Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Clinging to the in-between time

Sometimes it feels that there is a like a quieter, almost suspended piece of time in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Perhaps it lasts a few days more.

It’s January 6th. I find myself wanting, as I often do this time of year, to hold onto that feeling of quiet. Tomorrow, many activities start again at their regular pace. My husband’s first full week of work, uninterrupted by any holidays, begins tomorrow. I’ll put up a few ads for more proofreading work, resume my Nia classes, and send some e-mails out. As a freelance proofreader, January can be slow sometimes, so perhaps I will have time to clean and organize things. I’m planning on taking a class at the community college this semester, but that doesn’t start for another two weeks.

Since Winter Solstice, the days have grown longer, slowly, minute by minute. But they still feel long. There is currently snow on the mountains above Las Vegas, and sometimes the temperatures dip to freezing in town. It’s not wintry weather by some people and place’s standards, but it is wintry for us.

I often feel like slowing down this time of year. I’m generally more tired; my moods have a tendency to dip lower. Hibernation sometimes sounds appealing.

I’ve seen so many messages over the past week about starting the new year “right,” to make lists, clean up, work out more, make plans. All of these things require direct action and the energy to do them. For me, this time of year isn’t necessarily about renewal; it’s about slowing down and listening deeply. This doesn’t mean I won’t make goals or won’t start new things, but it means I might do so less energetically – or at least with more consideration of my energy level – than I might in another season.

So, as much as I sometimes wish there was a way to “pause” time just for a little bit, my hope is to honor where I’m at and how I feel, take care of my obligations, and take small steps towards my goals. Right now, I have no specific deadlines; that may change tomorrow or another day soon. I will savor the stretches quiet time when I can, and find the quiet moments between things when life gets busier.

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The week without a smartphone, part 1.

I wrote this last Friday, June 22, 2018.

I’m at the apartment. We officially move tomorrow, so I am taking care of the odds and ends.

We turned in our modem for our apartment and exchanged it for one for the condo, our new home. My computer has no wireless connection here.

My phone is out of service, at least for the time being, because my water bottle leaked in my purse this morning. It is currently sitting in a bag of rice for the next two days or so.

I am disconnected from the internet entirely. I am out of contact, out of reach.

On one hand, it’s nice. There’s a certain quiet I feel when I don’t have internet access. It’s like I’ve shut off all outside voices, ones that are often incessantly on even when I’m physically alone – unless I choose to unplug.

This feeling of quiet definitely helps me regulate after being overstimulated by the morning’s events of taking stuff over to the condo, discovering my phone wouldn’t work, and the stress of moving in general. It’s a lot to take in. I really don’t need to add any more outside stimulation.

I don’t currently have any transcripts to proofread. I have an out-of-office reply on my business e-mail for the next two days.

Other than missing the ability to communicate with my spouse, I really don’t need to be connected. I can pack, clean, do laundry, read, do Nia – all without an internet connection.

Yes, there were days before smartphones, and the time before that I would text. But really, the last time I didn’t have access to instant phone communication of some sort (aside from a few camping trip) was before I graduated from college, before I got my first cell phone in 2005. Compared with many of my college classmates, I was a late cell phone adopter. I remember my ex complaining that she couldn’t reach me easily, that it was annoying and inconvenient to have to leave a message on my landline voicemail and wait until I returned to my dorm room to get the message. I remember the freedom of traveling abroad and being connected only when I went to an internet café or library.

On the other hand, I found myself almost immediately wanting to reach for my phone, to check something, to check anything. Messages? Social media? E-mail? Yelp? Sometimes it actually doesn’t seem to matter what as long as it’s there. Maybe that’s the addictive nature of social media and technology: once you have access, it’s hard to consciously choose to stop. Yes, there are definitely things that I need to check on and keep up with. But how many e-mails do I actually get that are relevant each day? A few. How many times do I need to check social media? Maybe once or twice, maybe more if I’m looking for an answer to a question in one of my proofreading groups. How many times do I need to check the news to stay informed? Maybe twice a day or so, although there’s part of me that balks at that. I don’t need to be informed all the time, but I like to know what’s going on.

I do feel cut off. And it’s nice and freeing and it’s a bit disorienting.

The daily news cycle lately has been even more distressing. While I think it’s important for me to know what’s going on locally, nationally, globally, I don’t think keeping up on every detail constantly is necessarily healthy. I end up feeling distressed, frustrated, somewhat hopeless. More information on how to donate or help in some way adds some purpose and relief. But it’s important to be mindful of how much information to take in, what to do with it, and when to take a break.

