So, I don’t really HAVE to do it the hard way?

accounting-calculatorI’m going to finish my taxes today. I got them 1/4-way done yesterday — all my own income and business expenses have been tallied up and accounted for. Now I need to pull in my spouse’s numbers, and that will be a bigger task, since they are self-employed, and they have a lot going on.

Fortunately, this year, we did the smart thing and split up the work, so I only did the bank-numbers-collecting, and the tax software forms-filling-out, and they took care of tallying up all the checks and the items that I couldn’t make sense of. So, it actually worked out well. And they produced two pieces of paper that have neat calculations on them, rather than 10 sheets of paper with a thousand individual items listed.

It’s progress — real progress. And it tells me my spouse is actually doing much better, neurologically, than they’ve been in a number of years.

In past years, I explained what I needed, and they didn’t understand. They just didn’t get it. No matter how I phrased it, no matter how many times I repeated myself, they just didn’t get what I needed, and they went ahead and did what they wanted to do, anyway… which made my life extremely difficult at this time of year.

Now they’ve gotten their system down, and they did it in the space of a day, rather than dragging it out for weeks on end. That’s huge progress, too. They’re more focused, more cognitively streamlined, more motivated.

And it’s all good.

So, today I finish off the work. I do this every year, so now it’s very familiar to me. And that’s a great thing, because each year, I get all tangled up in anxiety about going through this process, and I become convinced that I won’t understand it, or I’ll get confused, or I’ll get turned around. Doing my taxes used to be a fairly straightforward thing, before I had several businesses to account for. Once upon a time, I could do my taxes in the space of a few hours in the afternoon. But when both my spouse and I got our businesses going, things got very complicated — it would take me weeks to get it all done. And ironically, our businesses really took off and got way more complex during the early years of my TBI recovery — after 2004.

Doing taxes turned into a huge undertaking. I would collect all the data and sort it and categorize it and compile it into several different spreadsheets, and then sort it again. I’d have to re-assign numbers that I did wrong, because they really belonged with one business, not the other. And I sometimes wasn’t sure if I’d done it all correctly, which was a massive source of stress for me.

This year has been different, however.

As it turns out, my own thinking is much, much clearer now than in the past. I got a first inkling with that, when I was exporting all my banking information to sort and plug in. I’ve always been extremely thorough, sorting and categorizing everything, from start to finish, following dates. I got so caught up in it, in fact, that I had intended to collect all the numbers on a quarterly basis and sort through them, so that at tax time, I could just plug them in.

Of course, that never happened. I did it last April, after I’d finished my 2014 taxes, and just the exercise of sorting the numbers of three different bank accounts in multiple formats was too much for me. Hundreds and hundreds of transactions, large and small. How could I keep up with it?

Answer: I couldn’t.

So, I abandoned the exercise, and I was feeling bad about myself, when I went back to my 2015 taxes directory on my computer and saw the failed attempt from last year.Then, it occurred to me yesterday, that that exercise was actually a total waste of time. I didn’t have to collect and sort every single transaction. I didn’t have to categorize every trip to the grocery store, barber, and fast food joint. I could just cut them all out, up front, and only categorize the numbers that actually applied to our businesses.

It seems so simple now, but this was an epiphany for me. Rather than biting off a massive chunk of work, I could work with only the most necessary pieces, and concentrate on them — and pretty much disregard everything else.

So, I did that yesterday evening, and what used to take me days, took me a couple of hours, max. And that’s a good thing, indeed.

I should be able to get our taxes all squared away in a matter of hours, really. And that’s fantastic. Because I can keep doing this new and improved approach each year. The progress continues. Even if it’s the sort of thing that should have been totally obvious to me… it wasn’t. I got so mired in the details, I couldn’t see the easy way of doing things.

Now I can see it, though. I’ll have to make a note for myself to do this again next year.

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Everything that makes up the day

It’s not always clear

Today’s Fog Factor: 70% “with it”

Well, I’m glad I had a nap yesterday. I got a little less than 7 hours of sleep last night, but I got right up, a little after 6 a.m. I really wanted to get into the day — get my exercise, eat my breakfast, and get some writing done before I get into my full-time packing.

I started to get a headache when I was riding the exercise bike, and now my head hurts. I am supposed to get headache specialist info from my neuropsych, but they never got back to me, even though they promised. This isn’t the first time they’ve forgotten about me. Ah well, I may be better off taking care of things myself. I would like to see a neurologist or someone who can tell me if it’s a structural issue with my brain, or if it’s more about my neck and my stress level. I start to get a headache when my spouse is going on and on about some drama at work, so I’m guessing that it’s a stress thing — at least in part.

