I’m a little glad my mini-vacation is over. It was great to have the time off work, but it’s also great to be getting back into my weekly routine and seeing people I work with.
I worked from home yesterday, and that was great. I wasn’t ready to go back to the office, just yet. And I got some important things done in the quiet of my own home. I love the quiet of my own home. It’s very soothing for my jangled nerves. I can do a pretty decent job of jangling my nerves myself, so being in an environment that doesn’t make things worse… well, that’s a good thing.
I didn’t get as much exercise as I should have, though. I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of sleeping. And I did do a lot more exercise bike-riding, than usual (because I didn’t have to be anywhere, first thing in the morning). But I didn’t get up and move as much as I normally do, when I go in to the office.
This morning, I did my bike riding, and then I did more weight lifting that I usually do. I did 20 reps, instead of 10. And that felt good. It feels good to push myself. I haven’t done that, physically, for several weeks, and I can definitely feel it. I need that.
I need it to keep myself strong, physically and mentally. I need to the discipline, the dedication, the unwavering determination to take good care of myself, so I can rise to the challenges that confront me each day. Winter is coming. And I may have to do more physical work then – shoveling and such. I have to be in decent shape, so I don’t knock myself out. I also need to not get stiff and sore and locked into a certain physical position from sitting for hours and reading/writing. I need to break up my activities and take time to keep strong and fit.
I also need the exercise to keep my head clear. It’s been the number one factor in my accelerated recovery, I believe. Not everyone is the same, but I noticed a huge jump in my capabilities, when I was exercising regularly. And when I slacked off for about a year, because the migraines were bothering me, I noticed a decline in my mental capabilities.
Especially now, when I feel like we’re under constant ideological assault by the different political parties and vested interests, I need to be able to reason and think clearly, to be able to tell truth from lies and defend myself from people who are preying on me because they think I am weak. I also need to defend myself from well-meaning people who think that sheltering me or protecting me from my “diminished” state is the thing I need — rather than pushing myself to improve.
I saw a friend of mine yesterday who knows about my TBIs. They also seem to think less of me, because of the injuries. They say things like, “Don’t push yourself too hard” or “Make sure you don’t over-extend yourself.” They talk to me like I’m a bit dense. Huh. I guess they don’t realize that having a slower processing speed doesn’t mean I’m stupid. It just means I process information differently. I guess they also don’t understand that extending myself and pushing myself is what actually helps me get ahead in my life. It’s what helps me grow. It’s what helps me exceed the expectations of anyone and everyone around me.
I need to push myself. I need to over-extend myself. And then recover. Take the time to regroup, heal up, and then get back into the midst of things. I hate when people do that. It’s demeaning to me, even though I’m sure they mean well, and are only trying to help.
But for the record, it doesn’t help me. It just holds me back.
So, it’s back to pushing myself a little bit. Each day is a stretch for me, to be perfectly honest. It’s difficult, and it gets progressively more difficult over the course of the week. Mondays are not easy. Tuesdays are harder… Wednesdays take a little more out of me… Thursdays are like walking into a fog… and on to Friday is just one long exercise in wading through fog and confusion.
But as long as I rest up on the weekends, I can get myself in decent shape.
Of course, this is all dependent on me keeping myself physically active. The past week has been kind of a “test run” for me, in how I would live, if I didn’t have to go into the office every day. Or even if I didn’t have to go to work. True, I’ve got like 20 years before I’ll be in retirement age (they keep moving it back), but I need to think about how I’ll live my life, once I’m not going into an office every weekday. Plus, I might get a remote job at some point, where I won’t be required to go anywhere. How will I live? How will I take care of myself?
Clearly, I have to do some more thinking and planning around that. So, now’s a good time to start.
Anyway, the workday is upon me, and it’s time to get moving.
Like a lot of people in America – and the world at large – I’ve become increasingly concerned about what’s going on in Washington, right now. The “joker” who people either loved, or who didn’t take seriously, is putting people in power with a demonstrated track record of racism, discrimination, and attacking people who are not like them.
And I’m not okay with that.
Likewise, I’m not okay with the media downplaying the risk. Nor am I okay with the Washington politicians who are aiding and abetting this — or simply not standing in the way of these people who are shredding, piece by piece, even the faked appearance of human decency. Shouting “Hail Trump!” with Nazi salutes, quoting Nazis to justify their positions, and so blatantly aligning themselves with the ideology that killed millions up on millions of people in Europe, as well as worldwide. I just don’t understand how anyone in a position of influence in Washington can sit by and not throw themselves between these people and their constituents.
