Well, then, get some exercise. Move.

Bangkok traffic jam with cars and trucks and motorcycles all backed up below tram lines
Feeling a bit backed up, lately

I’ve been feeling a bit down, lately. Dragging. Drab. In pain. I’ve been having some tightness around my ribcage that really hurts when I laugh. I can’t remember doing anything to myself – – no recent injury. Just maybe sleeping on it wrong.

I’ve been feeling down, too. Just a low-level depression. The Catch-22 situation with my neuropsych — if I really go into great detail about how much help I need, then I get bumped down in the proverbial pecking order and end up stigmatized (and potentially looking at higher insurance rates, on down the line, if the current health coverage changes go through). But if I don’t enumerate all the different ways I need support, I can’t ask for it. Literally, it’s Catch-22.

I think I’ll read that book again. I think I read it years ago, and I need to read it again.

I really have to take matters into my own hand, in this regard. I’m not disabled enough to require outside help to function at a basic level. That can be arranged. I have the means to do that, and I have books and information at my disposal to expand my understanding about what’s going on. I need to just do that. Take matters into my own hands, and reach out to others for help with clarification.

I’ve signed up for some free online courses about the brain. I need to stagger then, so I’m only taking one at a time. I think I’m going to use those online courses — and access to the instructors — as a professional reference point. I’m not actually getting the kind of assistance I want from the NP I’m working with now, so I’ll branch out and cover myself in other ways.

As for my day-to-day, I need to get myself back on track. I haven’t been exercising as much as I should. I’ve been locked on target with some projects I’m working on — as frustrating as it is, my work situation is keeping me busy — and I’ve been sitting too much, moving too little. I have all-day workshops today and tomorrow, which I can easily do, just sitting down all day.

That’s no good. I need to get up and move on a regular basis. I have a lot of energy, and if I don’t move, that energy tends to “back up” like a lot of traffic trying to cram its way through a narrow space.

That can be fixed, though. I exercised more today than I have been, lately, and now I actually feel better. It’s amazing, how much a bit of movement will do — especially lifting weights. Even if they’re not very heavy, still, the motion and the resistance is good for me.

I’m also working from home today, so I can walk around the house while I’m on the phone. That’s the magic of a mobile phone — it’s mobile. Tomorrow, I can walk around, too. I just need to listen in, so I can walk around the building while I’m listening. It’s not hard. I just need to do it.

And so I will.

I’m feeling better better today about my future prospects than I have been, lately. I got plenty of sleep, last night (almost 9 hours), I did a full set of exercises, I had a good breakfast, and I’ve got a path forward charted for moving forward.

I believe I can trust myself, and that I have the ability to see where I’m falling short. I trust that I can research and reach out for ideas to address issues that arise. The main thing is really to keep on top of things. Take responsibility for myself. Do what I  know I need to do. And just keep moving on.

The world’s a big place with a lot of different options. I just need to make the most of the opportunities I have, keep focused on my end goals, look for opportunities, and keep moving forward.

Will the world step up and help me with my problems? Not if I don’t ask.

Do I need other people to help me at every turn? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. The main thing is that I help myself, using what assistance I’ve gotten from others and the resources I have on hand.

I’m in a very fortunate situation, where I have the ability and the available resources (time, energy, attention, interest — even if money’s missing) to take care of myself. So, I’ll do that.

A new chapter is on the way, and I’m actually looking forward to what’s to come.

Understanding Trauma: How Stress and Trauma Cause Chronic Condition Pain, Anxiety, Depression & PTSD:

Good to be home – and figuring out next steps

That feeling of being all alone in the crowd... is shared by many
That feeling of being all alone in the crowd… is shared by many

It’s been a good week.

A challenging week.

But still a good week.

Sometimes you just need to step away to get some clarity on your priorities in life, what you want to do with yourself, how you want to do it… and perhaps most importantly, how badly you want to do it. There are some things that I’ve been meaning to spend more time on — projects that actually do look like they have good potential to widen my employment prospects, as well as bring in some money on the side.  And it’s given me more motivation to really work on them.

