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.

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…..

231 // A Moment to Breathe

I’ve had to step away from this place again. It’s been over a week since I posted here, though not necessarily since I’ve written one of these entries. I do my best to get down my thoughts and reflections every evening, but lately I’m so exhausted that by the time I get a paragraph or two out, my eyelids start dropping and the next thing I know I’m out.

Now those entries gather dust in the drafts folder. Maybe I’ll finish them up and send them out. Maybe not.

For no rhyme or reason whatsoever, today is different. My body is mostly cooperating, giving me more energy to spend on one or two things that I love.

So much has happened since I last updated you, I hardly know where to begin. Last we spoke I thought I had turned a corner and was on my way to finally healing. I was wrong, and very quickly after that I spiralled faster and farther than ever. I’ve met with my doctor since, received good news and bad news, a Plan A and a Plan B, and told to do a little more waiting and seeing but the end, for good or bad, is in sight.

I got through two full days of classes for a much-needed certification I needed to teach Crisis Prevention and Intervention at my workplace. I’m excited to finally have the language and tools to further embed my passion for empathy, safety, and restorative justice into my workplace culture. More than that, I’m excited to have a team on my side driven to do the same.

There has been high highs and some low lows, but today is just today and the past week or more, all the good and bad is all then and I’m practicing more of being in the now. Right now, I feel better. Right now, I feel good. Right now I am taking a moment to breathe, to speak, to reflect, and to stop and simply say, “hi”.

222 // A Miracle Morning

I woke up to a miracle this morning. For the first time in months, I woke up feeling somewhat…normal. My body was, for once, cooperating, functioning, not in pain, not in distress. It seems I may have, or, I hope I have, turned a corner in my healing. I just not entirely sure how or why it’s happened. My gut tells me—no pun intended—there was no one cause but finally everything I’d been desperately trying finally coming together.

I’d been taking my medications and supplements religiously. I’d been meditating day and night. I’d been hydrating continuously and practicing intermittent fasting. I’d been resting and doing things I enjoy. Then last night, I switched for just one meal to a low-residue diet and I think this, coupled with pure coincidence, was the last puzzle piece I needed.

My wife went off to work, so I spent my day and this new found energy doing a few of my favorite things: cleaning, collaging, drinking coffee, and catching up on the Science of Well-Being course. I did my best not to think about tomorrow, and for the most part I succeeded in simply being.

That isn’t to say today was a perfect day. I did have a migraine that would not subside without harsh medication, caffeine, complete darkness, and sleep sounds courtesy of the Headspace app. An hour like that fixed me right up and the rest of the day rolled on.

And now the day, for good or bad, is coming to a close. The sun is streaming through the western windows, bringing blistering heat that leaves me feeling heavy, suffocated, lazy, touchy. I anticipate the joys and trials of the day will fade into an uncomfortable eagerness to end the weekend and get on with what the work week will throw at me. I’ve had enough of rest. I’m ready to begin.

221 // On Edge

There is nothing to do and nowhere to be today. Nothing anyone is asking of me and nothing I can ask of myself. I have hours to fill however I choose. I’d love it if it weren’t for this restless energy in me. I’d love it if I had the focus, the motivation to choose, to settle on a path and course of action. Instead, I don’t want to anything but scroll and sleep.

After typing that I decided that even if I only did one thing today that felt like progress, that was for me, then I would be happy. So, I did two. I did the dishes. Then I changed the blade in my X-Acto knife and got to cutting up magazine pages for future collages and poems. I forget how soothing that is sometimes. I forget how nice it is to put on music and flip through pages destroying and remixing people, places, and words.

After some time in my own bubble, I was able to emerge reset and refocused. I’m up and moving about the house marking completed task after completed task. The day flew by faster than I realized while I was in it and next week is already looming large in front of me. Looking ahead at all I have to do and knowing that it’ll be an exhausting, demoralizing uphill battle the whole way is leaving me with an awful tightness in my chest.

While meditating tonight, during the part where I’m guided to “check-in with the body and acknowledge my emotional state” I noticed I feel both fatigued and full of all this worry. I’ve been wondering if perhaps I do carry more stress and anxiety than I realize. I’ve been wondering if this is why I can’t seem to get my symptoms under control, why I’m so tired, so on edge?