I guess I need to get back to my meditation exercises again — just training myself to keep calm in the face of whatever comes my way. Things at work have been intense, and that’s not helping. I need to improve my skills at handling what comes down the pike – no matter what that may be.

I did a little bit of writing and reading, this morning, and I’m about ready to start packing my bags for the trip. I need to collect my clothing, do some laundry, and get my pieces all squared away. I have a list of things to do and take care of.

I’ve got about 7 hours before I need to leave for the airport. I have to check in when I get there – I can’t check in online, unfortunately, which puts a real crimp in my plans today. I need to give myself an extra 30-45 minutes, so I’ll need to leave the house earlier than planned. I need to review my list of everything that needs to be done, so I don’t miss anything.

With any luck, this will be my last trip in a while. They are cutting down on travel at work, so that could relieve me of the constant pressure to get ready to go away, and then recover from coming back. What a waste of my precious — and very limited — energy.

I really just want to devote as much time as I can to my own projects and not have my job take over my life, as it has in the past. It’s bad enough that it already consumes so much of my time and renders many other hours pretty much useless to me — because I’m so tired.

I’m making the best of things, of course. I’ve given up fighting it, and now I’m just going to get into my day and live it as fully as possible, whatever comes down the pike. Whatever the day brings, I need to be fully involved in it – not just up in my head, and not standing at a distance. But in it.

This is really the thing that saves me in my TBI recovery — being involved in my life – up close and personal – and not letting setbacks keep me from making progress. There is so much that is a lot more difficult for me, than I’d like, and I really hate my life, some days. I think back on how things used to be, and everything now just feels so strange and foreign. Things used to feel like they flowed. I had what I thought was a very fulfilling life, with hobbies and pastimes that really gave me a sense of belonging. Then I got hurt, and everything changed, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy — at least feeling like there’s some semblance of normalcy — has been a daily challenge.

Now, though, it’s feeling more “normal” to me, and I’m finding my way back to things that used to be part of my everyday life. Reading. Writing. Being active in my community and having friendships to fall back on. TBI can be so very alienating, because of the personality changes — people who used to like you for who you were, no longer have that same person to like. So naturally a lot of them move on, because you’ve almost broken a promise to them about being the kind of person you are “supposed” to be.

Also, your tolerance for the way certain people are can change a great deal. I noticed that in my own life, a lot of the “endearing” characteristics of other people, which I could accept and gloss over, became glaring points of conflict with me. And I became a lot less tolerant of other people’s flaws and foibles, so I couldn’t bear to spend waste more time with them.

As an example, I used to hang out with a lot of people who had a real victim mentality — like all the world was against them, and they had to constantly struggle against the dominant paradigm to just break even in their lives. I used to hang out with a LOT of escape artists — devotees of role-playing games, computer games, renaissance faires, comic books, and other alternative culture types. That was my world — all full of arts and music and imagination. But it became pretty apparent to me, after I got deeper into my TBI recovery, that so much of that was a convenient way to avoid dealing with harsh truths about oneself, instead of taking action to make right the things that were all wrong.

And I realized, too, that so much of the world that my friends thought was out to get them or designed to make their lives miserable, was a result of how they were thinking about those circumstances. They kept telling themselves that “the mainstream world” was designed to destroy them, and they were in a constant state of conflict and antagonism. So, small wonder that they couldn’t get ahead in life. They came across as angry and aggressive with everyone who wasn’t just like them, and they boxed themselves into a version of life that only existed in their minds.

And because I realized more and more, just how much of what they believed was originating within them… and I saw how much that was costing them, in terms of time and energy and positive living… I just couldn’t spend a whole lot of time hanging out with them anymore. That, and the fact that I was so wiped out after working all week, and I just needed to have time to myself to regroup and recuperate. I just couldn’t stand their bitching and moaning and blatant assumptions about life, which only served to get in their way.

The world wasn’t the problem. THEY were the problem.

And so I dropped a lot of them and I’ve gone my own way.

It’s been kind of lonely, to tell the truth. It’s tough to connect with other people like you, when you all have so little energy to spare, beyond basic survival. And the people I’ve tried to stay friends with and tell about my TBI issues… well, they just weren’t having it. They were so convinced that “there’s nothing wrong” with me — and a lot of them still are. They can’t see the internal issues I have to deal with, each and every day. They can’t see the struggles, the pain, the frustration. There’s not much point in trotting them out for others to see, because they just get nervous if they don’t know what it’s like. And they don’t know what to say.

