#Brain training test results – 10-20-16

Here are the results of my testing yesterday. I got my test sheet and folded it in fours, then I studied the image below, committing it to memory. I traced the lines with my finger, and I also stood with my shoulders wide and my hands on my hips, to have a kind of physical memory of it, because it looks almost like a robot standing with its hands on its hips. I tried to take my time, but I was distracted by my busy day ahead.

Starting Image

I noticed when I was starting out, I was a bit impatient. I was tired (still am), and I was running behind schedule. So, I felt very antsy while I was studying the image

About four hours passed until I did my first attempt at recollecting.

First Attempt

I did pretty well, getting the lines and all the pieces correct. However, I was a bit rushed, and the proportions were not correct. The top bar was too “chunky” (even though I remembered that the bar doesn’t go the whole way across). And I remembered the location of the circles in the middle. But I crowded them, and the bottom squares are too small. For some reason, I start out big, then I get smaller. I get nervous. I get rushed. And it shows.

At the end of the day, I took another shot:

Second Attempt

I was clearly tired and rushed — I started drawing the bottom squares too quickly and forgot that I needed to leave room for the circles. Then I caught myself and course-corrected. The bottom squares are still too small, proportionately speaking. And the right one is smaller than the left. When I’m tired and nervous, I draw smaller. And I was rushed. I didn’t take my time — I think because I was nervous about possibly forgetting what I had in my mind.

So, what does this teach me?

Mainly, that I need to come up with a more effective technique for remembering things and keeping them in mind. I also need to relax and not rush. Because that gets me in trouble. It might not seem like that big of a deal here — it’s just a drawing — but that generalizes to other parts of my life that I really need to keep clear and steady. The skills I build while doing this can come in handy in other ways.

Here you go – downloadable memory training/tests you can use over and over.

Well, that took less time than I expected

I’ve collected 17 similar images for memory training into a single document. Here it is: Memory Training with Circles, Squares and Lines

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.

fold the paper twice, in directions, then use the blank spaces and also the notes
Here’s how to fold the memory test sheets

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?

Here’s the PDF download link again: Memory Training with Circles, Squares and Lines

Eureka! Here’s the memory testing plan…

collection of circles and squares and lines for memory testing
Here’s my test for today

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.

Okay, let’s see how well I remembered the image:

three circles above a two-layer bar, with two squares underneath with diagonal lines crossing from inner top to outer bottom corners. The line on the right ends 3/4 way to the bottom right, and it ends in a "t"
The results of my test – not bad, if I say so myself. Aside from some proportion things, it’s just about exactly right.

Back to work – taking it as it comes

memory training image - circles and lines and squares and triangles
Study this image for a few minutes, then read the post below… and then draw it afterwards.

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.

Oh, well.

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:

memory test - circles and lines and squares and triangles
Results of my memory test – pretty good, I have to say.

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.

Additional test for today – and every day


Here’s a shape I’m going to study for a while… then write a post… and then see if I can replicate it from memory. I’ve found that this helps me really improve my ability to notice details and also remember things. I used to do it a lot. Then I got distracted by other things, and I stopped. I think I’ll start again. Like… now.

In the midst of just going about my life, I’ve gotten to a point where a lot of things I used to really struggle with, have now become rote. I’ve put a ton of energy into developing routines and also getting the discipline together to follow them.

And now I need to shake things up a little bit.

This past weekend was such a shaking-up time. I spent a day and a half going at top speed, helping my spouse with an out-of-town event. Originally, they were going to have friends help, then that fell through.

Rather than leaving them to their own defenses, I agreed to go along, drive the long hours, and help them with prep and wrapping up after the event. I’m actually glad I went, because it got me out of the house and it got me out of my rut. Now, I’m exhausted and I had to take the day off work to recover, but I’m still feeling pretty good, overall. And it was a good exercise for me — good training to work on my composure and ability to plan and follow-through.