I don’t understand why more elected officials aren’t standing up and denouncing this direction we’re headed. And it is we who are headed there. It’s not just someone else. It’s all of us… getting dragged down by people who do not value the full range of human life, and who feel completely justified in making life so difficult for others.
I understand why people voted for Trump. But now that he’s showing his colors, I don’t understand why they continue to support him. People seem to think they’re immune, they’re safe. All his behavior and priorities won’t work against them, and so that’s okay. Except, at any time, in the most unexpected ways, any one of us can end up on the business end of his political cattle prod. Especially those of us with disabilities like brain injury, that happen as a result of chance or dumb luck… or just happen… and leave us vulnerable and living in constant fear for our lives.
I’ve been in that position for many years, now. I’m not sure I’ve never been in that position, to be honest. I’ve had hidden difficulties that I didn’t dare show to anyone. I’m anonymous on this blog for a reason — it’s often not safe to reveal to others that you have sustained a brain injury (or two or three… or nine, like me). That disqualifies you instantly from so much, simply because of people’s misconceptions.
And now it’s even worse, because it’s not just people’s perceptions and their personal sentiments that work against you. Very soon, unless that man is stopped, it can be public policy, as well.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to cover up my difficulties and “do the dance” of hiding my challenges and deficits. I’ve spent a lifetime refining my techniques, and they work. Most “regular” people never want to think you’ve got difficulties. They never want to even remotely suspect that there’s anything “wrong” with you. They want to think “the best” of you and not so much as imagine that you’re different from them. They don’t want to know that you have any particular needs. They don’t want to see that you “can’t keep up”, and if you fall behind, they either prod you to work harder, or they distance themselves from your vulnerability.
Especially now, when the disdain and disgust for anyone who is “less” than the Aryan ideal is an open target, from the very top, down. I’m going under deeper and deeper cover, as the days go by. And I’m not sure when it’s going to change.
Because now my faith is so eroded, I just don’t know who to trust, anymore. People I once counted as friends were willing to look past ignore and discount the bigotry and white supremacy of someone who aspired to take over the highest office in the United States of America. And they helped him in that bid. They decided to ignore the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised, the non-white, the disabled, the non-male… anyone who did not match the ideal held up by the neo-Nazis… it’s open season on them.
Of course, is it really any different, for many types of people? I’m thinking particularly of the protesters out in North Dakota who are protesting the threat to their water. The Native folks out there – indeed, all through this nation – have been on the receiving end of that kind of behavior for centuries. Indeed, anyone who was original to this land “got it” from the European settlers – whoever had the power, got to do whatever they wanted to everyone else.
And so it goes. Misery upon misery. Injustice upon injustice.
Where is there hope?
I believe there is hope in the small places of our lives. The times when all the distractions of the world fall away and leave us with a chance to come to life in the moment. When we help someone with a door that won’t open easily. When we help someone up, after they’ve fallen. When we take steps to help others in even the smallest ways. When we see others doing that, as well.
Ultimately, yes, I know – the rest of the world can be a terrible place, and people who abuse power… well, they abuse power. Takers take. Haters hate. And all around us, we see signs of fear running people’s lives. But there is hope. In the help we offer to others. In the help others offer to us. I’m not saying don’t call your representatives. DO call your reps in Washington. Prod them to do their jobs and discharge their duty to protect this nation from a fascist takeover. And at the same time, do what you can to assist others… as well as help yourself. Civilize your own world, one act, one decision… and another act at a time.
Most of all, don’t despair. There is always cause for hope.
Because the broken places are where the light gets in.
I’ve been getting up about the same time, sometimes earlier, and I’ve been going to work earlier, as well. That leaves less time for blogging. And it’s also been making me more tired. I went to bed before 10:00 last night, which was really good for me.
That change is partly my doing, partly because of meetings and conference calls I’ve had to attend. But that’s how things are shaping up. Also, summer’s over, and all my coworkers’ kids are back in school, so their routines are more pronounced. That carries over to mine, as well.
