Getting my body back, too

balance-figuresI’ve been concerned about falling, for some time, now. I get lightheaded and dizzy, and I sometimes lose my balance when I’m tired or I’m distracted (which is often how I feel). I’ve seen a neurologist about possible neurological bases for this, but the MRI didn’t come back with anything meaningful that they could do anything with. Also, I don’t have a condition they can diagnose, so they can’t bill the insurance company, which means I can’t get much in-depth help from them. They need to pay their bills, and if the insurance won’t cover what they’re doing for me – and I certainly can’t cover it all – then nothing’s going to get done.

Which kind of sucks.

But frankly, it doesn’t surprise me. I have been steering clear of neurologists for some time. Only after my neuropsych encouraged me to dig deeper, did I agree to try again. And the one they referred me to moved out of state, so that’s that. This one was another good prospect, they thought, but my experience is turning out different from their expectation. No surprises there.

I’m going back in another week to follow up and put this whole thing to rest. All they can tell me is that I’m probably not sleeping enough, which my old neuropsych thought was “preposterous” – but I can kind of see their point. When I’m tired, my brain doesn’t work as well. And balance is very much handled in the brain. So, fatigue could conceivably be a source of imbalance.

Still, there’s no guarantee that I’m going to ever actually catch up on my sleep and feel fully rested. I wear out easily, and I don’t have a life that allows me to get naps when I need them. Not yet, anyway. I’m working on that.

Anyway, I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about it. I’m meeting with a wellness coach/personal trainer at work today. That’s one of our employee benefits – an on-site wellness consultant – so I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m going to see if they can tell me some things I can do to strengthen my overall system, to give me better balance, physically speaking.

Think about it — the body moves as a result of muscles coordinating their movement. And keeping your balance really involves a lot of muscles. I sit and stand — stationary — for most of the day, every single day, so I don’t use those muscles as much. And that’s no good. So, I’m hoping they can show me ways to strengthen, as well as get more flexible — that’s another piece of keeping your balance.

I’m also working on really improving my sense of my own body and where I am in space. I get pretty banged-up from doing yardwork and chores around the house, because I run into things (but don’t realize it), and then I end up with bruises from impacts I can’t recall. I’m so focused on what I’m doing, that I don’t even notice the impacts. So, yeah, there are two things going on there, but I’m thinking that if I can at least improve my sense of where I am, relative to sharp objects and hard surfaces, I can possibly look a little less like I got in a bar brawl, after I’m done cleaning up the yard๐Ÿ˜‰

The way I’m working on that, is by really paying attention to my body during the day – noticing where I’m tense, and focusing on relaxing it. I’ve been watching videos of Systema — a Russian martial arts practice that centers around breathing, relaxation, and body awareness. Some of the things that they do in the videos are amazing — and the folks doing it aren’t these monster-ripped superheroes who overpower their opponents with sheer force. They’re average-looking folks who you’d never expect to be able to do the things they do. Because they know their bodies, and they relax and let themselves just respond to the situation.

I don’t think I’d ever do Systema training, because of all the hits and the falls. I’ve had enough of them in my life, already, and I don’t want to push my brain’s luck. But I did get a book from them a while back about breathing and improving your body sense, and I’ve been reading that on and off, over the past year. I’m getting back to it, now, and it feels pretty good. Just getting a better sense of my body, how it moves, how it feels when it moves… when it’s tense… when I need to breathe… it’s good.

It’s also helping me sleep. I get so caught up in my head, that my body can’t catch a break. So, focusing in my breath and also trying to feel each and every bone and muscle in my body, and relax as much as possible… that gets me into a relaxed state that gets me “down” before I can get halfway through. I’ll start at my toes, and by the time I’m at my knees, I’m out.

And that’s great. I used to do this all the time, then I stopped… and I forgot about doing it. That’s one thing I’m working on, these days — trying to follow through and not drop things before I finish them. Or, if I do get interrupted, make a note of what I’ve been doing, and keep that note where I can see it and remember it. I just remembered another project that I was making amazing progress on… then I got interrupted, and I forgot about it… and I ended up heading in a completely different direction.

Months later, I suddenly remembered it last night, and sure enough — there it is, waiting for me to continue working on it.

The breathing and relaxation stuff is just the same. I’m making great progress, then I get distracted, and I head off in a different direction. And I forget about what I’d been doing — and it ceases to exist for me.

So, I lose the benefits I’ve been getting from it. And I lose that part of my life. I slowly drift back to my old ways. I start having the same problems that I had before, and I wonder why I keep ending up back where I started… all over again… when I was making so much great progress.

It’s discouraging. So, I need to do something about that.

And so I shall.

Onward…!