So, it’s complicated. And it’s challenging. But in reality, is sustaining a TBI and not being able to shake the symptoms really that different from any other kind of loss? Losing your home, or your marriage, or a child, or a loved one, or a job? Or any other things that make up part of your identity in the eyes of others? People fall out of your life, they move on, they don’t know what to say to you… and sometimes they are never replaced. I think it comes with life. And getting older. And realizing who you are and what you will — and will not — tolerate in your life.

So, while I have a lot fewer friends in my life, and my activities have really pared down to the most essential of activities, and I’m not nearly as social as I used to be, that’s all fine. Because I’m fine.

I’m fine with how my life is now. I’m fine with things being so much quieter, and having a lot more time for the things that matter most to me. I’m fine with not being surrounded by people who are convinced the world is out to get them. And I’m fine with what the day has to bring.

Because being in the midst of my daily life — all the little details, as confounding as they can be — and experiencing it all, fully alive and engaged in my own life, is what brings me back to myself.

For many years after my various TBIs, I held back and was off by myself in a world of my own inventing, like so many of my ex-friends. And I didn’t really let life in. It was safer, but it was no way to get myself in shape to live my life. I avoided a ton of experiences, because they were too overwhelming or too confusing for me. And I thought I could avoid all that and prevent the anxiety that came with it.

Now, I generally accept that I’m going to get confused and overwhelmed, and I can plan for it. I expect it. So, it’s not such a terrible thing. It’s just one more aspect of life I have to manage. And so I do.

All that the day brings — all it has to offer — it’s there for me.

Now, what shall I do with my life today?

Let’s find out.

Onward…

 

 

 

Getting free of the stuff in my head

I’ve got a business trip coming up next week, so I’m getting out of town to an area where it’s a little bit warmer than it is here. It’s funny – with all the “polar vortex” action, I’m kind of used to it being pretty cold. It doesn’t even really register with me, to tell the truth. It just feels cold.

One of the nice things about this trip, is that I’ll be staying at a hotel that has outdoor hot tubs down by the pool. Even if it gets cold, the water is still warm, and I plan to spend a lot of my free time in the hot tub, whenever possible. Work out some of the winter aches from my bones. Get some serious heat therapy.

One of my hopes/dreams for my future is that someday I’ll have enough money to put a hot tub in the back of my house. It doesn’t have to be a big one — heck, it can be one of those Japanese models that seats one person. But I do eventually need a hot tub at my house. In all weather (except thunderstorms) I can be out there, taking the edge off. Soaking in hot water — like in a hot tub — is the only thing that actually reliably helps my pain, other than movement and getting my mind off things, and it helps me relax and sleep.

Considering how much good it does me, maybe I can get insurance to pay for it…

Or not.

Anyway, I’ve got a FULL week ahead of me. I fly out tomorrow night — hopefully there will not be any bad weather to delay or cancel the flights. Then it’s non-stop go-go-go from Sunday at 7 a.m. till Wednesday evening. I’m going to get to see some of my relatives who live nearby, which will be great. But it’s all going to be a balancing act for four days solid.

In a way, I think this is going to be good for me. It will keep me out of my head, and it will keep me going. I’ve noticed over the past months, that I don’t actually do a lot of the things I should be doing — certain chores, certain tasks, certain to-do items on my honey-do list. It’s not that I can’t do them. They’re just so boring and easy for me to do, I have no interest. That’s how it often is for me — once I know how to do something and it’s easy for me to do, I lose interest and lose my edge, and I can’t be bothered. I guess I get in a rut, and then I feel really demoralized and demotivated, and things fall apart.

Just gotta keep it real. Gotta keep it fresh. And get out of my head.

One of the things I’m doing differently now, is not keeping a notebook full of notes and lists of things to do. I’m sick of it. It’s just one long list after another, and where’s the joy? Once upon a time, I lived for my lists. They kept me engaged and on track. But now they just irritate me. I guess that means I’m getting better (?). Either that, or I’m in complete denial 😉

In any case, I’ve exchanged my three-subject spiral-bound notebook with all its pockets for notes and receipts and slips and what-not, for a “grown up” weekly calendar that doesn’t give me unlimited space for impossibly long lists of things to do. I use big lined post-it notes to list out all the things I need to do for the week, and then I pick and choose which ones I’ll do each day.