It’s not easy. I am so used to having each morning happen in a certain sequence, at a certain pace. But lately, I’ve been picking up the pace and pushing myself a little harder. It’s good for me. It’s unfamiliar, and that’s good for me, as well. It forces me to keep my act together — even with the little upheavals. No, especiallywith the little upheavals. Those throw me more than the big things. So, my life lately has been about handling the little changes that come my way, while keeping calm. And also apologizing when things aren’t going well.
I had a flat tire, last night when I left work. The right rear tire on my car has a slow leak that I’ve been topping off every week or so. I went a while without checking it, and sure enough, when I went out to my car to go home, I saw the vehicle was listing to the right. And the tire was too flat to drive on. No big deal, right? Just put the spare tire on, which I’ve done many times before. The thing is, one of the lug nuts on the spare requires a special wrench to get off, and I didn’t have that wrench. Supposedly it’s to keep the tire from being stolen, but I don’t live in an area where that’s a big problem. Argh! So frustrating.
I was pretty put out, because I had gotten off work earlier than usual, and I was intending to go home and work on some of my projects. As much as I hated to do it (I have my pride, after all), I called roadside service, and they said they’d show up in about an hour, which wasn’t bad. But it really put me out of sorts. I wanted to be at home, reading and writing and working on my stuff, not sitting around waiting for help.
Then I realized that I could be reading and working on my stuff while I waited for them. Plus, I wouldn’t be at home, where my spouse is under the weather and needs a lot of attention. So, that actually worked out pretty well. I got some good reading and writing done.
Then my spouse called and told me I needed to drive two towns over and pick up their antibiotics the doctor had prescribed. So, more time was lost to that… time I was really valuing and hoping to get. I got pretty irritable and snapped at them. Then I realized I was being an a**, and called them back to apologize. They need their medicine to get better. It’s important they take the antibiotics right now, so it doesn’t get hold of them.
Roadside service showed up, but they didn’t have the type of wrench I needed. We looked at the tire, and it actually was holding a bit of air, so they just topped me off to get where I was going. I’ll take my car to get serviced (and get a standard-issue lug nut put on that spare) this weekend. I can use my spouse’s car in the meantime – they’re sick, so they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
All these changes — big and small — are practice for me. I need to be able to hold myself together, to adjust to changes, to plan things, initiate doing them, and then follow through. It’s not just living life. It’s practice doing little things, so I can do better at big things. I’ve struggled to keep myself on track for so long. It’s very important to me, to get my act together and live up to my full potential, no matter what the circumstances. Especially when things don’t go the way I want them to.
I’m not a child. I need to act like the grownup I am, and if I’m not up to snuff, I need to get myself in line and figure out how to get myself up to snuff. Everybody falls short. I’m just not using my circumstances as an excuse.
So, that being said, it’s time to get myself in gear and go off to work. I’m getting mobilized about an hour and a half earlier than I normally do. I have an early meeting, and I’m driving to the office, rather than taking the call at home. It’s more work, and it’s not pleasant, but it’s necessary. Because the easier it is for me to do the hard things — through practice — the more fun it will be to do the easy things.
And who doesn’t like a bit of fun, every now and then….
It’s a PDF you can download and print out. It’s 17 different versions of the circles and bars and squares training I’ve been doing. From the introductory text:
This collection of geometric shapes is designed to help train memory and attention to detail.
How does it work?
First, you fold the paper into four sides – in half in one direction, and then in half in the other direction.
Then, you study the image for a while, committing it to memory as much as possible.
Then you put the image aside and go do something else – you can think about the image a lot, occasionally, or not at all. You just get on with your life.
After an hour, or several hours, or maybe a whole day, you draw what you think is an exact replica of the image on one of the blank sides of the paper.
Then, you open up the sheet, so you can see your image beside the original, and you study it to see where you got details wrong, as well as where you got things right.
You can write down notes about your observations of your memory – what you remembered, what you forgot – and if anything “jumps out at you” about your drawing.
Repeat this process again, drawing what you think is the right image on the other blank part of the paper. Then open up the sheet and compare what you drew with the original.
Writing down notes can be a good way to train yourself about the kinds of details you missed. Nobody’s perfect, and some of the images are trickier than they seem.
Also, the images on all the pages look enough like each other that, as you do this exercise each day, you may find yourself remembering things that you committed to memory from before. This is on purpose. It’s meant to test you, to get you to really focus in on the unique and original image in front of you – not something you saw before.
At first, it may be tricky. And you may find yourself noticing things or forgetting things that surprise you. Let yourself be surprised. Learn about your mind and how it works. And learn how to memorize, one day at a time.