Getting past the energy crisis

Proper form is essential to avoid injury and build strength
Proper form is essential to avoid injury and build strength

I’ve been in a bit of an energy crisis, over the winter. I just haven’t felt like doing anything much, and I’ve felt my energy waning. I haven’t been exercising as I should. I do ride my exercise bike in the mornings pretty regularly (it’s rare that I don’t, which is good), but I haven’t been lifting or swimming as much as I should be.

I start, then I feel tired and sore, and my motivation gives out.

So, I stop lifting… I stop swimming… and then I feel even worse.

The thing is, when I DO exercise — lifting and swimming and stretching — I actually feel great all day. And my energy is great. It’s just getting myself to actually do the initial work, that’s the problem.

But now it’s springtime. And with the days being longer, I feel my energy returning. I’m a real “sun person”. I love to be in it (within reason, so I don’t get sunburned or drained by the heat). And despite my sometimes painful light sensitivity, I love the sight of sunlight brightening the world around me. It just makes all the difference, as does a few extra hours of sunlight each day.

But with my energy being as low as it has been, it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm to make the most of it. Energy is a self-fulfilling prophecy — the more of it I have, the more I get… the less of it I feel, the less of it I can generate. And even if I want with all my heart to “kick it”, if I don’t have the strength and the energy and resources to do it… well, it doesn’t happen.

So, I have to do something. I need my physical body to support the wishes and desires of my mind and heart, and without conditioning, that’s not going to happen. Keeping in shape is about more than keeping the pounds off and looking good. It’s about keeping myself as functional as possible — getting myself to a place where the strength of my body is on par with the drive of my mind. It’s about never giving up, never quitting, always keeping myself functional in ways that actually let me live the life of my choosing.

Just an example: I have water delivered. In those 5-gallon bottles. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, so that’s a 40-pound weight I need to lift intermittently, when I change out the water cooler. It’s never really been a problem for me in the past, but over the last year or so, I’ve had less coordination and strength. It’s been an interesting challenge to A) hoist the weight up, and B) flip it over onto the top of the cooler without dousing everything around it with water.

Normally, I can do it fine. But the last couple of times, I’ve given the nearby shelf a good splash. It’s not that big of a deal, because everything can be dried off. But then it’s one more thing I have to do, and that puts a crimp in my flow. It also annoys the crap out of me. I hate that. I hate being weaker than ever. I hate being uncoordinated. I hate the disheartening sound of water splashing out of the well where it’s supposed to be.

It’s not the end of the world, but it bothers me. And it’s something I can actually fix.

So, it’s time to do something about it. I need to get my behind in gear and get serious about my strength routine. It’s for the sake of being more conditioned and capable, as well as better balance. Plus, I need to be smart about it and not injure myself by doing too much too soon.

Now I’m adding another aspect to my workouts — the mental warmup in the morning, before I get out of bed. I’ve read in a number of places how visualizing physical activity actually primes you to do it properly. The brain simulates the activities before you do them, and that gets the right connections firing.

Here’s an excerpt from Visualization in Sport

Visualization in sport is a training technique that forms a part of the larger science of sports psychology. Visualization is also known as mental imagery and rehearsal. Visualization is used primarily as a training tool, one that improves the quality of athletic movement, increases the power of concentration, and serves to reduce the pressures of competition on the athlete while building athletic confidence.

Visualization occurs when athletes are able to create an image or a series of images relevant to their sport, without any external prompts or stimulation; the images are mentally generated by the athlete alone. Visual images are usually the most important to athletic training and may be employed as the sole mental training method. Athletes may also depend on auditory images (sounds), kinesthetic images (movements), tactile sensations (touch), and purely emotional stimulation, in combination with visualization or as freestanding training aids, as may be appropriate to the effort to elevate the performance of the athlete.

There is a powerful relationship between mental and physical performance in sport. The development of a wide range of mental powers, such as focus and concentration, elevates athletic performance; over-analyzing detracts from the athlete’s ability to react instinctively, an attribute that is usually a more desirable quality than the ability to reason through every sporting circumstance.

Visualization is intended to take the athlete to an image that conveys what perfection represents in the particular aspect of the sport. During visualization, the brain is directing the target muscles to work in a desired way. This direction creates a neural pattern in the brain, a pattern identical to the network created by the actual physical performance of the movements. A neural pattern is similar to diagramming the specific wiring and circuits necessary to transmit an electrical current. Alexander Bain (1818โ€“1903) of Great Britain was the first scientist to develop a theory as to how the brain built such patterns to direct and control repeated physical movement. Numerous researchers since that time have expanded on the concept. Visualization alone will not develop the most effective mechanisms in the brain to later perform the desired action, but physical training coupled with visualization will create better recognition of the required nervous system response than physical training alone.

This technique has been around for a long, long time. And I used to do it, when I was competing in high school sports. Somehow, the practice didn’t always translate properly to my regular life away from sports, and somehow I thought that because my non-athletic visualizations just weren’t working, I was either doing it wrong… or it just doesn’t work.

