on death and dying

2013 November 25
by steph

Cats aren’t supposed to be this floppy. That’s what I was thinking that night. But by then you weren’t a cat anymore; just a cat-shaped facsimile. You had a resemblance to my cat, as long as I didn’t look too long or too closely. Cats aren’t supposed to be so stiff, either. That’s what I was thinking the next morning. But by then you weren’t really even a cat-shaped facsimile; you were just a lump of meat wearing a Mira-skin coat.

At first, your death felt liquid. You still looked like you. You still felt and smelled like you. But your head lolled, and your neck and back had no tone when I picked you up. Holding you felt like holding a bag of water. I was awash in tears and lost in an ocean of grief and guilt. I kept expecting to see your sides move when you breathed, but you were done breathing. And then after a while, your death felt solid, cold. Your eyes stared sightless. Your soft belly was still yielding, but it felt cool and dense when I smoothed over the downy fur there, in a way that it never felt when you lived. It wasn’t flesh any more; just meat. The spaces between things, where you lived, had solidified and hardened and formed a barrier, a wall.

It happened so quickly. Just seconds after the injection, the vet looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, Mom; she’s gone.” And her tone of voice was almost surprised, despite hers having been the hand to administer the injection. And I just wanted to hit her for her tone of voice. I wanted her to stop talking and leave me alone. I knew you were gone. You’d been gone since two days earlier when you’d managed to stagger to the backdoor, then collapsed against the door frame when I opened the door for you, unable to go any further, and seemingly forgetting what you’d come there for in the first place. From there it was just a patient wait for your body to catch up to the rest of you. And yes, there were moments when you came back, temporarily. Death is a process, after all; it doesn’t happen all at once. I knew that the final stage in that process had just happened before my eyes, at my direction. I didn’t need her words confirming it.

It’s an awful responsibility, choosing the moment when another being’s life will end. It feels huge and awful. I find myself over and over again asking: What gives me the right? And it’s a new revelation every time when I realize it’s not a right; it’s a responsibility. Caring for you is my responsibility; it was for the 19+ years we shared. It’s supposed to feel huge and awful, because choosing to end a life is not a responsibility to take lightly.

There are options for caring for the living: which foods to feed you, how often to visit the vet, whether to let you drink from the toilet boil. Death eliminates those options, and that makes it feel different, but it’s not. It’s still caring for you in the best way I can. Death is inevitable. In your case, when I made that decision, death was also imminent. Part of me wishes I’d chosen to act sooner, just in case you were suffering and I couldn’t tell; part of me wishes I’d waited longer to act, cuddled you on my lap and given you pain meds until you wound down on your own and stopped ticking; and part of me knows that I made the best choice I could, that my aim was to bring you comfort while I still could, and prevent you from suffering when I first suspected that the comfort of my lap and the pain meds fell short of meeting your needs. And that’s the part of me that knows there’s no real way to know with certainty that the timing I chose was “right.” It’s a process, and I’ll never know what your experience of it was. All I have is my own experience to go by.

Mira napping, summer 2013There are so many little reminders of you. Mistaking a riff of music or the call of a bird for your voice, just for a fraction of an instant. Picking up your food dish to clean it and put it away permanently. Deciding what to do with the stool we left out so you could climb up to and down from the bed in two hops when you stopped being able to make it in one. Seeing a shadow on the couch and for an instant thinking it was you, curled up napping there. The small collection of prescriptions from the vet. No doubt the reminders will fade eventually, the reality of life without you will sink in and feel more every-day. I can feel that process starting already. But as Ferne said, what is remembered, lives; so as long as I live, you will too, my Mir-cat. I like to think of the air that I breathed as containing molecules that you had once breathed in, too. That on a biochemical level as well as a daily one, we shared life together. That we are all one, made of star-stuff, alive or dead. And life, while we have it, is a very precious gift.