It’s also important to figure out what you don’t want to do, and this trip made that abundantly clear. It was a pain in the neck, dealing with all the prejudice and pressure — the prejudice that came out when people started drinking and stopped being on their best behavior, the stifling biases against women and gay people, the “jokes” about so-and-so having romantic relations with someone of their own sex, when they’re not even gay – har-har-har (not funny for gay or straight people)… as well as the constant pressure from my boss to stay up late with everyone and party, even though they know I don’t drink… and them joking about getting me drunk (I wouldn’t put it past them), which is not only stupid, it’s dangerous.

I don’t know which would be worse for me – to lose too much sleep, or to get drunk. In both cases, I can fall, which could be catastrophic. In both cases, I can get in trouble with other people, including the police. And it’s not the sort of trouble that I can just get out of easily.

When I get in trouble — I get in trouble. As in, get combative towards law enforcement and other authority figures. And at the conference, I was not shielded by local folks knowing who I am.

I was also not shielded from sensory overload — all the crowds, the noise, the lights, the big open expo hall where I was working, and the constant movement and hustle. I felt like a zombie, much of the time, and it was miserable at moments, but then I got to step away to the restroom, or to get something to eat, or walk to a quieter part of the expo hall. There was music pumping, lights flashing, constant streams of people walking by who I had to engage and hopefully bring into our booth, and it was cold in that hall. I felt like I was going to lose it, a couple of times, but I regrouped and chilled myself out by focusing on something specific – like checking my email on my smartphone.

The area that the conference was in, was crazy, too — all the lights and motion and crowds and music everywhere. It’s perfect for sensation-seeking people, but for me it was just too much. At the concert they had on the last night, I thought I was going to flip out and hit someone. I was pressed up against the very front of the cordoned-off area, with people pushing in close behind me, whistling and clapping right beside my ears, and all of them wearing some sort of perfume. I’m not terribly sensitive to scents, but when I’m tired and overwhelmed, I get that way — and yeah, I got that way. I had to leave early, when I realized that I was on the verge of punching someone — anyone. That wouldn’t have been good. Plus, there were security guards about 10 feet away from me.

So, I skipped out and got in bed by 9:30 that night. Pretty good, I have to say. Considering that I had to fly out, first thing in the morning, it was ideal.

The main thing is, I managed to make it through the week without A) drinking, B) losing too much sleep, or C) getting in trouble. I held my tongue and didn’t respond, when intoxicated people were running their mouths about stupid things. They probably don’t remember saying it, anyway. I also didn’t let it get to me personally too much. All the “frat boy” shenanigans, which I have never related to, anyway, didn’t throw me. Mercifully, “frat boy” types have usually ignored me, instead of singling me out and beating me up. So, I just kept clear of the grown-up versions of “nuggie”-giving football players, and stuck with a few other like-minded folks.

Most important of all, I made it home in one piece.

And that’s a huge accomplishment for me. Not only did I navigate all the alcohol-soaked dinners and social events without so much as a sip of booze, but I also got in bed by 9:00 p.m. on two nights… at 10:00 on one night… and not long after 11:00 on another night. All in all, I think I lost maybe four or five hours of sleep over the whole five days, which is pretty amazing, considering that my boss was telling me I had to stay out with the team till 3 a.m., and then stumble back to get a few hours rest before morning.

Yeah, it was amazing that I got out of all that B.S. in one piece.

I just wish it didn’t have to be so amazing.

Overall, though, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress and everything I accomplished. Unlike other similar conferences in the past, this time I did not freak out, I did not lose it back in my hotel room, I did not space out or check out. In other years, at these big user conferences, I was fried by the end of the first day, and I was isolated and alienated for the rest of the trips. But this time, I was all there, I was just “riding” the situation, and I got some good things out of it, as well.

My big discovery at this event is that I am actually really, really good at engaging with strangers and getting them to open up to me. I have a ton of experience and a lot of “war stories”, and when I share them with others, they open up about their own experiences.