I’ve modified my beliefs about visualization — down-sized them a bit, you could say. Now, instead of using it to shape my entire life, I’m focusing on visualization of basic physical activities, those very kinesthetic behaviors that actually respond to the brain’s visualizations.

I’m visualizing proper form while I lift weights. I’m thinking about the feeling of my body as it moves the weights up and down, back and forth. I’m visualizing workouts, and I’m imagining how good it feels to do it. And this morning, after I lay in bed for 20 minutes, waking up gradually and thinking through my workout, I felt really good, doing the workout itself. And at the end, it was even more satisfying than ever.

So, this is good. I know I’ve done it before — I’ve started out strong, then I lost my focus and stopped doing the visualizations… and some of the exercise. Part of the problem in the past, is that I would get over-tired, push myself too hard, then get injured, and I’d take time off to heal… and then I’d never get back to my former practice.

I’d just forget about it. As though it didn’t even exist.

And by the time I remembered it, I would be de-conditioned again, and have to start all over.

How demoralizing.

Now, though, it doesn’t feel demoralizing. I feel energized. And I know I’m doing the right thing by taking it easy and just getting used to the motions again. I am working with either very light weights, or no weights at all, to re-develop my kinesthetic and proprioceptive sense. I also have access to a strength trainer at work who consults with employees about exercises and nutrition. So, I’m going to take advantage of that benefit.

I’ll carve out time in my schedule, and I’ll just do it.

Because I can.

Spring is here. Summer’s coming. Then fall. Three seasons — followed by winter, which I actually love. All of them ready for me to get moving into.

Onward.

Of MLK Day and Migraines

ON THE MOVE: Dr. Martin Luther King, lower right, holds hands with his wife, Coretta, during an Alabama march. -- PHOTOGRAPHER: Associated Press
ON THE MOVE: Dr. Martin Luther King, lower right, holds hands with his wife, Coretta, during an Alabama march. — PHOTOGRAPHER: Associated Press

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone. If anyone deserves a holiday commemorating their work, it’s him.

What I love about this picture is that it shows that he was not alone in his work and his belief and his actions. He’s surrounded by a whole lot of people, some of whom look nothing like him.

That speaks to the power of A) someone who has a very, very clear vision of how things could be — and is willing to put themself on the line for it, and B) a cohesive group of committed people who support that cause and are willing to put themselves on the line, as well.

I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, when students were bused in the small city we lived in, and the Black Power movement was on the rise. Those were the days after Dr. King’s life had ended, and I watched the Civil Rights Movement devolve into fractious fighting and chaos. I was attacked by other students a number of times because I didn’t look like them, and one of my most significant TBIs came at the hands of some of those kids. It was a violent time, a messy time, and there was a lot of harm done.

Of course, the pendulum tends to swing in different directions, so maybe that was to be expected. I’m not sure what would have happened, had Dr. King not been killed. There’s no guarantee things would not have descended into chaos, in any case. All I know is, those years of my childhood were extraordinarily tough, due to race relations, and I’m still dealing with the fallout.

Today is a holiday for many folks, including the schools. I actually don’t have the day off work. It’s an elective holiday for us, which means that office is going to be very quiet, as everybody with kids takes the day off to be with them. That also means there’s no point in me going into the office, and I can work from home.

That’s good.

I’m not in the mood to deal with people today. I’ve had a sick headache for days, now. It’s getting better, but it’s still around. Yesterday was better, probably because I got plenty of sleep over the weekend, I took it easy, and I cut out all that chocolate that I’ve been eating since the holidays. I’ve had at least 2 pieces of chocolate in the afternoons, for months. Sometimes I’ll have a bunch of it over the course of the day — to keep myself going. The amount has steadily increased, and I think it’s contributed to my migraines.

Chocolate has caffeine in it. Sugar, too. I’ve been using it as a substitute for coffee for those afternoon lulls. But that makes no sense — it’s still caffeine, which has been linked to migraines. I’ve also been drinking black tea (with honey) and yerba mate, both with caffeine. Come to think of it, when I started drinking more black tea (Red Rose is my favorite), the headaches started to come back.

So, I cut it all out for the past two days, and I’m feeling much better. I bit withrawal-ish, but better.

I had planned to get off caffeine completely, back in May, but that didn’t work. I have to have at least a little bit in the morning — I cut back on my amount drastically. The month of May came and went, and over the months, my headaches really subsided. But now, eight months later, I’ve slipped back into my old ways, and the headaches are back. So, I’m taking corrective action. And I’m just doing the smart thing — the thing that connects the dots.

I think there’s more to my headaches than just coffee. There’s usually more than one thing, with me. I ask myself: What all have I done differently over the past few months, that might have given rise to increased migraines?