I keep remembering the things I didn’t do for you: never allowed you to live in a single-cat household; never got the cat-door installed in this house; rarely let you outside at night, however much you wanted it; sometimes didn’t let you outside at all, when I got tired of your constant state of wanting to be on the other side of that door, whichever side that was. But I try to remind myself of the things I did do, too: get a house that had a yard where it was safe to let you roam (or nap); feed and water you; cuddle you and pet you and brush you; sneak you bits of tuna when Cali wasn’t looking to make sure you got your fair share (or maybe a little extra); rearrange the laptop so there was room for you in my lap, too.

Another thing I keep remembering is to say and show my love to those who matter. In your case I knew the end was coming, and I could spend those last few days showering you with affection and attention and caring for you. But I won’t always get that opportunity, and your death has reminded me of that–reminded me that it’s the years before the end that set that tone. The little day-to-day things that go on for years are what memories are made of, and I’m more resolved than ever to try to make my little day-to-day actions full of love.

I’ve always had an aversion to the phrase “passed away.” In large part because it’s complicit in our culture’s tendency to sweep death under the rug. Tiptoe around it, don’t talk about it. Part of me hated that they escorted me out the back door so that I could walk home with your body in a cardboard box without anyone else there seeing me leave. I didn’t want you to “pass away,” to float silently out of life without acknowledgement, avoiding the eyes and awareness of the others in the well-lit lobby in exchange for the darkness of the parking lot. Yeah, it’s no fun to be seen by whoever happens to be in the lobby when I’m red-eyed and snot-nosed, crying and carrying a tiny coffin-shaped box. Because it’s no fun to be red-eyed and snot-nosed, crying and carrying a tiny coffin-shaped box. But it’s real. And I have to wonder if they did it for me, or for all those folks who would’ve seen me and known that I was carrying death home in a box. Because they would have been even more uncomfortable than I, I bet.

Yet while part of me has these judgments, another part of me knows that they feel compassion. They know how hard it is to be the one who decides. And how hard their jobs must be, to be the ones who do–inserting the needles and pushing down on the plungers. To want so badly to say something that makes it better, even while knowing that words aren’t going to make it better, or easier. It is what it is. And it’s hard. Acknowledging that what once was, is no more–that sucks. It’s hard to stay in that place of awkwardness and fear. Hard to stay there when it’s me feeling the grief, and in some ways even harder, I think, when I’m just witnessing someone else’s grief, because even someone else’s grief reminds me of my own. My own grief, and my own eventual death. I understand that sometimes it’s easier just not to think about it.

the prodigal blogger returns

2013 October 21
by steph

I haven’t written anything here for a while (over a year – it took some trial and error for me to remember how to log in). And chances are that I won’t be super prolific, and probably not regular either, about blogging here just yet. Life has been busy, and I don’t spend as much time in front of a computer as I used to. I don’t foresee that changing in the near future.

But I want to get back into the habit of gratitude, and this feels like a good place to do it, and now is always a good time.

Right now, I am grateful for
* a beautifully sunny autumn day
* cuddles with my sweetie this morning
* food in my belly
* the opportunity to be in school, and the specifics of the knowledge that I’m soaking up
* opportunities to be present (to both joy and grief)

a snippet from my evening

2012 September 12
by steph

*opens the frig to look for food for supper*

Nothing looks good. What’s in the bag on the bottom shelf? Oh! Those golden roma tomatoes I bought a week ago and forgot about! Dinner tonight: cheese, crackers, and tomatoes. Where’s the pepperjack? *hunt*search*look* No pepperjack. But I need to remember to put the plumsauce back on the stove to cook it down a bit more and can it tonight. I can’t believe I’m not seeing the pepperjack anywhere. It’s a big-ass block of cheese. Well, lemme put the tomatoes down by the cutting board so I have both hands free to search. Oh. Look. Here’s the pepperjack next to the cutting board. I never put it away after lunch.

*fixes cheese and crackers and tomatoes for supper*
*brings dirty plate back into kitchen*

Oh right! I need to put the plumsauce on the stove. But the stove really needs to be cleaned. *Really* needs to be cleaned. And I need to wash the big pot and the food mill from last night’s cooking of plums into proto-plumsauce. But the sink’s got dirty dishes in it from the last two days, so that pot won’t fit into the sink.

