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?

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.

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.

214 // A Brief Normalcy

Today is a better day. I’m feeling more solid, physically, more present and connected to my body, stronger. This is always the first sign of healing. Before I can see tangible improvement, before I can see or feel exactly what and where I have begun to heal, I feel it in my spirit. A corner has been turned, but I know that doesn’t mean that the journey won’t be agonizingly slow and that setbacks are not on the horizon.

And so, because I was feeling a little better and because I have been feeling so down, I decided to venture out with my wife for some shopping therapy. The weather was gorgeous and having a few new things for the home made a big difference in my mood.

Of course there were tough moments. This ulcerative colitis flare has progressed so far that I’m left with a great amount of fatigue, pain, discomfort, and anxiety almost all of the time. There were moments today between all the positivity and the hopefulness, when I wanted to break down, but I breathed through it. I sat with my pain and fear and fatigue and I gave it space to breathe too and each moved to let me pass for a time and I am grateful for the brief feeling of normalcy.

Unfortunately, the outing was still just slightly little more than I could handle and when I got home, I crawled right back into the bed to recover.

The evening is settling in now. We have some rain clouds cruising in from the mountains, but they don’t appear too threatening. I’m looking forward to a calming and cleansing rain. Much of my cleaning was done last night and I’m basking in the peace of knowing I have nothing I have to do and nothing anyone is asking of me. I may write for a while or work cut and compile a new collage piece.

Or maybe I won’t push myself to make, or read, or write anything at all. Maybe I’ll give myself permission to just lay on this couch, watch some mindless TV, and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my wife before turning in early. I deserve it. I need it.

210 // Struggling to Recover

Today isn’t at all like yesterday.

My morning meditation didn’t feel very smooth. My stomach was hurting and couldn’t get my mind away from it to focus on the breath. At first I was upset about it. I felt like I had not only failed but wasted the session too, but looking back I realize that every session doesn’t have to go well, nor should it. Encountering difficulty is a chance to learn and grow.

At the time, though, I struggled to recover. I feel worse physically than yesterday. I got less sleep and my symptoms are flaring badly again. The good news is my doctor is allowing me to go back on steroids, which I guess is also bad news too. I’m not looking forward to the side effects, but I’m looking forward to having energy and feeling good again.

I’d planned to go to work, sit at my desk with my headphones in, and work through my tasks and projects one by one, alone, but as soon as I got there I was told my workplace was being taken over by another staff member and instead I would have to sit in an open area where there was nothing but distraction. I got very little accomplished but I will admit, being forced to interact with people did help my mood and made me feel a little less isolated and down. I needed some conversation, some laughs, and lunch with friends.

The afternoon and evening flew by far too fast. I didn’t take my usual hour or more nap, but I’m wishing I had. Maybe I’ll sleep better tonight than I did last night when anxiety had my stomach in knots and my mind running late into the night and well before sunrise. Maybe tomorrow can be more like yesterday than today was, if I start right now?