  1. I was really off my regular diet over the holidays — eating a lot more sugar and carbs than usual, and not watching my portion control. I ate a LOT of candy, although I justified it by only eating chocolate, rather than a lot of other junk food. I told myself that dark chocolate is good for me, and it’s been linked with longevity. Who doesn’t want to live longer… all thanks to dark chocolate?
  2. I also stopped exercising regularly. I had a project in November that consumed my attention and kept me off the exercise bike, first thing in the morning. It also kept me off the trails on the weekends, and it consumed every spare moment of my time. Consequently, I lost muscle tone and strength and gained weight, and my energy level dropped. Not good.
  3. I was also pretty stressed at times over the holiday break. I got pretty bent out of shape about all the changes happening – work changes, doctor changes, etc. It got to me more than I care to admit, and it was definitely a factor in increased irritability. I wasn’t sleeping great, the stress was throwing me off, and I just didn’t feel like I could handle anything.
  4. Also… I worked from home for the week and a half around Christmas and New Years, and my spouse and I got irritable from being underfoot with each other. We had a couple of blow-ups, which shot up my blood pressure. I’ve been really struggling with my anger — and my heart rate — ever since. My headaches come on when my heart rate goes up, so it’s actually a helpful reminder to keep it down. And since I know how to lower my heart rate, I need to go back to just doing that. And so I have been. It takes time and practice — and I’ve been a bit out of practice.

think this is all inter-related, so I need to do something about it. And I’ve been doing just that. Laying off the chocolate. Doing my breathing exercises. Being extra-mindful about what’s going on around me and how I’m reacting to it. And taking action to reduce the stress. And making more of an effort to peacefully co-exist with my spouse. They’re making more of an effort, too. They actually asked me to work from home today, which is a huge change.

The most important thing for me is support. It make everything easier. I hadn’t mentioned my migraines to my spouse, during the holidays — I just did my usual shut-out thing, where I ignore the pain and hope it’ll go away. It didn’t, though. It just got worse. And of course, my spouse couldn’t figure out why I was in such rough shape, all of a sudden.

When I told them about my headaches, last week, suddenly there was support — compassion — and extra help with doing things like getting to bed at a decent hour and not overeating. They don’t do great with the whole TBI issues thing — it freaks them out, even to this day, and we can never discuss them without them going into some form of panic/anxiety. So, that’s no good. But they can deal with the idea that I have migraines. It doesn’t make them question their own safety and sanity.

If they think my brain is not working properly, they get frightened and combative, because it threatens their existence. But if they think I “just” have a sick headache, that poses no threat to them, and they can think clearly about how to help me. Migraines are less intimidating. Headaches are something they can relate to, without it turning into a life-and-death struggle… or pointing to a future filled with dementia and diapers.

So, “playing the migraine card” is a useful way to get the help I need, under these conditions. It helps, that it’s true.

And that’s good. Because all alone, dealing with all of this is a tough go.

Bottom line: when you have support from other like-minded individuals who share your vision and your dreams, you can actually achieve a thing or two.

Onward.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Happy-New-Year-20162016 has arrived! And welcome, new year. I’m very happy to see you arriving.

Just in time๐Ÿ˜‰

The bluejays are gathered around the base of the birdfeeder in the back yard, and crows are calling in the distance. When I got up this morning and went into the living room to do my daily warmup, I saw a cardinal sitting in one of the bushes outside my front window.

It didn’t fly away when I stopped to look at, it just sat there and looked at me.

Now the squirrels are arriving at the birdfeeder. They have been more active this year than usual, given the warm weather, so of course they’re hungry.

I just had my breakfast, so I’m not hungry anymore. At least, not for food. I’m hungry for life and all that this coming year has to offer. It feels like the kind of hunger you feel when you’re anticipating a really good meal prepared by someone you love (who’s also a great cook).

I have a really good feeling about this year. Of course, it’s impossible to tell what exactly will be coming down the pike, but whatever happens, I’m sure I will be able handle it.

Some of the things I have on my “docket” for this year are:

  • Finding a new PCP.
  • Finding a new neuropsychologist.
  • Continuing to build and strengthen my marriage. After 25 years, my spouse and I have been through a lot with each other, and we’re stronger than ever. I’m committed to keeping that going.
  • Finishing the books I have started – expanding Slow My Heart Rate, into a full-fledged book with expanded references and resources, as well as finishing several other TBI-related books I started over the past several years and have not yet put the finishing touches on.
  • Continuing with my daily exercise program, and really focus on my strength training.
  • Organizing my workspace better, so I have more room to work and store my materials.
  • Keeping my professional head on straight, so that the pending work changes which are imminent don’t derail me.
  • Just staying steady and strong through it all, focusing on the basics — good food, plenty of water, good sleep, leading a meaningful life.

I suppose that could be considered a New Years Resolution list, but in fact it’s just a continuation of what I am already doing — it’s more of a statement of intention to keep on keepin’ on, and fill in the blanks of my life where they pop up… which is really what I do anyway.