*puts away clean dishes in the dishdrain*
*washes dishes*
*turns around and sees dirty pot on the stove*

Oh right! I need to move the pot so I can clean the stove!

*sets pot in sink to soak*
*starts cleaning the stove*
*scrubs and scrubs and scrubs at the drip pan under the front right burner*
*digs out the jar of baking soda to help with the scrubbing*
*sees spices and teas*

Oh, maybe tonight I can pack the teas. That should go pretty quickly.

*finishes scrubbing the two right burners on the stove*
That’s good enough for tonight. I can clean the other side later. That side’s not as dirty because I almost never cook on it.

*pulls pot of plumsauce out of frig and puts it on low heat, uncovered, so that it can cook down some*

*notices that the cabinet door is still open to all the teas*
*gets a box and starts packing the teas*

One box down. Another box or two of teas to go. Oh right! I’m canning plumsauce tonight!
*stirs plumsauce*
*clears off countertop to make room for jars of plumsauce*

I think I’m going to wipe down the dust from the bookshelf in the living room tonight, so I can stack boxes back onto the bookshelf and have a little more room to maneuver.

*gets rag and wets it in the sink*
*wipes the bottom shelf*
*realizes that there’s space behind the shelf that’s full of dustbunnies*
*rinses rag*

Oh, the kitchen sure does smell nice. Right! Plumsauce!
*stirs plumsauce*
*puts big canning pot full of water on the other burner on high
*washes pint jars and collects lids and rings*

Oh right! Need to clean the dustbunnies!
*digs out vacuum cleaner and vacuums behind bookshelf*
*stirs plumsauce*

I should finish wiping down the shelves now, so I can move the boxes, so I can have more room to move around in here without running into stacks of boxes. But first, I’ll sit down and write a blog post about how much my life feels like those little number puzzles with the little squares and one empty space and you have to slide all the squares around to maneuver the numbers back into order.

*sits down to write blog post*
*hears noise coming from the kitchen*
*investigates*

Ha! The empty jars are boiling now.
*sets timer for 10 minutes*
*goes back to writing*
*timer beeps*

Oh! Time to can the plumsauce! And I still haven’t wiped down the rest of the shelves. But wow I’m tired.

*fills 8 pint jars with plumsauce*
Hm. 1/3 of the pot of plumsauce is still left. And I need to look up how long to boil the water to can plumsauce. Good thing I haven’t packed up the cookbooks yet.
*looks up canning reference*
*goes back to writing*
*hears noise of water boiling*
*sets kitchen timer for 15 minutes*
*realizes there’s still 1/3 of a pot of plumsauce sitting out*
*fills more pint jars with plumsauce and puts them in the frig*

Great. Now I have 12+ more pints of things that need to be moved. And two pots that need washing instead of one. And I still haven’t wiped down the rest of the shelves, or moved the boxes so that I can walk in the living room. Or packed the rest of the teas.

*looks at what’s probably 12 pounds of whole plums still sitting out on the counter*

I cannot pick any more plums. Can. Not. Pick. Any. More. Plums.

*goes back to writing blog post*

lights of the week: 8/31

2012 August 31
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by steph

Amazingly, this week has had remarkably little angst or stress about work-related things. Which has been wonderful. Monday was a little hard, after having taken Friday and half of Thursday off work. But it helped some to remember that next week will be another short week. And it also helped some to realize, Monday morning as I lay in bed, that I hadn’t thought about work things at all for three solid days.

Today marks two weeks out from my anticipated close date. Which is the timing I’ve been waiting for to actually start packing things, so I guess this weekend I’ll see what I can do to acquire boxes. I’m getting more and more excited about this. Sometimes it seems so much more real, and other times it feels completely unreal. But assuming everything works smoothly, in about two weeks I’ll be a homeowner. Or as I’ve heard said (and seems more accurate), a mortgage-owner.

My friend who did the home inspection mentioned that he thinks I could do the sewer replacement myself. My instinctive reaction was “Hell, no!” But I’ve been digging at that, and I think what scares me about it is the responsibility. It already feels like such a responsibility to think of myself as owning this house; the additional responsibility of fixing a major house system right away is daunting. I’m spending some time thinking about what it would be like if I were to do it myself. I may still decide I’d rather pay for a professional to do it, but if I do, I’ll have learned a little more about myself along the way.