I do need to work on a number of things:

  • My memory, which I’ve gotten a little complacent about. I’ve gotten used to forgetting things and then scrambling to make up the difference. I’d like to do better about remembering, to begin with.
  • My planning, which I’ve gotten lax about. I like to “go with the flow” at times, but that tends to get me in trouble, and I lose track of what I’m doing.
  • My follow-through, which doesn’t always happen… thus screwing up the plans I had made, in the first place.
  • Keeping things clean and tidy. It’s not that I’m dirty — I just let things get a little disorganized at times, and that makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. I’d like to simplify my life, which means I need to tidy up more often. So I don’t need to expend energy figuring out what’s where, and how I can find it.
  • Simplifying things by just saying “no”. I expend an awful lot of time deciding between competing priorities. I used to have a “never gonna happen” list, and I put a whole bunch of projects on it. But I still need to do more pruning, and not get pulled off-track by different ideas and intriguing pastimes. I need to just turn down offers from folks who want to collaborate, and stick with My Main Activity, till that’s done.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty positive about my life and the changes I’ve made over the years. Now it’s time to bump it up a notch. I need to test myself more than I have been. I feel as though the rest of my life has taken off without me, and I’m riding in a wagon with a team of galloping horses. I’d like to have a better handle on the reins, if that’s how it’s going to be.

I also need to spend a lot more time thinking about what I’ve done right, after I’ve done it, than get bogged down in the things I want to do better… eventually… whenever I get around to it. I tend to get so caught up in making lists, that I lose sight of actually just doing the items on the list. So, I need to focus on the completion of items, and thinking about them after the fact, rather than planning ahead and getting myself all psyched up … that tires me out. And then I have no energy to just get everything done.

Okay, now for my attempt at recreating that image…


Mostly, it’s right. I’m feeling pretty positive about it. The places where I messed up, are with the direction of the “flag” on the left, as well as the sizes of the circles, relative to the lengths of the lines. The circles need to be a little bigger. I often seem to under-size the circles, for some reason.

All in all, though – it’s a good “go”.

Back to bed…

submarine submerging
Time to submerge again…

I had an incredibly challenging weekend.

Constant activity. Non-stop. And not nearly enough rest.

I got back around midnight, last night, and I knew I’d be worn out this morning. So, I planned ahead to take the morning off work. Sure enough, I’m dizzy and sick, and not feeling well at all.

So, since I can, I’m going back to bed.

Recover. Rest. Recuperate.

I’ll see what the day brings when I “resurface”.


Riding the waves… as they come

ocean waves crashing on each other
It’s not going to get any less “exciting” anytime soon.

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.

So, I shall.


A few positive steps, some Marcus Aurelius quotes, and I’m good to go

"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts" - Marcus Aurelius
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts” – Marcus Aurelius

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.

Ah, well.


Good to be back to my routine

clock on the side of a building with skyscrapers in the background
Keeping on schedule makes my life manageable

It’s good to be back to my regular life. As much as I like vacations (especially ones that involve nice weather and the beach), I really love my daily routine. It centers and grounds me, and it keeps me sharp… because I don’t have to figure everything out as I go along.

It’s predictable. It’s familiar. I can do it (metaphorically) with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. I complain sometimes about feeling so trapped in my routine and daily rut, but it’s actually the thing that keeps me stable and chilled out.

My vacation was actually pretty stressful, in some ways. I wasn’t on my usual schedule of getting up, riding the exercise bike, eating my scrambled egg, then settling down with my coffee and banana to blog or read or chat online with friends there. There was no getting ready for work, driving down the road and thinking about things or listening to music, and then spending a day in my cubicle working on data “stuff”. It was more “free-flowing”, with my spouse not feeling very well and needing some sort of attention on a regular basis.

I had hoped to spend some quality time thinking and working on some of my projects, but that didn’t happen. My spouse was not only sick, but also very anxious. About everything. And that put us both on edge. I got pretty resentful at times, especially when I was interrupted in mid-thought. But I kept it together and did not snap out more than a few times.

I did break down in private, mid-way through the week. I just felt like I couldn’t take it anymore — the constant barrage of needs and demands and having to jump up and change gears at a moment’s notice. I was really, really tired, and I wasn’t getting enough sleep. It’s hard for me to sleep in other people’s beds, in rooms without blackout curtains. I had a sleep mask and earplugs, but it wasn’t the same. And it was either too hot or too cold in my bedroom, so that was hard, too.

