Oh, this is so much better

speedometer

If I hadn’t messed up my laptop the other day, it would be slower than it is right now. I had a whole bunch of crap programs running “in the background” that I didn’t need at all.

And now my laptop is much faster. Cleaner. Nicer.

So, it’s a good thing that I messed up in a small way. Because that let me fix things in a big way. Plus, I learned a bunch of new tricks for how to make my computer really work much better.

The main hurdle in my way was my anxiety and thinking that I couldn’t figure it out. But I took my time and was patient with myself and I got a good night’s rest before I managed to fix it. When I stopped worrying and just “worked the problem”, things came together for me.

Bad experience for half a day.

Good experiences to come for weeks and months and years.

Fixing what I couldn’t fix before

It’s time to replace the hydraulic lifts on my hatchback. They’ve been out of commission for several years, now, and my garage quoted me $140 to replace them. Really? A hundred and forty dollars?

Heck, the squeegee I carry with me to swipe off rainwater does the trick nicely. It’s just the right length to prop the hatch open.

But lately, I’ve become paranoid about the handle breaking. The hatch is not light — it’s a heavy sucker, and it seems to get heavier, every time I lift it up.

So, before I go out and run all my errands, I’m going to replace the lifts that I ordered online last week. They’ve been riding around in the back of my car for all this time, neatly packed in their box.

Time to do something about this. I don’t know exactly how to do it, but I know how to go about figuring it out. Then, when I’m done with that, I can get on with the rest of my day.

This is a new thing for me. I used to have so much trouble figuring out what things went in what order. As recently as 5 years ago, I literally could not figure out how to fasten a sagging curtain rod. I just sat and looked at the rod… and then got up and walked away, because the whole thing about seeing the process through from beginning to end was beyond me. So understanding what tools I needed to gather to get it done (just the correct screwdriver and a step-stool) was out of the question.

Looking back, I can’t believe it was that hard for me. But it was. Then, one day, I realized that I knew how to fix the sagging curtain rod, and I did it. In 15 minutes. Triumph.

Little by little, things like this are coming back to me. Stuff that used to baffle and defeat me, is slowly but surely becoming exercises in patience and persistence… and learning. Learning, learning, and learning some more.

Now it’s time to stop talking and get on with taking care of this  Onward.

Picking up the pieces – and loving it

Sometimes it all comes apart – so we have to put it back together again

I’m having a pretty excellent time off. It’s absolutely luxurious, to have “off” from Christmas till the Monday after New Year’s. I don’t have to go anywhere, I have no external obligations, and I can just be at home, living life the way I want to, not having to answer to anyone except my best judgment.

Not that I’ve been idle. I’ve had time to take care of a lot of things that have been languishing in the background for some time. I’ve had the chance to really think things through more deeply than ever, and get my priorities in order. I realize that I’ve spent a whole lot of time churning and being busy for its own sake, rather than being strategic and focusing my efforts on the things that would really produce something useful.

Case in point: Research projects.

I have had a number of research projects in the works over the years, and I’ve always approached them as “one-off” endeavors. I would research something, write something up about it, and then move on to the next thing. Sometimes it was a completely different field  — like the time I researched and wrote up something about the mythology of OId England, then started researching archaeological digs of the Russian steppes and wrote something up about that. I researched language and thought… then moved on to quantum mechanics… then transferred my attention to personal training and physiology.

I’ve written different things along the way, and while some of them had some good in them, none of them is anything I’d really want to put out there. The thought processes are disjointed and disconnected, and none of it is rigorous enough to be taken seriously.

All these projects were geared towards different audiences — sometimes at the other end of the spectrum. And none of them were really deep enough to deserve anyone’s attention.

I’ve been flitting from one interest to another for a long, long time, building on my knowledge in new and interesting ways, but never treating anything like it had real substance.

And small wonder. Because all those years, I was dealing with a number of issues with attention and memory, that I never knew were there. I had no idea how much fatigue affected me, and I had no idea how crappy my short-term working memory was. I mis-remembered things all the time, and I had no idea I was doing so. Even when I wrote it down and looked at it later, I didn’t realize just how off-base I was.

Having that neuropsychological assessment to give me feedback and measurements of what my real skills were, was life-changing. It transformed everything, and I’ve been piecing back together my hopes and dreams, once shred at a time. Seriously, I had all but given up hope, years ago. But there was still something in me that pushed me forward, that urged me to keep going, to keep trying, to keep on with everything. I just couldn’t quit. Just couldn’t.

I had to keep trying. Keep looking. Keep searching. Till I found the missing pieces I needed.

Now I have those missing pieces — the most important being the knowledge that I’ve sustained a number of TBIs over the course of my life, and they can and do have an impact on my thought process and how well (or poorly) my body works. When I’m having trouble with my temper because of fatigue, or I’m anxious because of light and sound sensitivity and being in pain, or I am having trouble understanding what people are saying to me, I am much more keenly aware of the reasons for all the blocks and hurdles that crop up — which means I’m much better able to deal with them.

And I do deal with them. In ways I never could before.

After all, you can’t fix things if you don’t know they’re broken. And there was a lot of broken stuff about me that needed fixing.

That broken-ness was more about process and systems, than it was about me and my essential self. It was about how I did things, not who I was. And fixing the broken stuff has made all the difference in the world.

Some people say that finding out what’s wrong, can be defeating and debilitating. I find it very freeing. Because it gives me something to work towards. I am always confident that I can find a way, one way or another. Why not? Plenty of other people do, and they’re not that much smarter than I am.

So, bit by bit, I am pulling things together, and it feels great. Spending more time thinking and strategizing, and less time on busy-work, is just the ticket for me. It’s a great way to finish up the year and start fresh with the new one.

Onward.

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