This collection of sheets is meant to be printed out, and each one used separately. You can re-print sheets to re-try. You can also make modifications to the original images to make them your own. You can also color in the sections of the original image and work on your color memory, too. It’s up to you.
You can use this however you want – just use it. Get better. Be better. And have fun, while you’re at it.
I hope this helps you and you find it useful. Just after doing my memory training for a few days, I was able to remember three items on a shopping list I’d left at home that morning. There were three items on the list. And I remembered them all. I was able to recall them mainly because I was able to visualize the writing — I didn’t remember the things, as much as I remembered the look of the writing of the list. But either way, it’s good. And it was such an awesome feeling to be walking through the grocery store with my other list (which was pretty long) AND remember the three items on the little list I’d forgotten at home that morning.
Obviously, I can’t guarantee results for everybody else. We are all very different from each other, and I’m a very visual thinker. So, my results are going to be probably be different from someone who is a verbal thinker, or someone who needs audio prompt.
But my philosophy is that every little bit helps, and strengthening one part of your brain can — and will — strengthen other parts as well.
So, give these exercises a try. I’ve made it easy for myself — and others — to use this. It’s not cumbersome. You have a rectangle of paper you keep around for as long as you need it. And then when you’re done with it, you can either toss it in the recycling (please don’t just throw it away – recycle, please), or you can keep it in a folder to track your progress over time.
It’s funny – when I think about my test the other day, I never even realized that the two squares underneath the bar were supposed to be separated. I totally missed that, both when I was drawing, as well as when I was reviewing. It took me a day to realize that. And then it was so obvious! Duh! But that’s how it goes with me, sometimes. So, I’ve gotta cut myself a break. For sure.
I hope you find this tool useful. I will absolutely be making more. It’s fun! And it helps! What could be better, than making life better for everyone?
I had an inspiration, a few days ago, with regard to my memory testing and training. I think this will work.
See, I have a bit of a problem. I need to find a way to do these exercises without depending on my computer. I also need a way to do them that’s simple and clean and convenient. I would like to be able to re-test myself throughout the day – and do it in an easy and non-disruptive way. I need to put these designs on paper, and I need to work with them in a way that 1) gives me a chance to study them for a while, 2) have a clean slate to start with, 3) have a way to compare them side-by-side, 4) write notes about what I got right and what I got wrong, and 5) keep them for future reference, so I can look back on how I did, and how I’m improving.
My solution? Print them out on sheets of 8-1/2 x 11″ paper, with the image on one quarter of a sheet. Then I can fold up the sheet and carry it with me, to pull out and practice on, any time I like.
And then I can collect them in a standard-size folder, an archive, if you will.
So, that’s my plan. Put this all on paper, and work with it that way. I’ll still do it here, but I need more practice throughout the day, and I don’t have access to this blog at work.
I’m going to create a collection of these images in a document for myself — and others — to use. Stay tuned. It’s going to take a little while to get this going. But it’s definitely going. I know what to do, I know how to do it, and I’m highly motivated.
Watch this space for your own downloadable version.
Work has been such a challenge, lately. It’s just one mess-up after another (created by other people) that I and my team have to clean up. And also, my piece of things has been really flagging, as well.
I do know that I’ve contributed to this, in my own way. I was not as engaged as I should have been, early on. At the same time, nobody running the show ever explained to the whole team what the depth and scope of the whole project was, so I had literally no way of knowing just how far-reaching and pervasive the issues would be.
It’s a case of people managing the present situation, but not leading into the future. That’s where things fell down. There was no over-arching leadership.
Regardless of what the cause was, now we have to deal with the situation and make it right. Because a lot of people are being impacted by the snafus, and there are a lot of angry customers.
What’s required, under these conditions, is to keep a cool head, stay locked on the target(s) in front of me, and continue marching forward… without getting caught up in the drama. There’s too much drama. I haven’t heard back from my old company about my job application (I suspect they’ll take a pass, because I don’t have a college degree — I have 25+ years of solid experience in my field, and many different key positions, but I was unable to finish my degree for a number of reasons). The company before was fine with me trading on my experience, but now the management is different — very European, which is very focused on higher education (because in many cases, it’s basically free there) — so my lack of a degree may work against me.