It’s funny, because I never really thought of myself as that kind of person – outgoing and engaging – because I am such an introvert. But even introverts can be engaging and outgoing, when we are in the right situations. And in fact, I was interacting with a lot of introverts, myself — one of whom was pretty drunk at 11:30 in the morning on the last day of the conference… probably completely overwhelmed like I was, and using the mini-bar in their room to ease the pain.

Yeah, it was overwhelming. But I made it through.

I realized some new (and important) things about myself and the kind of work I want to do. I also realized the kinds of things I can do, that I never thought I was good at, before.

So, that’s helpful. Despite the challenges, I still got a lot out of the experience.

So, that’s something.

Boy, oh boy, is it good to be home!

All positive, most of the time – it’s a goal

Keepin' positive! :D
Keepin’ positive!  =:D

My new neuropsych is very, very different from my last one. They seem to relish the work of coming to terms with loss and pain and all that stuff. Ouch.

This is a very, very different focus than I had with my last neuropsych.

The last doctor I was working with really kept the emphasis on staying positive and not getting myself mired in all kinds of perceptions about misfortune. And while I did find that focus a bit annoying at times — considering how much difficulty I was having with some things — now I realize just how useful it was.

And I need to set that tone with my new NP.

It’s so very, very important for me to stay positive throughout my days, and not allow myself to wallow. It’s just not healthy, and it doesn’t do much for me. If anything, it just drags me down for days on end.

I’ve spent too much time getting mired in all that old stuff. And no matter how hard I work at “coming to terms with it”, that doesn’t change the fact that it happened, that it sucked, and that it hurts.

I’m not saying I’m into avoiding it or never facing it. I just don’t see the point in making it the central part of my life. It was, once upon a time, for far too long.

Now I need something completely different.

So, onward.

Not myself, this past month or so

I hate to admit it, but for the past month or so, I haven’t felt like myself. That is, the self that I had come to know myself to be, over the past years… the self I had trained myself to become — and to notice.

I’m not whining about it. I just need to go on record, so I remember it later. Not all is hunky-dory, and I’ve spent an awful lot of time masking all this and keeping myself from thinking too-too much about it. That’s counter-productive. I hate hearing myself talk about what’s wrong, but I need to be aware when things are not ideal, so I can do something about it.

I haven’t got time right now to chronicle everything I am doing to address these issues, so for now, I’m just going on record.

Lately, I’ve felt like things are unraveling… starting back in September when my PCP died, and the only doctor I ever felt comfortable with was gone forever.

Then in October came the announcement that the company I work for is being acquired, and all the assumptions and plans I had about my future (going back to school, getting my degree, staying on there until I could finally retire)… that all became incredibly tenuous.

Then in November my neuropsychologist tells me that they’re retiring this coming spring, and the one working relationship I’ve ever had with anyone who didn’t make fun of me or treat me like there was something wrong with me when they simply didn’t understand, suddenly got an expiration date.

The car needed a couple thousand dollars of repairs over Thanksgiving, and my bank started warning me that I was low on funds.

And then in December I find out there will be layoffs, and I and my group barely missed being cut. Someone I really depended on for advanced technical support got laid off, so now I’m sorta kinda hung out to dry, in one respect.

It’s just been a heck of an end of the year.

At least my spouse and I are reasonably healthy (aside from some nasty colds — knock wood), and we’ve had no other calamities. But piece by piece, some of the main supports I’ve been relying on, have been removed.

I guess it’s time to find new ones.

And it’s been strange. I haven’t really felt like myself for over a month. I’ve been a lot more on edge, blowing up more at my spouse, getting confused and disoriented at work. At Thanksgiving time, I was balancing between completely losing it and letting off very controlled bursts of angry steam. And while I’ve rarely been a real Christmassy kind of person, this year especially I just haven’t been in the mood. The weather has been strange, but after the absolutely sh*tty winter we had last year, I don’t care that it’s going to be warm and sunny on Christmas Day. That’s this Friday, and, well, it can come and go, for all I care.