And I only take on one or two things per day, instead of the whole list.

That way, I can focus on one or two things at a time, and not get all distracted and whatnot.

And I can also cut myself a break. Looking back at the past years… holy smokes, it has been a whirlwind tour, with a constant flow of activity. I think last year was a “reset” year for me, to really stop the hamster wheel B.S. and really think about what I am doing, when I am doing it. Up until this past year, when things were so uncertain at work, and there was no real direction from our leadership, and we were all left to fend for ourselves pretty much, I’d been going-going-going at the office. Last year gave me a chance to “recalibrate” my approach and get a better, deeper understanding of my day-job work.

But even last year, when things were less frantic at the office, they were crazy-frantic in my overall life. I had a major personal project that really took a lot from me. I mean, I was working almost non-stop for most of the year… moving and shaking and wheeling and dealing… and I thought for sure it was going to change my life in a completely new direction. That actually did not work, because my project did not take off the way I expected it to. It was one disappointment after another, and I know I let some people down along the way.

Still, looking back, now it seems like a bit of a dream. I’ve “unhooked” from that almost addictive level of frantic activity, and I’ve settled into just wanting to narrow my focus and concentrate on my day-job now. It’s amazing how different things are, than they were just six months ago. It’s a completely different world, and I’m glad I didn’t bolt earlier. I have more responsibility, more opportunity, and I can see my way much more clearly.

Adjusting to the greater level of responsibility and pressure is actually not as big of a deal for me as everyone around me is experiencing. That’s what I have to keep in mind. I have been through much more intense situations in the past — I was going through this kind of organizational upheaval, 15 years ago, and in the past decade and a half, I have learned a ton of things — most of which are now instinctual, so I can’t articulate exactly what they are.

The biggest barrier to my success, right now, is listening to the hype from others. The other folks on my team are 10… 15… 20 years behind me in terms of this kind of experience, so they’re going to be going through a lot of drama and changes in the coming year. For me, this all feels quite familiar, and I totally screwed things up in the past because of being rash and untempered and hot-blooded, so I know what not to do, this time around, in order to improve my chances for advancement.

I need to remember this, as I move forward, and not let others’ drama get into my head. They are in a different universe from me, so I can’t let their perceptions cloud my own.

You know, it’s funny — now that things are evolving and the company is growing and we are going through all kinds of growing pains, I remember that this growth was the big reason I signed on with this company. Originally, they were around 700+ employees, which seemed too small for me at the time, but I figured that the parent company would be integrating them into the overall organization before too long. I figured, “Well, this (small, independent status) isn’t going to last long.” And I was right about that hunch. I didn’t actually want to work at a small company, but I signed on because of the chance that it would get big.

And so it has.

I had completely forgotten about that go-big hunch. In the course of the first year I was there, I acclimated to how things were, and I completely forgot about my expectations that it wouldn’t last. And I actually got comfortable with certain aspects of that kind of life.

Then things started to change, and I got so caught up in my resistance to change (even if it was for the better) and my disorientation and feeling totally victimized, that I lost sight of the good that was possible. I couldn’t see it. Nobody could, actually. All I knew was, things were changing, and I didn’t like that at all. It didn’t make things any easier, that I couldn’t see a future at that company, and I didn’t see the point in acclimating to anything.

Now the organization has shifted, and true to my base hunch, things are working in my favor. I do well in large organizations. People feel comfortable around me, they feel calmer when I’m with them, and when I’m “on”, I actually make work fun. I do well in a big, anonymous environment, where everyone is just trying to get their job done in the face of lots of limitations — like budget, time, manpower, etc. So, this shift is in my favor.

This is the first time in my life that I can see the forest, instead of the trees, and the forest looks pretty good. I credit my TBI recovery with this new-found “superpower” — being able to screen out the distractions and pointless things, to focus on the bigger picture. In the process of recovering from my post-concussive symptoms, I am developing my ability to see opportunity and chances for growth, instead of a constant stream of irritating, frustrating distractions. And that’s good.

It’s good for me, and it’s good for everyone around me.

The best part is, it gets me out of my head. Back when I was just doing coding, all the social stuff was very alienating for me. I was in the habit of focusing on little pieces of code, small subsets of functionality, and I wasn’t actually getting paid to see the big picture. If anything, that got beaten out of me, because every time I tried to address the bigger picture, the people running the show would put me back in my place.