Still and all, it was a good break. And it taught me a lot about myself, as well. I need to take really good care of myself, especially as I’m caretaking for a spouse who’s declining in terms of cognition and behavior. They’re getting on in years, and it’s finally catching up with them. We’re a generation apart, actually — and up until the past few years, it’s worked in our favor. I’ve always been attracted to older partners, and I’ve always been mature for my age, so it’s never been a problem. But when your partner starts to get “up there” in years… starting to seem downright elderly… and you’re just entering your real prime of life, well, that’s a complicated path to tread.

It’s a management issue, really. I need to manage myself more effectively and do a better job with my own self-care. It’s like I’m a vehicle pulling a very large wagon, and I need to keep my engine tuned and my gas tank filled, so I can do a decent job at this caretaking business.

Because it’s not going to get any easier for me — or for my spouse.

And the task at hand is for me to keep my act together, so we don’t both suffer. When I don’t keep my act together — don’t get enough rest, don’t eat right, don’t exercise, don’t manage my emotional state, don’t manage my behavior — and I just let everything go, because I’m tired of dealing with it, that’s not good. It makes everything worse for everyone involved. And then I need to pick up the pieces and patch things back together again.

If I can.

Some people have told me I need to cut my spouse loose. They told me that, back in 2007, when they were first having a big set of neurological problems. They told me I needed to leave. Get on with my life.  Put them in a home (?!). Not let their situation hold me back.

Needless to say, I did not do any of that. And I was really offended that they would suggest that as an option. As if I were the sort of person who just gives up on other people. I don’t. Especially my spouse, whom I love with all my heart, and is every bit as much a part of my life as my arms or legs or brain.

I’m not giving up. It’s not going to be easy, and none of us will get out of this alive. But for the time being, I’m sticking with it, hanging in there. and I’m putting the focus on taking care of myself, so I can do the best job possible as protector and provider for the amazing, beautiful life we have together.

That’s that. End of discussion.

Which means I need to take care of myself with routine, schedule, and doing as much as I can to keep my foundation stable. Life will throw what it will at us. It’s our choice, what we do with it. And I choose to move forward to the best of my God-given ability.


Step by step… putting things in order

files and papers stacked in two columns
This is much more organized than I am … or may ever be

I had a full and busy weekend. There was a bunch of stuff I had to do for work on Saturday, since I was out all last week. And yesterday was about just getting myself back in the swing of things. Cleaning up, organizing, putting stuff back where it belongs. And getting some rest.

I got a good nap in the afternoon, and I also got a lot handled for some of my projects I’m working on. I also caught up on my correspondence – I still need to call my parents back, though. They called before I was leaving to go out of town, and I didn’t feel comfortable calling them, because they had wanted to go on a week-long vacation with me and my spouse, and we told them, “NO” because I didn’t have any extra vacation time… because we were already taking a week on our own. My parents get jealous and hurt, so rather than let them down (or lie to them, which is extremely difficult for me), I just didn’t call them back.

I’ll need to do that sometime this week. And talk about fall house repairs. Because that’s what I’m up to, these days.

I feel pretty good about the few things I did on Sunday morning. I cleaned a little bit, and I reorganized a room we use for storing stuff my spouse uses for their business. I also did some research on storage units, and I found a facility that’s a few miles from my home that has some good deals. I need to stop by their location on my way to work, sometime this week, and check out what they’ve got.

I also need to organize my workspace in my own study. It looks like a bomb went off. But it’s a happy, creative bomb. Still, I need to move things around and make a larger space for myself to move. I have trouble remembering that things exist, if I don’t see them in front of me, so there’s always the danger of losing track of important ideas because they’re hidden from view after I organize. I need to figure out how to handle that.

This is all a process, of course… A big, long process that never actually ends. The good thing is, it’s very satisfying for me, so I don’t mind it terribly. It’s just a constant thing, that I need to keep up with.

But when I do keep up with it, it feels great! So, that’s what I’ll do. Simply keep at it, steady on…

Steadily… onward…