I just don’t feel like myself. Nothing seems worthwhile, and in all honesty, the only thing that brings me total satisfaction is trapping the mice in my basement. I rigged up several traps on a little ledge where I’ve seen them run in the past, and I’ve caught four of them, so far. I have a feeling I’ll be trapping all the mice in the neighborhood, by the time all is said and done, because my garage is not very well sealed, and I’ve seen them come in through gaps in the trim. Right in front of me. Brazen.

Well, now those little brazen bastards are getting dead. And while I do feel pang of quasi-Buddhist regret that I’ve taken a life, I do NOT feel regret that these creatures aren’t running amok through my basement. I figure, I’m releasing them to their next incarnation — just speeding up the cycle of life for these rodents.

It’s not the death that appeals to me. It’s the yes-no, success-failure, instant gratification of seeing that at least something I’ve done is working. It’s basic. It’s primal. And I’m managing to successfully defend my castle against at least some maruaders.

I just wish I felt more like myself, instead of being shaky and tired and disoriented and prone to error. I’m spaced out, a lot of the time, I feel like I have more on my head than I can handle, and while I’m sure things will be fine and I’ll be able to handle whatever comes along, it’s still tiring, and I feel like I’ve lost my mooring.

Maybe I have. Maybe I have.

I just have to get it back, I guess. It’s now officially winter, and I’m ready for it. I just want to hibernate, go underground, and maybe that’s what I’ll do, more or less. The last several months with the company change have been very chaotic and unsettling for myself and everyone at work. It’s next to impossible to make any plans, and nobody knows what the criteria are for deciding who stays and who goes. Nobody can give us any clue, either, because that might tip their cards, and everyone might just take matters into their own hands, and then the deal might fall apart.

So, hibernation (figuratively speaking) might be the best thing to do. Keep everything simple and lay low. Cut back on social media (which I have). Stop reading the news (which I must). Concentrate on what matters most to ME (not the rest of the world). And focus on the basics — eating right, exercising regularly, and doing things that appeal to me and that I love and which also make a constructive contribution to the rest of the world.

I also need to get back to dealing with the logistical issues that come up with me. Sensory issues are problematic — light and sound and touch have been giving me problems. I’m dizzy a lot — almost fell over the other day for no good reason. I’m space-out, foggy, and I feel a split-second delayed, though that could be a symptom of me still being sick. I have problems typing, and my handwriting is a mess. I skip the first letters of words while I’m writing in long-hand, which is a new one for me. My temper is short, I’m getting “snappier” than usual, and I have bouts of intense depression. And lately, the headaches are back, along with the episodes of sudden pain shooting through my head, followed by feeling dull and out of it.

But hell if I’m going to take that Imitrex. F*ck that sh*t. Talk about feeling spaced-out… I feel bad enough as it is, without adding medication to it.

So, I do my breathing exercises and get my head out of a stressed-out space, and it helps a bit. It also helps to ignore it and just get on with my life. But the headaches are getting intrusive, again, and when people like my chiro or my massage therapist ask me about them, it just irritates me, because the things they do for me don’t actually seem to help all that much, but they’re so convinced that those things are The Ticket. It’s nice that they try, and I know they want to help, but there’s nothing that seems to really Work for me. Not these days.

And trying to explain that to them is a pain in my ever-lovin’ ass. People get so sensitive and offended and frustrated when I tell them what they do is not working. No science, no tweaking their approach. Just getting irritated and frustrated — and keeping on doing the same thing as before. So, I quit saying anything. Because even when I try to explain, it doesn’t help.

It’s the classic tension between what appears to be, what people think really IS, and what my experience of things is. And that fragmented collection of disconnects makes me absolutely crazy.

That, and the fact that my weekly schedule is about to change, with my neuropsych seeing me on Fridays at noon, instead of Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.  Argh! Change! I hate it!  And I hate that it makes me so unsettled. I wish it weren’t so.

But bitching about it won’t change anything. I just need to get on with my life.

My new mantra: Screw it. Onward.

No harm, no foul

You don't have to be a pushover to do no deliberate harm
You don’t have to be a pushover to do no deliberate harm

Okay, I’ve disconnected this blog from my Twitter account, so that makes things simpler. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… they all have their different rules for how to format your writing so that you can get visibility, and I just don’t have the time (or interest) for doing anything special, other than writing.