Well, whatever. I’ll just keep slogging, one day at a time, and keep looking around, on and off. I’ve got an updated resume, so that’s a big plus. I also have my many different projects to keep me busy. So, I’ll channel my frustrations into them, and also work at keeping a level head, keeping my system from going haywire. That, alone, will pay off.
It’s all a process. And I can get set back at any time, if I let myself “drift”. Brain injury recovery doesn’t just happen and then stop, when “you get there”. It’s an ongoing thing, just like life. And I have to keep reminding myself that I need to keep retraining my brain to handle these novel situations. Because the way I think has changed. The way I am has changed. The way I adapt has changed. So, I need to adapt to my adaptations.
Well, it keeps me on my toes.
OK, here’s my attempt at the image:
Okay, not too bad. I got the general orientation right, but I’m missing some circles – the white one at the top center, and another black one at the bottom triangle. I also extended the angled line on the right beyond where it should be. And I reversed the black and white circles at the top. Overall, I have to say it’s not that bad. I’ll try again later today, to see how I did.
Yesterday was a tough day. I was booked all morning, noon, and evening. I had to pace myself, because I was going from 6:30 a.m. till 8:30 p.m. I had to be ON the entire time… and I had to get my spouse to a couple of appointments. Doing my own thing was pretty smooth, but it was extremely difficult going, pretty much the entire time we were together.
First off, my spouse was late. We had to leave promptly at 12:45 to make it to the dentist in time without speeding or cutting it close. I had to lead two meetings at the office, first thing in the morning, so I couldn’t be at home to get them out of bed in time. They assured me that they’d be ready when I got home, but when I got there a little after 12, they were still in the shower. They’d just gotten up. And then they were in the shower for something like 20 minutes. So, by the time they got downstairs, it was already 12:40, and they had to collect all their stuff, put on their shoes (which I have to help them do), and I had to make them something to eat, which took a little time, as well.
So, we didn’t actually get on the road till 1:00, which put a lot of pressure on me.
They have been really bad about getting to the dentist, over the years. They’ve lost a tooth, had to have multiple root canals, they have ongoing trouble with plaque buildup, which pushes their teeth apart and causes their gums to recede. It’s not good. Their one saving grace is that they have very, very long roots to their teeth, so they’ve only lost one tooth in the process (towards the back, where you can’t see it). It’s like dragging a heavy wagon through mud in a pouring-down rainstorm, trying to get them to the dentist, and while yesterday was a bit less dramatic than usual, it was still a challenge.
I’ve been working really long hours, so I was already taxed. And I was fuzzy, foggy, not thinking properly — generally bumfuzzled. My spouse doesn’t take kindly to me when I’m in that state, and it didn’t take long for them to start yelling at me about doing this wrong, doing that wrong, etc. It certainly didn’t help that I nearly rear-ended a car that stopped short in front of me. That was close. But it didn’t happen. And the rest of the ride to the dentist (who’s located in a nearby city, about an hour away), was pretty challenging.
I’ve been more sensitive to pretty much everything – lights, noise, the feel of textures… and that puts me on edge. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve had a low-grade headache for days. We did get to the dentist on time, but I was in a daze the whole time, and it was pretty miserable for me. I made a wrong turn, which became a Major Deal — rather than getting back on track and just getting where we were going, I was reminded again and again about what I was doing wrong. And my spouse was ordering me to do things that just didn’t make any sense. We were both off-base, but they were absolutely convinced they were right.
So, the dentist happened. And that was fine. I got a chipped tooth fixed, as well as a filling replaced. After that, we had to rush to the post office to pick up a package. Then I had to get on a conference call with my team at work, to find out what’s happening with our jobs. Basically, there’s a new direction for our team, but it’s going to take a couple of years to get sorted out. I haven’t heard from my old company about the resume I submitted, and I’m up in the air about that – on the one hand, it would be great to work with everyone there again… on the other hand, there were significant challenges that took a pretty big toll.
I’m fine with what happens, either way. At my current employer, the role they have me in is pretty constrained, and I don’t have the opportunity to contribute as much from my full range of experience… as well as use that to grow — and earn — more. But it is what I make it, so I just have to make more of it, than I have been.
For the conference call, I had to drive while I was listening to the call, because my spouse had to be at another appointment for physical therapy. They haven’t been doing great with regard to their PT. They feel uncomfortable, so they just sit around (or sleep) and then their symptoms get worse. I get pretty frustrated with all that, because I’m in almost constant pain, myself, and I don’t have the leisure to lie around — because my spouse does so much of it. It’s pretty irritating, hearing them complain about how awful they have it and how they need to take it easy, when I’m in the same boat, and if I take it easy, we don’t eat… or have a place to live.
