prep and work on my writing.

And that is exactly what I’m trying to do now. I’ve broken down my essay writing schedule over the course of the next week. All I have to do today is choose a topic, question, or argument, decide on direction and goals, and jot my ideas into a document. That is, it’s brainstorming day.

Tomorrow will be research day where I find useful quotes, read other works on the subject, mine my own memories, and put together an outline. For three days after then I just write as much as I can. At the end of the week I will edit and schedule the post. My fingers are crossed for a new piece come next Thursday.

164// I’m Hurt

I thought today was going to be a good day. I got through my first CPR class as the official instructor yesterday without any major mess ups or gaffs and I figured today would be even smoother but almost from the beginning it has been awful.

I don’t want to say too much about what happened because it may result in an awkward HR battle and some serious consequences but I will tell you at least that during my class today while trying to enforce our workplace mask policy, someone who doesn’t believe coronavirus is a serious or even real threat and was infuriated by having to wear a mask vented his anger, frustration, and quite possibly disgust by spitting near me.

The incident happened quickly and I’m still processing my emotions. I’m furious. I’m afraid. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I blame him. I blame my superiors. I blame myself. I feel sorry for myself. I think it’s a big deal and I want to believe it’s nothing. I want to let it go and I want to take this is far as I can.

Most of all I’m shocked. I’ve read about this happening to other people but most of those stories were about customers, not fellow employees. I’m shocked too because I do my best to always be professional and kind when I’m training people. I’m hurt because too often my kindness is taken for weakness and between my male coworkers and I, I’m always the one that gets the push back and has to work harder for respect and compliance.

After work I sent an email out to just about every one of my bosses across all locations to explain the incident and to establish my boundaries. For my part I will be much more firm when explaining the policies and the consequences of our precautions and I will not tolerate for a second anyone skirting or refusing to adhere to them. I also ended by asking that the man who did this to me be reprimanded in some way. I don’t need an apology. I need documentation and consequences at the very least and I won’t let this go until that happens. I need him to know he didn’t win.

But all that will have to wait until Monday. Until then I’m going to order my favorite Mexican comfort food, drink a couple of hard ciders, and spend time with the one who makes me feel safe. I’m going to take time to take care of myself and prepare for a war.