Now, though, I’m doing completely different work, and the big picture is very much a part of what I do. It’s actually what I’m supposed to do. And rather than being limited by bosses who want me to stay in my place, I’m being given the green light to move ahead and Think Big, Talk Big, Be Big.

Which is pretty danged cool. I’ve earned it. By God, I’ve earned it.

So, all this Big-ness is keeping me out of my head. I can’t get stuck in all the little details, because people need to see results, and I need to complete my tasks and duties in a timely manner. I literally have to move on — or else. I don’t have to figure everything out perfectly, up front. That’s not my job. My job is to come up with a framework, an overall plan, a strategy, and an infrastructure for a new system of getting a certain type of work done, and communicate that to everyone involved.

I’m not at the busy-work level anymore for most of what I do. Some of it is still hands-on day-to-day busy-ness, but that’s fading. And in another year, I doubt I’m going to be burdened with that. All the little details are being handled by others — it’s their job, not mine. And I’m happy to let them handle things. This frees me up to think about the bigger picture in ways I could never do before. And it’s good.

So, I should get going and take myself to work. I’ve got another full day ahead of me, and there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get sorted out before I pack it in at the office and start packing my bags for the trip. This conference is an annual event that I originally dreaded, and which was a HUGE challenge for me. But now I am actually looking forward to it, and even if it is non-stop craziness, I know there is an end in sight. And I can rest when I get home.

While I’m there, though, there’s that hot tub down by the pool that has my name on it.

Onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a good laugh and getting it done

Each day is a new discovery. That much has become abundantly clear to me, over the past years. I think I’ve always had that orientation, really, from when I was a kid. I was inquisitive, no doubt, and I had an insatiable curiosity to find out “what happens if –” I had plenty of opportunity to find out the answer to that “what if”. And not all the answers were fun and games. But at least I kept at it.

I had another “discovery evening” last night, after dinner. I was helping a friend get some web stuff together, and they were starting to get anxious and pushy. I seem to have a lot of friends who get anxious and pushy… Anyway, tempers were starting to escalate, and I was getting pissed off. I was trying to help them, and they kept arguing with me and changing what they wanted to do. Exasperating.

So, I told a joke. And they laughed. And the whole mood changed. The whole experience turned from being a hurdle, into being an interesting discovery that we could figure out together. And we ended up having fun with it. Of course, it would have been nice if we’d done this earlier than 10:00 at night — it woke me up, and I didn’t get to sleep till midnight, and then I woke up at 5:15 today. Bummer. Oh, well. At least we managed to get that web thing done, and with any luck, it’s going to help them make some money and be more independent.

Humor is becoming more and more key for me, these days — or rather, figuring out how to find humor is becoming more key. I used to be a real card — a cut-up, a joker, a fun-n-games type of person who was always good for a laugh. All growing up, I could always make the people around me laugh and smile and feel better. It was one of the things that made me so great to work with. People really enjoyed working with me, because I was a lot of fun, and I could turn any tense situation into a much easier one.

Then I fell in 2004, and all of a sudden, nothing was funny anymore.

Nothing.

I think of all the things TBI has cost me, my sense of humor has cost me most dearly. It’s really messed with my quality of life, and my ability to function in the world. You wouldn’t think that a sense of humor would be that critical, but in trying times — as they so often are for me — being able to laugh at myself and my situation has carried me through some very tough spots. And it’s helped others as well. In fact, my sense of humor is one of the things that attracted my spouse to me in the first place.

Not being able to lighten up has made things much more difficult in my work, my relationships, my marriage, and life in general. I used to be able to lighten up “on demand”, but over the past years, it’s been incredibly difficult to do that. In fact, if anything, I’ve gone in the opposite direction — spiraling down, down, down, on an instant’s notice. That’s been very hard on everyone around me. And watching them struggle with me has felt terrible. I should be able to do better. But that “better” escaped me for years.

Fortunately, that’s changed somewhat over the past while — I’m not sure if it’s been a year or months. I lose track of time. But regardless, I’ve been able to find humor in places that tend to trouble me. When I can find the humor, I can get some perspective — and my brain gets the additional oxygen it needs. And everyone gets a much-needed break from all the intensity.