It’s steady-on for me, this year. With all that entails. I’m sure I will learn a lot in the process. There will be ups, there will be downs, there will be highs and lows and everything else in between. And that’s fine. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be…

So, with that said,

May the new year bring you much that is good, much that helps you grow and strengthen and continue on your chosen path. And may 2016 bring us all much love and light — no matter what.

Happy New Year!

Maybe I have a few months, maybe a year, maybe longer

france_roadSo, all the talk is heating up at work about the changes coming down the pike with the merger. A lot of people are pretty upset, because they see the writing on the wall — writing which may or may not be there, actually.

People will do just about anything to predict the future. It’s one of the most human things you can do.

And that’s precisely what gets us in trouble — concocting a future that never actually had a chance to exist, but we somehow think must absolutely come to be.

Anyway, the way I see it, I have a handful of different prospects:

  1. I get laid off in the next few months, to free up $$$ they need elsewhere.
  2. I am kept on, and I spend the next 12-18 months doing my job, seeing how things go. Then, I look for another job in another year or so. Supposedly, all our salary and benefits stuff is supposed to stay in place throughout 2016, but we’ll see about that. If that is the case, there’s no reason for me to leave, because the benefits are good, and the salary is decent.
  3. I stay on indefinitely and take things as they come, settling into the new organization and making my way as best I can.

Frankly, any of the above could happen, and it would be fine. I just can’t live my life with things hanging over my head. I have other interests, other things to keep me occupied and engaged. Whatever the people in charge will do, they’ll do. Whatever I choose to do, I’ll do.

If the two are mutually beneficial, then great. But I’m not making this into the be-all-to-end-all of my life. The whole “career” thing is old, anyway. I just need a paycheck, so I can fund the life I want, and I can live my life to the fullest.

La la.

It’s turning out to be an amazingly beautiful day, today.ย  We had some stormy weather, over the past few days that chilled me to the bone, but now I see blue sky out my window. I’m not sure how hot or cold it is outside, but I’ll find out when I go out.

I’ve been feeling pretty bad, for the last three days, but I feel like I’m turning a corner. My sinuses are still stuffed up, but I’m not sneezing and hacking, and my throat isn’t burning anymore. I just have to make sure I wipe my nose frequently. And I’ve got tissues with lotion in them to keep me from looking like Charlie Chaplin with a red, raw moustache. I read for a while, as I was riding my exercise bike, and I got a lot of movement in, which is good. I’m stretching more, and it’s helping my hip, and I’m also doing more stairs at work, which gets the blood pumping and helps me forget I’m stuck in a veal pen all day at work. The stairwell is usually empty, and the echo of my footsteps as I walk up and down the three steep flights is a cadence that keeps me moving, even though I’m out of breath.

When I started there, I had to stop, halfway up the flights, to catch my breath. I refuse to take the elevator, unless I’m loaded down with boxes. There are steps right there, which ascend beside the elevator, and when I’m moving at a decent clip, I can actually beat the elevator to the third floor. It’s good exercise, and I can do it anytime.ย  Since I’m fighting off an infection, I can’t go swimming, so I might as well do the stairs — as well as ride the bike in the morning, and lift some light weights.

Today, I did without the weights. I’m still a little sore from yesterday, and my body still aches a bit. I can get back to it tomorrow.

So, this is my daily work — keeping my body and mind in good working order, to handle whatever comes down the pike. My goals is to both say and believe, “Whatever happens, it’s all good,” because I will make it that way.

Onward.

And in the end, we learn…

Some days you nail the holidays, sometimes the holidays nail you.
Some days you nail the holidays, sometimes the holidays nail you.

This trip to see family for Thanksgiving has been chock-full of lessons. I’m still sorting them out. Some of them, I may forget, by the time I get home, so I’ll write them down here, and come back to them later.