Anyway, the drive to the PT session was an even more pungent steaming pile of doo-doo, because traffic was bad, and my spouse kept demanding that we take “the back way” as if that would solve everything. But the “back way” was twice as far, and all we had to do was stay steady in traffic and just get there. It’s bad enough when conditions are challenging, but when you’ve got someone sitting beside you constantly berating you and distracting you, it’s even worse.
I dropped them off at their session, then drove to a far end of the parking lot to chill out, decompress, and check my work email.
It was a much-needed break, because I had to get back home and get ready for a town meeting scheduled at 7. I’m on a town board that has intermittent meetings, and wouldn’t you know, it happened on one of the busiest days I’ve had in a long, long time. Of course it did. That’s how it usually goes, right?
Anyway, the board meeting went fine, and I got back home about 8:00. My spouse had gone out to pick up dinner, and they said they’d be back by the time I got home. But they were nowhere to be found. They called a little after 8 and said they’d be home shortly. But a good 30 minutes passed, and we actually didn’t eat dinner till 9:00, which totally screwed up my sleeping. Going to sleep on a full stomach is not a great thing, but I had no other choice.
No, I did have a choice. I could have just eaten half my sub and saved the rest for the next day.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Well, I slept, but I woke up after 6-1/2 hours, which is not good. I need 8 hours to function. So, now I’m going into another day with hours less sleep than I should be getting. This weekend, I hope to have some downtime. I have to help my spouse with an event this weekend — driving them to places they need to reach. I don’t trust them to drive on their own. They don’t do well, driving at night, and their judgment is not good. It’s not safe. It’s rapidly becoming less and less safe for them to drive, so I have to figure out a better way, than constantly either worrying about them, or doing the driving, myself. I have my own limits, and I have to take care of myself. This past time has not been helpful at all, and I see that I need to be smarter and more proactive about how I manage my time and energy.
I need to be able to look ahead, realistically estimate the level of effort required, and then plan ahead for when things are going to get tricky.
I am in a better position to pay someone to help out. And since I don’t need constant help, it would only be a couple times a month, probably. So, I could actually hire someone to help out. I’m starting to look around for that, now. I’ve got some ideas — and I’m pretty clear about when it needs to happen, so I can start laying the groundwork for it.
Speaking of groundwork, I need to get my own act in gear. I need to find a new doctor. My old doctor died, a little over a year ago, and now their office is pressuring me to keep being their patient — even though I really dislike the doctor who’s in charge, and we’ve had some heated “discussions” that left me feeling really disrespected and expected to just bow down and comply with everything the doctor was telling me to do.
I’m not going back there again. I need to find a better situation, for sure.
So, I’ll do that. I need to get my act in gear, in that regard. It all keeps coming at me… pretty fast, actually. And I need to step up.
I got a good night’s rest, last night. Not as much sleep as I was hoping to get, but at least it was something. I’ll take a nap later today, when I am done with my volunteering… before I start the next “leg” of my day’s activity.
Life is filling up again for me, and in a good way. For a long time, my weekends were all about serious downtime – I am pretty much done by the end of the week, and Thursdays and Fridays are often a “wash” for me, as I muddle through the final 48 hours of exhaustion before my weekend.
But this weekend, I’ve got a lot going on – especially with the house. My spouse and I walked through our downstairs, yesterday evening, and figure out what we want to do with all stuff we’ve accumulated over the past couple of years. We both have executive functioning issues, having trouble with initiating activities, figuring out next steps, and following through. So, we end up with a lot of stuff stacked in piles, waiting for us to figure out what we’re going to do with it.
We’re not dirty. Just disorganized. And last night, we started doing something about it. We figured out what we need to do with the living room, so we can actually sit in that room again and read quietly in peace. It’s the quietest room in the house, and perhaps the most comfortable, but it’s not where the computer and the t.v. are, so we don’t spend much time there.