I went kayaking for the first time ever yesterday. It was great fun. And definitely a workout for my shoulders. I really enjoy being on the water. The rocking motion of the waves and the smell of water and the sounds of water are all really delightful. And it’s nice to be on the water in a way that’s close-up enough that it’s almost-but-not-quite in the water. In the water is when my fear kicks in, so kayaking brushes up against those buttons in a way that’s easy for me to deal with. It feels like a good growth zone. I would love to do a lot more kayaking. Enough that I don’t have to think about how to maneuver and can spend more time looking around at things. I probably won’t start on this goal right away, given that I’m about to buy a house and embark on that adventure. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll jump on it. And hopefully by spring or summer of next year, I’ll be settled enough in the new house to have some bandwidth to seek out the opportunity.

This week the plums started being tasty-sweet-ripe. The couple I picked last week were edible, but not truly ripe. And some of the ones I picked this week still had a hint of green to them, but I’m declaring them ripe, and have probably eaten a dozen of them, at least, this week. I’m hoping to make plumsauce this weekend. I still have plum jam from last year’s harvest, so I’ll probably not make any more jam this year. I love being able to go out and pick snacks (or breakfast) off the tree, though. I’ll miss the plums here. Guess I may have to add an Italian plum tree to my mini-orchard. :)

I had a really awesome weekend last weekend. Full of music and dancing and friends and bicycling and outdoor theater and sunshine and picnics. Riding home from Trek in the Park on Saturday, I stopped along Overlook to watch the sun setting. And as I was stopped some folks I know rode by and waved and called out hellos. And it was the last little piece of the day that sent it over the edge from wonderful to I-don’t-have-words. I felt such an enormous sense of belonging and love and this-is-my-place-and-all’s-right-with-the-world that, I admit it, I cried a little bit. And then rode home in the growing dark with a huge smile on my face.

I think I’m about to stop talking about fall as something that’s imminent and start talking about it as something that’s here. The frenetic pace of summer is slowing down for me. I’m feeling more quiet, moving more slowly, less inclined to larger groups this week. And the mornings have been downright nippy a few days. And I’m getting the urge to spend time in the kitchen again. It still surprises me, but I love the autumn.

What shines out from your week-that-has-been?

lights of the week: 8/24

2012 August 24
by steph

So many things.

House-stuff is mostly dominating my thoughts and experience right now. The seller’s lienholder approved an extension, so we’re targeting a September 14 close date. Which is nice because I’m not sure we’d have made a September 1 close date (the previous deadline). The entire sewer system from the house to the street needs to be replaced, at an estimated cost of $6100. I’ll try to have that done before I move in (am staying there), because that seems least disruptive (and because that way I won’t flinch and hold my breath every time I flush the toilet after I move in).

The money end of this process is stressful. I’m trying to get used to that, because it seems like a reasonable part of owning a home. Things break, and they need to be fixed. I’m just not used to dealing with numbers in my personal finances that have 4 significant digits to the left of the decimal (much less the 6 significant digits that make up the mortgage). My emotions are all over the board, which I understand is normal. Doesn’t make it easier to live through them sometimes, though. This is a huge change, and it comes with huge emotions, and huge triggers. I’m doing my best to stay present with them. My best hasn’t been as good as I like, and I’m trying to stay present with that, too, without judging it.

My real estate agent comes back from vacation next week (or this weekend?), but I think my mortgage broker left on vacation yesterday. Which is okay, because at this point I think I’m just waiting anyway.

Excitement is building, though. I’m looking forward to this adventure.

Work things have calmed down some now that my manager is back from PTO. There’s more organizational shifting happening for my team again, which should shake out by early October or so. It’ll be interesting to see what things look like then.