  1. Having a perfect life is no guarantee of happiness.
  2. The people who appear to be the most powerful and privileged are often suffering under terrible burdens. Sometimes it’s their very burdens that drive them to be more poweful and privileged than anyone else.
  3. People who are innately talented and sharp, don’t always end up in the best circumstances. People who work-work-work their asses off can accomplish great things.
  4. The people who seem to be the most wealthy, are often very poor in their own hearts.
  5. It helps if you’re attractive and have a ready smile.
  6. People are surprisingly judgmental of others who are simply different.
  7. No matter where you look, there are people in some kind of need.
  8. People dislike having to question their most fundamental beliefs. They’re a whole lot easier to get along with, if you pretend to agree with them — or at least don’t judge them.
  9. Most people I know are very set in their ways about how women should act, and how men should act. Come to think of it, they’re very set in their ways about how “normal” people should act.
  10. It usually pays off to keep your head about you and maintain a cool demeanor.
  11. If you can’t do #10, step away. Give it a few minutes.
  12. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eliminating regularly, will do wonders for your interpersonal relationships. It’s all about the flow…
  13. Life is short. Be kind.
  14. Sometimes, all it takes to get people back on track in mind and spirit is a long card game.
  15. Winning a hand of cards is restorative. Losing gracefully, four hands in a row, is ennobling. Having a good laugh at yourself being a sore loser is good for everyone at the table.
  16. Many things are awful. But they pass. It makes no sense to let awfulness get hold of you and trick you into thinking it will last forever.
  17. Everything looks easier in hindsight.
  18. All those old resentments I held against my in-laws for having so much more than me, and providing so much more to their kids, now pales compared to the peace I have in my life. They don’t have that peace. Their opulence is not saving them.
  19. My “country hick” insecurities around my in-laws are still there. I still feel like an idiot when I am around them.
  20. However, I have not understood the source of my insecurities, till recently. I thought, for years and years, that I was less intelligent than they, and I was too slow. As it turns out, by the time we reach their home, I am usually exhausted from driving, my sensory issues are out of control, after dealing with my own family, and I am literally not myself. My ears are ringing, I’m slowed down by fatigue, my noise and light and smell and touch sensitivities are all on HIGH ALERT, and I can’t understand what anyone is saying because the television is usually blaring. It’s a total onslaught of sensory overload, which my in-laws have to immerse themselves in, because they are so deeply unhappy as they follow all the rules, and they need something to dull their intense pain.Their coping mechanisms make it very difficult for me to function. It’s not me, that’s the problem, it’s the environment.
  21. My in-laws are trapped in a “perfect” life, doing things they never really questioned, and their difficulties with that are simply too much for them to handle. They’ve decided to be happy, simply being successful and popular, everything looking good on the outside, but deep down inside, being so sad and lonely.
  22. My in-laws cannot accommodate people who are different. They get disgusted with people who aren’t functioning”normally” due to invisible conditions. They don’t understand how people can have limits that are difficult to explain, and you don’t live up to their specific expectation of how you “should” function, they can get pretty mean-spirited. Their intentions are good, but their follow-through sucks.
  23. My parents are surprisingly resigned to getting old and infirm. Well, my father is, anyway. He’s giving up and giving in… I read some things he wrote, and it makes me sad that he’s not fighting it more. He’s got a lot of years left in him, but he’s talking and thinking like he’s going to die before long. His handwriting has gotten noticeably worse over the past year. I think his diabetes is catching up with his brain function. And I’m literally not sure when/if I’m going to see him again.
  24. My family is much better at accommodating individual needs and limitations, than my in-laws. My in-laws think a pill fixes everything, while my family believes community fixes everything. Small wonder. We’re all a bunch of farmland hayseeds, here, and there are plenty of “neurodiverse” people in our midst, due to brain injuries, congenital defects, poor medical care, etc. There are a LOT of “different” people here, so folks know how to handle them, for the most part. And the social rules here are so strict, everybody knows what they should be doing in any given situation, so it makes it possible for people to function, without thinking much about anything. It’s interesting.
  25. Holidays are borderline hell for me. There is TOO MUCH ACTIVITY, and the expectations are too high. It’s TOO LOUD. Too many smells and changes in routine. I dread it. Every bit of it. Including all the parties and social activities. And the holidays are not easy for my spouse, either, who also has sensory issues but is less aware of them.
  26. Both of us struggle terribly, at times, so it’s important for me to keep my act together, so only one of us is going off the rails at the same time.
  27. I am so happy to be driving home today. It’s a full day’s drive, and we’re going to take our time. Get out and stretch. My left hip is killing me. Not enough exercise.
  28. I’m glad we made this trip. And I’m even more glad to be going home.

And now, it’s time for a walk.ย  A long, long walk, before I get in the car and sit for 9 hours.

After a good, long day

Calming it down, one breath at a time
For today, I decided to be the master of my own destiny. It was fun.

I spent the day working around the house and yard. I got an early start (for a Sunday), getting my breakfast and starting at 8:30, and working till about 10:00. Then I stopped for a snack, made myself a soft-boiled egg and a banana and a big glass of water, then I went back to it.

I finished everything up around 2:35. So, that’s about 5-1/2 hours of good hard work behind me. I had a lot of cleanup to do around the yard, raking up dead leaves and pulling out dead plants, moving around fallen limbs and branches, and making sure the front bushes are okay after having limbs fall on them. I also found some things I need to fix — the front stairs have a gap in front of them, and if you step into it, you can get hurt. Repair folks coming to the house, the first year, often stepped in that gap.

Mind the gap

Now I need to go get a long 2×4 to lay across the gap. The other one rotted out.