We also figured out what to do with the dining room. We don’t actually use it for dining, much — we eat in the kitchen or in front of the t.v. at night — and we haven’t had company over for months and months (maybe years). So, we rarely use it, except for like right now, when I’m sitting down to write and drink my morning coffee. It’s become the place where I work while I’m waiting for supper to cook. I can hear it, if the food on the stove starts to boil over, and I can get to it much quicker than upstairs. My spouse used to keep an ear out for any spills on the stove, while working in the next room, but they’ve not been able to do that as well, in the past couple of years, so now I write and work in the dining room, while they’re working in the great room next to the kitchen.
Also, that great room — the one with the nice view of the western sunset and the fireplace, which is our sanctuary, the main place we “live” in the house — that’s slated for some changes. We have been talking about doing things with that room for quite some time, but we never seem to get moving on it. Well, now we are. We’ve got a plan. And today after I volunteer, I’ll be stopping by the local home improvement center to pick up some containers to store our stuff… and move it out of our living space.
I also need to move some stuff we’ve been storing in the dining room to where it really should be — the attic, as well as the garage. I did a massive re-org of the basement, a little over a year ago, which helps, and now it needs to continue as Phase II. Or III. Or whatever number we’re up to, by now. There’s stuff I can also move from the basement to the attic. The attic gets cold in winter and hot in the summer, so whatever I put there has to weather those elements. I’ve got some stuff I can move there.
I’m also considering getting rid of that old bicycle I have in the basement. It’s not a very good one. It has a wobbly wheel, and it might not actually be that safe to ride. It’s also a three-speed, and you can probably guess how that goes, when I’m out riding up and down hills on that thing. I may keep it around, because it reminds me of my Dad’s old bike, and it also harks back to days gone by when our needs were so much simpler.
I just need to move it somewhere that makes more sense. Maybe get some of those hooks and hang it from the rafters in the basement.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I’m feeling a whole lot better now than I was yesterday.
Just getting moving and doing something useful with myself — getting active, breaking up the rut I can fall into — and not getting so stuck in my head… that seems to be the key with me. Just taking action. And also getting my spouse in on the action. We both need to keep active and engaged, and we both need to live in a house that’s comfortable. I work so hard, each and every day, to keep this house and have a good life here. Why not make the most of it?
I lucked out, this morning, as I was surfing the web while riding my exercise bike. I stumbled upon some Marcus Aurelius quotes, which always bring me back to my senses. I have always really liked his “Meditations” – which you can read for free here at Project Gutenberg. Some of his language is hard to decipher, but there’s enough good in there, that it makes it worth it to sort through.
Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic Roman Emperor – and Stocism is about being able to be truly happy, when all the rest of the world is falling down around your ears. It’s not about “sucking it up” and squelching all your unhappiness down inside you, but rather getting used to life sucking big-time and being happy in spite of it. Regardless. Recognizing the pain and discomfort and difficulty, but not letting it wreck your life. That’s my kind of philosophy.
I’ve always been a Stoic, at heart — from when I was a kid, training myself to not cry or show emotion or get caught up in feeling sorry for myself, when I got hurt. In many ways, that worked against me, especially because it kept others from seeing my difficulties, so I couldn’t get any help. But my shortcomings in how I practiced Stoicism were because I was a kid, and I had a child’s understanding of it.
Now I have an adult’s understanding, and with everything happening around me, lately, it’s important that I use that understanding again. I have come back to Stoicism, time and again, but I always seem to lose track of it… just forget about it. I lose track of things, if they aren’t right in front of me, and that’s a problem. So, I think what I’ll do is actually make a little booklet of them and carry them with me to read. I can do that by saving a document as a PDF and then printing it out. Or, I might just pick a quote to think about for a day or a week, or longer. I have quotes saved to my desktop, so I can look at them anytime.
I really need to get more down-to-earth, as well as not let things bother me, so the words of a long-gone Stoic seem about right to me. I think they can be helpful for others, too, so I’ll write more about Stoicism here, in hopes it will help others be happy, no matter what’s going on.
A lot’s going on in the world that’s just awful. Terrible. Painful. Small children being killed, each and every day, in a war that makes no sense to me. Some wars make sense, but the whole Syria thing… I just don’t know. Anyway, I don’t want to get political here, just say that I see the pain and the suffering, and I wish – how I wish – it would stop.
In the meantime, I can take care of my own state of mind and not let myself be hobbled by all that other stuff. I’m not turning a blind eye to it. Far from it. I’m just also taking care of myself, in the process. And being happy, despite everything falling down around me and being excruciatingly painful, is the kind of skill I need to develop. Because things aren’t going to get any easier, anytime soon.