I think sometime this week the switch has officially flipped in my head from summer to fall. I’m wanting to cook more. The mornings have been chilly. The sky is taking on that autumnal blue that somehow looks or feels or smells different than a summer sky. I still feel surprised every once in a while to realize how much I look forward to and enjoy fall; for so long it was my least favorite season, but no longer. One of the plusses of it having taken this long for the house thing to come together is that I’ll probably get to harvest at least some of the plums here at the apartment. I ate two yesterday. They’re not really ripe yet, but they’re definitely at the edible stage; they’re just starting to taste sweet. (Some of the ones near the top of the tree – out of my reach – may be ripe, because I’m finding a few squirrel-chewed remnants in the yard already.)

I showed this apartment to a friend of a friend yesterday, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she and my landlady will come to an agreement. It would be lovely not to have to deal with having people traipsing through while my landlady has an ad out for the place.

I’m trying to get on top of all the stuff I have cluttering this apartment. Walking in the door feels a little like a maze or a gauntlet. My sleeping bag and backpack from camping a couple of weeks ago are still strewn here in the office, and my bike panniers are loitering near the door. Extra supplies from the bike wash last weekend haven’t found a home yet, so there just in a pile in here, too. And the row of shoes that usually lives by the door has attracted a pile of odds and ends. There’s too much stuff. I have too much stuff. Everywhere. And no good place to put some of it, it feels like. Especially knowing that I’m about to move, I feel a purging-of-things coming on.

Ahahaha! And I just popped over in another window to check my bank account online, and it looks like my down/closing costs money has transferred into my checking account now. I guess all that paperwork went through. Which means that I’m done with this round of waiting and have a flurry of things to do now before the next round of waiting commences.

Happy Friday, y’all!

a snippet: stream of consciousness

2012 August 18

I woke up a little early again this morning (shortly before 6), despite having turned off all the alarms. Eventually I slept again for a couple of hours, but I spent some time laying quietly in bed first. And this is some of what was going on in my head.

“$5k to replace all the sewer pipes. I don’t have $5k laying around. I mean, I *might* be able to scrape it up, even after closing on the house, but then I would have NO emergency funds. I’ve got credit available, though. Thank goodness I paid off all my debt last year. But I really like being debt-free. HAHAHA! I’m about to sign up for 30 years of mortgage-debt, and I’m worrying about where I’ll come up with $5k?! That’s actually pretty funny. Oh my god, I’m about to buy a house. Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of my life? Wondering how I’m going to pay to fix the next thing that breaks? What am I thinking? I mean, I know what I’m thinking: autonomy. Nobody else will rip out my plants, or play music downstairs, or throw parties in my yard, without me approving it first. And I can plant the whole damn yard as garden if I want. And my cats will have their very own yard to hang out in for their twilight years, with no dogs allowed. And I can paint, and add on, and tear down, and rearrange. And even though I’m doing okay at remembering that being responsible for it all does not mean single-handedly doing it all (or even single-handedly arranging for it all to be done), that I have friends I can ask for help, I am still responsible for it all. That’s what owning a house is. And I do want to own a house. I have no idea how this is going to turn out.”

Slowly a smile sneaks across my face as a tear slides down my cheek.

THIS is living.”

lights of the week: 8/10

2012 August 10
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Today is Friday. It is also payday. It is also the last official day of my manager’s vacation.

That pretty much makes today the triple crown winner for highlight of the week, even if the only thing I do all day is wake up. (And I’ve now wakened, showered, dressed, and am eating breakfast, so I’m well ahead of the game. And I expect to get to see two good friends today, too, which will be even more awesome.)

This week I also sent an awkward email, and was relieved by the response I got. I also learned some lessons about when/where and with whom I share some information.

The negative voices in my head have been loud and not just negative, but downright mean more than usual this week. I’m trying to remember compassion and forgiveness. It’s hard.

I have done some sun salutations this week, but I haven’t kept up with them every day. I did get a massage, though. It’s awfully nice to have a massage therapist who is also a counselor. Half an hour of talking and an hour on the table is a good combo, some days. Like this past Tuesday.

I hope your week has been good to you.

on beauty and art

2012 August 6
by steph

Recently in one of my drawing classes, Phil, our instructor read aloud to us from Robert Henri’s book The Art Spirit. And it so moved me, I felt so connected with what he read, that within a couple of days I had acquired my very own copy of the book from Powell’s.