I also had to clean up along the edge of the driveway, where I had let leaves and weeds pile up into a kind of compost heap. I clean that out every couple of years, because it builds up from nature doing its thing, and it’s a hard place to keep clear. This was the year I did it. I got out the wheelbarrow and a shovel and took three loads of “compost” down to the ditch along the road. The compost has a bunch of different stuff in it, including some non-organic materials, so it’s better off down by the road, where it will just help fill in the ditch.

By the time I was done, I was DONE. I was completely worn out, and I didn’t have the energy to fold up the tarps and put away the leaf blower. I just left everything in the empty bay in the garage. I’ll get to that later.

For today, that’s enough. I took a little nap afterwards, then woke up feeling like I needed to check Facebook, for some weird reason. I looked, and I saw that one of the younger members of my family who has been going through some tough times just got a massive break — their life has turned a corner for the better, which is really phenomenal. They remind me a lot of myself, when I was their age, and now that they’re getting on the good foot, they don’t necessarily need to go down the self-destructive road I was on, when I was 30 years younger than today.

So, it’s good. Work is a bit of a pain — my boss was emailing me today, but I’m not in the mood to deal with that. I’m OFF work, till tomorrow. Then I’ll worry about things. I’m sure it will all be very exciting and dramatic. No doubt about that.

Lying down earlier helped the pain — a lot. I’m feeling better. I also feel better when I move around, instead of just lying in bed, and I ran out to pick up my spouse’s medication a little while ago. It was good to just get in the car and drive.

One thing I need to be careful of, this holiday season, is drinking too much coffee and eating too much candy. I have been hitting the Halloween stash a little too heavy, these past couple of weeks. It’s funny, because I don’t even celebrate it — just eat the candy. Halloween is just an excuse to load up on sugar, and on top of that I haven’t been exercising enough for my own good.ย  I’ve been caught up in a new project that I want to get done this month. Fortunately, I’ve worked like a crazy person for a week, so I am actually ahead of my self-imposed schedule.

With the holidays just around the corner, I need to keep steady and take good care of myself. I’ve been drinking more coffee than usual, lately, as well. I get tired in the late afternoon, so I have a little cup before I drive home. It’s really not good for me — makes my migraines worse. I’ve been very fortunate, over the past few months, to have far fewer headaches than usual. Ever since I cut back on the coffee and also really focused on keeping my heart rate lowered, the headaches have been almost non-existent. I still get some, now and then (I’ve got a little one now), but they’re nothing like they used to be.

So, it’s all pretty chilled out, right now. My spouse has been in a foul mood, all day. Something must have happened at their business event yesterday evening — but they’re not telling me about it.ย  They sometimes make poor choices about who they do business with, and they realize it too late — and after they’ve described the behavior of their new “business partner” to me. I think they may have done or said something unwise, and they’re embarrassed about it. They don’t want me to know. They keep their phone close by, and they spent most of the day in bed… hiding from who knows what.

Anyway, I have a few more things I need to do, this evening, then I’m turning in. I’m much less sore now, than I was a few hours ago, and I hope tomorrow I’ll feel even better. I have a light week, this week, with only one appointment in the evening, so I want to get to the pool every day… as much as I can. I’m also considering joining a local health club that has a sauna. I really want to use saunas regularly, because it’s incredibly good for you and helps clean out your system. I feel like I need to “flush out” a lot of the stress and gunk in my system.Of course, working out each morning would help, but I’ve been so antsy. I’ve been so caught up in my new project.

Anyway, I’m going to back off a bit on the pressure, and just see what the next week brings. I’ve got a number of different irons in the fire, as regards my little projects, and it’s time to shift them around and shake things up — keep interesting. Break up the monotony. I haven’t been hiking in over a week, which is unfortunate because the weather has been next to perfect, and winter is not far off. But I had other things going on. And now my yard is looking good.

I’ll paint the kitchen ceiling next week.

I do look forward to that. I’ll be able to get it done early, and then spend the rest of the day in the woods, if I so choose.

Or maybe I’ll work on my projects…

The main thing is, I need to keep productively occupied. I can’t let myself get down in the dumps, because I know better. I have things to do, I have a purpose to serve. Even if it’s not world-shaking and earth-shattering, it’s my own little way of making the world a slightly better place.

At least, that’s the plan.

Onward…

Well, hello…

followersYou know, I really do try to keep up with everyone who follows this blog. I’ve got 678 followers right now. That’s not astronomical, and compared to some who have thousands of followers, it’s a pittance, but it’s something. And I appreciate each person who follows me. I truly do.

So, thank you.

I periodically check my list of followers to make sure I have followed everyone who has followed me. I like to keep in touch with what others are writing and thinking about. I read people’s blogs while I’m riding the exercise bike in the mornings — it’s a good way to wake up to the day.

Plus, it’s just good practice to return the favor of someone following you… provided, of course, they’re not dangerous and/or promoting ideas and behavior that cause indiscriminate hate, harm, pain, and suffering to people who are simply different from them.