I am relieved that I can shut it off for a little bit. Yes, I could go to the condo or Starbucks if I needed to get access to the internet. But I have things to do here.  And I definitely need the time to just be here and do what I need to do. There are certainly fewer distractions this way.

And this is a good reminder that I can consciously choose to step away, to disconnect, and unplug. The internet, with all its benefits and disadvantages, will be there when I need it. For now, I’m enjoying the quiet.

2017.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s time for my year-end retrospective.

In 2017…

My love and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary and our tenth dating anniversary. We continue to grow and deepen our relationship. I love how can be silly and laugh together while also opening to new depths of connection.

I started teaching Nia classes in Las Vegas. After occasionally subbing and attempting to introduce Nia at a new space, I took over another Nia teacher’s classes in October. I now have a small group of regulars. While I miss my Albuquerque Nia community, I’m grateful to be teaching here…and to have space in my living room to dance!

Dancing, Studio Nia Santa Fe

I took the Moving to Heal training in Santa Fe. It’s comforting and gratifying to occasionally return to one of my Nia homes and connect with people who speak the language of Nia. I’m also really grateful for the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques — and new ways to look at what I already know. transcript proofreading

I completed an online transcript proofreading course. This course included lessons as well as 50 practice transcripts; it was a lot of work but worth the investment of time, energy, and money. I started my own proofreading business and am now contributing a small (but helpfully significant) amount to our household income. It’s been gratifying to make money again.

My husband and I started taking Tai Chi and Aikido classes with a local teacher who teaches informally, on a loose schedule without belts. It has really helped my spouse be more in his body. Sampling these martial arts forms has also improved my Nia practice: I’m much more aware of weight shifts, where I put my feet, and how to be in the flow of my own energy.

I experienced what it is like to live in a city that has had a mass shooting tragedy. It was scary and horrifying to wake up on October 2nd and realize what had happened. While I did not personally know or lose anyone who was at the Route 91 concert, I felt and witnessed the ripples of the tragedy. I also witnessed how the community came together in the aftermath, and continues to do so.

10.1.17

At the memorial garden downtown, October 2017

Trips: Visited Albuquerque in May, June, and November. Visiting my hometown and home state often helps ground me.

Albuquerque scene

Traveled with family up to the Durango, Colorado, area as part of the June trip.

 

Went to Sedona, Arizona, for our third annual holiday trip this December. It’s been so nice to have a relatively close place to travel for the holidays, especially one that is so beautiful and dynamic.

Locally:

Visited the Strip for the first time in January when my friends were in town. We went to the Bellagio.

Went on a day trip in February, visiting a goddess temple and labyrinth on the way.

Temple Labyrinth

Went to Mt. Charleston to see the changing leaves in September. We went to Valley of Fire State Park (about an hour outside of Vegas) when Luke’s friends from San Diego visited in December.

 

This place definitely feels more like home than it did a year ago. I have settled more into my life this year. I’ve met new people and started a new business. I continue to work towards creating a life that works for me, keeping my sensory and emotional needs in mind. Aside from stress about politics, finances, and the everyday kinds of challenges, I am generally content.

 

Odds and ends

 

Some odds and ends, thoughts and moments from this week:

*Sometimes the line between looking forward to something and dreading it is very thin for me. I have moments where I’m like, “I’m excited for this but I really wish it wasn’t happening today. How many hours do I have before I have to go do it?”

*After telling someone “I messaged them [photos] to you,” I realized that in today’s nuances of technological communication, ‘messaged’ could be interpreted as “Facebook message.” What I really meant was that I texted them to her.

*Sometimes, add another few moments of mindful meditation to my day can be really helpful. I generally do a few minutes in the morning; one day this week, I also took a few minutes in the afternoon. When I’m feeling anxious, reconnecting with my breath can be so important.

*I tend to forget that I enjoy woodworking and working with power tools. Granted, I don’t have the opportunity to do it much anymore. I volunteered yesterday at the YMCA as part of a city-wide volunteer event, and we were making playground equipment and a full-size Jenga set out of wood. And even though it was warm, it was nice to be outside, doing something physical, and creating something.

Magic

I heard this recently one of the owners of a local pagan shop/community center: “Magic is solving a problem without creating a new one.”

What is magic to you?

 

 

 

A post-election post.

I’ve been limiting my time on Facebook this week, which I started on Monday. I didn’t want a play-by-play commentary on returns, I was tired of people jumping on each other for both minor and major differences in belief. After the results came in, it was challenging for me to read because I was dismayed and disappointed at the results and it was heartbreaking to read about people’s reactions.