Thinking about the dynamics between my spouse and me, they were always the one who was heavy and intense and deeply feeling, and I was the bright light that danced around in the sky, getting our minds off all those troubles, and hoping for a better day. I really was able to balance my spouse’s mental challenges and physical illness with good humor and courage, for many, many years. And my humor gave me tons of energy and optimism. Between the two of us, we could get a ton of things done. When the humor left me around 2004-2005, we lost an important part of our relationship and our dynamic.

And everything got that much harder, that much more mired in the muck of life.

But now I can see myself coming out of that dark space. I hear myself making jokes again. And I find myself laughing spontaneously, for a change. Facebook and YouTube help, actually, with their steady stream of videos and pictures highlighting the follies of humanity. My laughter is lighter, now, and less bitter. Because I’m getting out of the weeds, and I’m figuring out how to not get mired in one detail after another.

You know, it’s funny — I’ve been thinking, lately, about how lax I’ve become with a lot of things. I used to be so diligent, so conscientious, so focused on results. Now, I’m more interested in enjoying myself in what I’m doing. But has that cost me, in terms of doing what I say I’m going to? No. Actually, it helps me. Before my fall, things were much more proportional in my mind — I could keep things in perspective, and not get hung up on all sorts of stupid little details. TBI really screwed with that — and I became obsessed over sh*t that didn’t matter, sweating every little thing that was of no consequence. The more I obsessed, the more I sweated, the more obsessed I became — over a lot of nothing.

Now, I’ve figured out how to let a lot of that go, and just focus in on enjoying what I’m doing, without really sweating all the little details. A lot of the things that used to drive me — doing exactly the right thing in the most perfect way possible — oh hell, I don’t care about that anymore. It makes me crazy — and for what? The job I do isn’t going to save my soul, and it’s not the ticket to a gloriously happy life. It’s a job that pays the bills. It’s fairly interesting, but it’s not all that — like it used to be.

Ironically, I’ve found that when I let a lot of my obsessing go, I can actually focus in on what I’m doing, and do a better job of it. I can clear out the cobwebs with a good laugh, and buckle down to make some progress. Having this balance is a new thing. And it’s a good thing. It feels odd, to not be over-the-top obsessed with being #1 at every single thing I do, but I can live with that odd feeling.

As long as I’m enjoying myself and not driving myself crazy… as long as I’m making progress and moving things along… it’s all good.

Until somebody tells me it’s not. Then I have to refocus… but that’s another topic for another day. For today, it’s all good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the big picture in view

Lots of stuff going on. Lots of activity. Lots of good things, and lots of fatigue to go with it. I’ve been stepping away to sleep for a half hour or so, around lunchtime, and it’s been helping. It’s hard to believe how tired I get…

Part of the tiredness comes from “anticipation fatigue” — getting ideas in my head about what’s going to happen, and then experiencing those things as though they have already happened. It’s a vice — only right now is actually real. I like to think I’m preparing myself, but what I’m really doing is avoiding what’s in front of me.

Anyway, I have a couple of big deadlines ahead of me over the coming week, and I’m getting a little anxious about them. Some of it is potentially life-changing stuff, which I could easily bail on, so I don’t have to contend with the anxiety and stress. But if I don’t follow through, how will I live with myself?

So, I try to keep steady and stay strong. And not get ahead of myself. Take things one at a time, and see where that leads me. It’s all good, really – it’s just a lot to do.

Keep the big picture in mind… but also tend to the little details.

The vital care for small things

One thing at a time… piece by piece, bit by bit…

I notice small things, here and there, which need to change. And in changing those small things, I see large effects.

Like email, for example. Steering clear of it for days on end, and then only looking at the messages from people I recognize and care about.

And the bruises that have been showing up on my arms and legs for no apparent reason. I don’t recall banging into things… Then I check online and find that fish oil is a blood thinner, and too much of it can lead to increased bruising. I’ve been taking double my usual amount — two big capsules instead of just one. I thought I was doing myself a favor. Turns out, I may have been making myself bruise more easily.

And my finances. Creating a spreadsheet of my monthly income and expenses, so I can see where I can reasonably expect to be over the coming weeks and months… and plan accordingly.

And breathing. In traffic. When something comes up that flips that switch that gets me going. At work. In meetings. At home. Whenever I feel myself tensing up and becoming cramped and anxious. Breathing. Counting breaths. Feeling the sensation of my breath in my nostrils, filling my lungs… sensing the expansion of my chest, the rise of my shoulders… Breathing.

Little things, made large. Small things take care of, as the essential elements of life they are.

I look up from my desk and look for stars in the night-time sky beyond my study window.