Granted, 600+ blogs is a lot to follow, but it really gives me a nice range of writing and thinking to choose from. So, if you’re one of the bloggers who follows me/is followed by me, thank you for widening my world.

Anyway, I thought I was keeping up with all my follows ‘n’ such.

But looking back at my WordPress list… as it turns out, probably about 10% of my followers are not marked as being followed by me. And a lot of them are from years ago… How did they fall through the cracks?

Really strange.

I was so sure I was keeping up. I clicked the buttons. I paged through the listings. But still, there were a lot of folks I had not followed. How did that happen?

Ha – story of my life. I have a tendency to be sooooo sure that I have everything covered, only to discover surprise!! that I really don’t. Just another reminder that I need to check my results more than once, to make sure I’ve done/said/supposed the right thing. That certainty that I feel about being right… well, it often steers me wrong. So, I have to stay honest and humble about these things and do the extra legwork to follow up.

Argh!
Argh!

Which really frustrates me, to tell the truth. I mean well, and I want to do well, but my brain seems to conspire against me. And I have to back-track to figure things out… which is also frustrating because my memory sometimes fails me, and I’m working with less information than I would like.

It’s a little like carrying water in a woven basket. So often I get to my destination without all my ducks in a row, so I have to go back to the well and fill up again, but I still keep losing the pieces of the puzzle.

Ah, well. A day in the life.

The main thing is to keep focused on what is most important — how my life is going, how I’m feeling about it, how much energy I have for the good things.

Good things like the birds at my birdfeeder, who are so, so happy that I filled it up with fresh seed. I have been remiss for the past several months. I even bought a bag of seed, and it sat in my kitchen for 2 weeks, before I got around to filling the feeder. Now it’s full. At least, it was early this morning. The birds have been so busy at it, I probably need to top it off later today.

And get more seed, the next time I go shopping.

Poor birds. I got so caught up in my own drama, my own concerns about work and life and my health, that I lost sight of the things that put a positive spin on things — helping those in need… like the hungry birds in my back yard.

When we get out of ourselves and put aside our preoccupation with the pain and frustration of our limitations, we begin to truly live. We all have our limitations, we all have our wounds and our hurts. It’s what we do with them and the knowledge they grant us, that makes it all worth it.

And with that, I wish you a good day.

I look forward to reading even more of the blogs I’m now connected with.

Vacation is coming… vacation is coming…

Soon...
Soon…

I’ve been working fast and furious, trying to get my act together so I can go away on vacation. I don’t want my job to slip, and I’ve got a big deadline coming up.ย  It matters to me. On the other hand, I actually don’t care if it comes of 100% without a hitch… because one of the things I’m trying to retrain people to think about, is making incremental improvements to things, rather than having everything work 100% out of the box.

Good enough — then fixing later — is the new way to do things. Plus, now we can do it that way, because the technology we have is better.

Anyway, the thing about my job is that there is so much that I want / need to do, but there are only so many hours in the day. People who have been there a while say that’s how everyone feels. It’s a great problem to have – back in the day, I would watch the clock, waiting for 5:00 (or whenever I got my 8 billable hours and could leave). Now I’m racing the clock, half the time.

Still stressful, but in a good way.

So, this vacation is going to be half working. I’m going to spend some time in the mornings of Tues, Wed, Thurs getting ready for the deadline in two weeks. I’ll still have a lot of time to myself — but not so much. I get antsy (and difficult to live with), if I don’t have a certain amount of structured activity and pressure. I expect it to be a nice balance between work and play, which is what I really want, anyway.

I might even get to watch the Miss America pageant on Sunday night. Miss Oregon is a TBI survivor. She got injured in cheerleading. And that’s her platform. So, maybe I’ll get to see that.

Anyway, speaking of stress, I’ve been working out more, lately. I’m a bit sore, but not in a bad way. I’ve noticed that when I work out with intense intervals, I feel fantastic all day. Something about stressing my system triggers a energy-producing, healing response. And the inflammation goes down. My shoes fit my feet again.

I need to build that into my day more regularly. Take just a few minutes to run down to the gym during the day and work out. Get in some intense intervals — riding the bike or doing other exercises — and finish out the day on an up note. I did that the other day, and while I was pretty tired by the end of it my waking hours, I felt great at the same time.

Speaking of intermittent intensity, it’s time for me to get going to work.

I’m really looking forward to that vacation…

Onward

Wiped out and feeling great

Got home from work at a decent hour tonight – and that was after working out for half an hour and then going for a swim… in the company pool.

Yes, that’s right. They have a pool. Olympic sized with 5 or 6 lanes, and just the right temperature. And clean. Very, very clean.

I cannot tell you how good it felt to get in the water again.

Phenomenal.

Now I’m completely done. Happy – done. Very happy – done.