Among other things, I think this quote contains the best definition of beauty I’ve ever heard. (p. 78-80)

The real study of an art student is generally missed in the pursuit of a copying technique.

I knew men who were students at the Academie Julian in Paris, where I studied in 1888, thirteen years ago. I visited the Academie this year (1901) and found some of the same students still there, repeating the same exercises, and doing work nearly as good as they did thirteen years ago.

At almost any time in these thirteen years they have had technical ability enough to produce masterpieces. Many of them are more facile in their trade of copying the model, and they make fewer mistakes and imperfections of literal drawing and proportion than do some of the greatest masters of art.

These students have become masters of the trade of drawing, as some others have become masters of their grammars. And like so many of the latter, brilliant jugglers of words, having nothing worth while to say, they remain little else than clever jugglers of the brush.

The real study of an art student is more a development of that sensitive nature and appreciative imagination with which he was so fully endowed when a child, and which, unfortunately in almost all cases, the contact with the grown-ups shames out of him before he has passed into what is understood as real life.

Persons and things are whatever we imagine them to be.

We have little interest in the material person or the material thing. All our valuation of them is based on the sensations their presence and existence arouse in us.

And when we study the subject of our pleasure it is to select and seize the salient characteristics which have been the cause of our emotion.

Thus two individuals looking at the same objects may both exclaim “Beautiful!”–both be right, and yet each have a different sensation–each seeing different characteristics as the salient ones, according to the prejudice of their sensations.

Beauty is no material thing.

Beauty cannot be copied.

Beauty is the sensation of pleasure on the mind of the seer.

No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty.

The art student that should be, and is so rare, is the one whose life is spent in the love and the culture of his personal sensations, the cherishing of his emotions, never undervaluing them, the pleasure of exclaiming them to others, and an eager search for their clearest expression. He never studies drawing because it will come in useful later when he is an artist. He has not time for that. He is an artist in the beginning and is busy finding the lines and forms to express the pleasures and emotions with which nature has already charged him.

No knowledge is so easily found as when it is needed.

Teachers have too long stood in the way; have said: “Go slowly–you want to be an artist before you’ve learned to draw!”

Oh! those long and dreary years of learning to draw! How can a student after the drudgery of it, look at a man or an antique statue with any other emotion than a plumbob estimate of how many lengths of head he has.

One’s early fancy of man and things must not be forgot. One’s appreciation of them is too much sullied by coldly calculating and dissecting them. One’s fancy must not be put aside, but the excitement and the development of it must be continued through the work. From the antique cast there should be no work done if it is not to translate your impression of the beauty the sculptor has expressed. To go before the cast or the living model without having them suggest to you a theme, and to sit there and draw without a theme for hours, is to begin the hardening of your sensibilities to them–the loss of your power to take pleasure in them. What you must express in your drawing is not “what model you had,” but “what were your sensations,” and you select from what is visual of the model the traits that best express you.

It feels odd to say, but by this measure I feel as though becoming a student of art is the inevitable result of the last several years of my life–that it’s what I’ve been training and preparing for without even knowing it. (I also note that it’s a lot easier for me to call myself a student of art than it is to call myself an artist. Perhaps someday that will change.)

I have felt more and more often of late that whatever writing or language skills I have are but word-juggling; that I have nothing of worth to say. But I feel more and more that’s not the case with my art studies. More and more it feels as though the things I have to say just can’t be said in words. I’m not yet clear myself on just what those things are, but I look forward to the exploration nonetheless.

weekly wrap-up: 8/3

2012 August 3
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by steph

It’s been a long, hard week. If it was possible for me to take it personally this week, I probably did, and not in any positive way. On the plus side, I could see that’s what I was doing, and there’s a part of me that knows those stories aren’t necessarily true. But it sure feels like they’re true. I think I’ve managed my reactions pretty well, at least, without exploding angst onto anybody else about it. Wow, but this is an uncomfortable place to be, though. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, might’s well go eat worms. Thankfully I was able to step outside my comfort zone a couple of times and go out and interact with people despite feeling all the yuck. Which was good for me, and resulted in feeling less yuck, for at least a little while.