I continue to limit my time on Facebook. Throughout this election cycle and before, I’ve watched other people use it as a platform to state and share their political beliefs. I haven’t much – I prefer to keep my profile more personal, although the political and personal can overlap. Sometimes I am afraid I am not saying enough, or being too silent about issues I believe in and care about, but I also wonder if Facebook is the best place to discuss these kind of things. What if the discussions on Facebook prevent us from having in-person contact and conversations about these issues? I also recognize that frequent use Facebook can have a negative impact my emotional and mental health; I’m limiting my browsing time and what I share for my own piece of mind.

A bit about me: I identify as liberal, left of Democrat. I am pro-choice. I am a feminist. I am a white bisexual female from the Southwestern United States. I am a millennial. I am married, in a heterosexual partnership. I have a neurological condition that limits my ability to work a full-time job. I both have and lack privilege. I am concerned about what might happen with Trump as president. I am especially afraid how his administration may affect minorities. And at the same time, I don’t know what it will be like.

I’ve heard that hateful comments are coming from all sides. That some protests have turned violent. That there have been several instances where Muslim women have been attacked. This is all sad and disheartening.

I have also seen some people express the desire to understand how other people think and feel, and why they voted the way they did. I think we need more of these types of conversations. What I would ideally like to see in post-election dialogue:

For people to state their opinions without being accusatory of others’. I know it’s easy to react and respond without thinking, especially when emotions are high. Still, I would like there to be more respect. I would prefer that people say they disagree without accusing someone else of being wrong. I would like people to say they disagree with someone without attacking (whether verbally or physically) the other person and personally insulting them.

For people from both sides being willing to listen. We often surround ourselves with people who think like us. And while it’s good to have supportive communities, it’s important to understand why and how people think the way they do.

For people to distinguish feelings and opinions from facts.

For safe spaces for people to feel how they feel, and say or write what they think.

No violence, no hate speech.

While often cynical, I am an idealist at heart. I want to believe that it’s possible for people to share dialogue freely, without fear or danger.

Breaking free of the concept of normal

It’s hard for me to break free of the idea of normal.  As much as I know that there is no real setting or standard for normal. Perhaps there is a typical, a median, but not a normal in the sense of “this is the right way to be.”  Or as in, “Why are you doing that?  That’s not normal.”

I don’t consider myself typical in many ways, either.

Still, I measure myself against social standards, against my own high standards, and often fall short.  I have been the overachiever type, the perfectionist who tries and tries and succeeds.  However, I generally lose momentum and stamina eventually.  It’s not that my effort is wasted, exactly – I have had experiences where I have learned so much – but it’s exhausting.  I have worked hard.  And I have been striving at the cost of myself and my life force energy.

So far, I have burnt out five times in my adult life, to the point of feeling fatigued, ill, and/or depressed.  Last year was the worse, and a breaking point for me.

I don’t want to do this anymore.  Perhaps I am being cautious, but I fear that I will never be able to hold a “normal” shift-oriented job, at least not sustainably. In a culture where “What do you do?” comes after an initial introduction, I find it challenging to accept that I may need to find another way, at least for now, and maybe in the long term.  Knowing more about myself, in terms of sensory processing and mental health issues, has helped.  But still, the thoughts that I should be pursuing something else, something more, nag at me.

I am finding another way, I tell myself.  I am doing my art and jewelry and building up my business. It may not be that profitable right now.  I have time.  I have a small source of income, enough to cover my bills. I have a partner who supports me in finding and having a vocation that is supportive for me. I am currently living with a parent who is also supportive.  I am doing therapy and occupational therapy.  I am regularly doing Nia.  I am doing a lot, and I am doing things that will help me in the long term.

It’s challenging not to feel discouraged.  It’s challenging not to push myself.  I know that thinking in terms of “I can’t” and “never” aren’t helpful.  And it’s also important to be realistic:  it may be best for me to work and live in an environment I create for myself, or at least where I have autonomous control.  That may require creativity, supplemental education, and persistence.

I know the rabbit hole of rumination, doubt, and discouragement can lead to a much darker place.  I don’t want to return there. The idealist in me wants to believe.  The cynic in me says, “Hold on, wait. Look at this, evaluate it, see what’s practical and feasible.”

In the end, I don’t have to be normal or typical.  I am figuring out what it means to have my particular gifts and limitations.  I am learning how to advocate for myself.  I am building a life that makes sense for me.  I may need to remind myself of this again and again, and practice acceptance until it really sinks in.

Rachel S. Schneider of Coming to My Senses recently shared one of her articles – a letter to adults newly diagnosed with sensory processing disorder.  This line struck me:  “The power is in the cognitive shift from I am a disaster to I am unique, from I can’t handle anything to I can handle many things a certain way.”  

I am learning how to handle and do things my way.  I am learning to value myself for who I am, not who I strive to be – and that is what matters most.