I’m rebuilding my sun salutation habit. That feels good, physically and emotionally. Actually, it feels more than good; it feels awesome. I think a more structured practice of some sort might continue to be helpful for a while.

I had a couple of blasts from the past this week, and neither of them were reminders of good things or good times for me. Part of me kinda wanted to turn them into a big deal and get all angsty about them, but I couldn’t muster the energy. Those times aren’t now, and those people and places aren’t part of my now. It was refreshing to have that be my reaction.

I’m starting to know enough people in town that I sometimes (like last night!) randomly run into folks I know when I’m out and about. It makes me feel more at home here. I like that, a lot. Community is important.

Work continues to be quite stressful, but I think I’m coping a bit better right now. I’ve started saying no more, which really does seem to be the answer when things get like this. (It’s that or go crazy. Last week I was going crazy, and that wasn’t a good scene.) I’m not sure how well my saying no is being taken, but I’m not especially concerned about that, because it’s still better than going crazy again. It’s still been a struggle pretty much every morning, though, to overcome the dread in the pit of my stomach, and then to breathe through the anger that clenches my jaw, and eventually to drag myself out of bed and start working.

I’m going to try to get out of town this weekend. I want to spend at least one night in the trees, away from the city, away from people, away from anyone who knows me or has expectations of me. I don’t know where. Probably one of the nearby national forests, so that if the regular camp sites are already full, I can just find a likely spot and pitch my tent. It’ll be nice to take the motorcycle out, too. It’s been too long.

I hope your week has been full of love and interesting stories.

lights of the week: 7/27

2012 July 27
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It’s Friday again. And part of me wants to skip a lights-of-the-week post again this week, because I feel so negative this week (again), and I don’t want to be that. (And I recognize that as long as I’m being that non-accepting of where I am, it’ll be hard to shift where I am. Working on it.)

So instead, I’ll practice noticing and acknowledging the negative while trying not to dwell on it, and looking for more of the positives. And so, highlights and lowlights this week included:

  • Work. It’s a lowlight. In fact, this week it was more of a black hole than even a lowlight. I feel like something big needs to shift, but the timing’s not right for it yet.
  • Being sick. Also a lowlight. Thankfully this cold seems to be progressing fairly quickly, and I think Wednesday was the worst of it. And at least I can breathe again, which means that I’m sleeping better.
  • I’ve continued to feel unhappy a lot this week. A lot of it’s the work stuff, but it’s bigger than just my job. My life feels out of alignment, and I’m not entirely sure how I want to address that. I’m not sure what “in alignment” is or would look like. Bits of the Augustana song “Boston” keep going through my head. “Think I’ll go to Boston, I think I’ll start a new life, I think I’ll start it over, where no one knows my name. I’ll get out of California, I’m tired of the weather, I think I’ll get a lover and fly him out to Spain.” Except that I don’t want to actually relocate; I love Portland. And I wouldn’t mind getting a lover, but I don’t feel like spending money on tickets to Spain. But I’m getting the urge to do something radical just to shake things up and see if that gives me any more clue about what “in alignment” looks like. I’ve done what I’m doing now for a long time, and this isn’t it. So maybe something different is. I dunno….
  • I have awesome friends. The time I’ve spent with you this week, and the messages I’ve exchanged with you, and the thoughts I’ve had of you have all been real, important highlights this week. I have so much love and gratitude for you all.
  • I got wolf whistled while out biking yesterday. Sometimes it’s nice to get random feedback that I look good to somebody. Especially when I’m not feeling it so much myself. (Sometimes I find that kind of attention unwelcome, but thankfully, this wasn’t one of those times.)
  • Even though I don’t know how to shift the big things in my life that feel out of place, I’ve gotten pretty good about taking care of myself in smaller ways. I’ve eaten pretty well this week. I’ve done bits of qigong and meditation and yoga this week. I’ve slept, when I could, and taken it a little easier than usual to try to beat this cold. I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to trust myself, and to trust that when it’s time to take action, I’ll know it and will take action in the most skillful way I can (both about work, and not).

Where are you this week? What’s motivating you? What’s your story for the week?