I have no desire to accommodate other “platforms”. I have no desire to use/create hashtags, so I can be in on the larger conversation. The larger conversation tends to not be a conversation at all — rather, a shouting match. Especially with all the events of the past week.

Count me out of that particular exchange.

What we need now, more than anything, is a lot less yelling, a lot less attacking, a lot less blowing people up over differences of opinion. Whether it’s literal or metaphorical, trying to destroy other people never, ever has the intended results. If anything, it just makes things worse and perpetuates the exact problems we’re grappling with, to begin with.

It’s just common sense that a living, breathing human being who is attacked, is going to strike back. So, why would we think that attacking our enemies — even with a superior show of strength — is going to settle the matter?  Those attacks can be with bombs or words or social policy, but in whatever form, they strike at the humanity of others and threaten their existence.

What do people do when you threaten them? What do they do when you humiliate them? What do they do when you blow them and their families up? They fight back. Of course they do. We do it, too. No self-respecting individual or culture is going to just roll over because someone overpowers them at one point in time. Things change. Power shifts. Someone takes control of an arsenal of weapons that used to belong to someone else, and the balance of power shifts against whoever was the aggressor, the last time.

Fantasizing that it’s anything different from that, is not helping, in the current “wartime” situation.

All our our intentions to “settle the matter once and for all” do nothing of the kind. What do we think? That others are just going to sit back and say, “Oh, you’re right – you’re much stronger than we are, so we’re not going to do anything to you anymore!  You’re the MAN!!” ….? Have we lost our minds? No self-respecting individual is going to do or say that — and mean it. They may pretend to surrender, they may retreat for a while, but they’ll be back later to try to hurt us again. And there will be someone out there who’s willing to sell them all the right weapons to do exactly that. That’s just human nature, and anybody who thinks that shock-and-awe force will “settle” any issue for all time, has not been paying attention to, oh… just a few millennia of human experience and history. Even looking at the past 20 years will show you that.

Of course, if you’re in the arms business, life is pretty sweet, right now. So, it’s not all bad — for some people, anyway. I’m sure there are plenty of mutual funds out there that are invested in arms manufacturing, which means all the retired school teachers and civil servants and countless folks drawing on their 401(k)s can avoid eating dog food and living in a cardboard box under an overpass for at least a few more years. It’s all interconnected, and we’re all complicit in this arrangement. As long as any (all) of us are benefiting from our perpetual state of war, there’s only so much we can say about it. Even if you move off the grid, you’re still probably going to be using things that were created, thanks to the system we all live in. So, none of us is without blame in creating this situation.

Of course, I’m never going to convince the People In Charge that running around blowing up your opponents is going to solve anything. Everybody who talks in these terms just looks like a bit of a passive, utopian twit on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or whatever social media outlet they prefer. In these days of escalation, anyone who talks about de-escalation seems soft and out-of-touch with the necessities of the situation. Blinded. We’re all blinded by trauma and passion, and even though I agree with the words posted about how to relieve conditions of war, all those pictures of East-Asian gods and goddesses and the Dhali Lama just make me angry.

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing for me to do is get out of my head. Get out of my fear and anxiety, to just get on with my life. Get active. Live my life. Live it fully. Don’t sit and stew. Get going and take positive action.

“No harm, no foul,” seems like a pretty good philosophy and life approach to me.

It’s about not letting myself be harmed by what others do. They will do what they please, and they won’t necessarily give a damn about how it affects me. It’s often up to me, to decide what I’ll do with the experience — if I’ll get carried away by insult and perceived hurt, or if I’ll let it slide and get on with my life. There are many, many things that are done “to” me, that I can either notice and turn into a terrible offense… or I can just ignore them as moments of stupidity that mindless people are doing because they don’t know any better. It’s my choice, what I do with all that.

Probably the best thing that anyone can do these days, is do no harm. That, and make a positive difference in the world. Pay close and considerate attention to what’s going on around you, so you can be strong from moment to moment. Be alert to opportunities to be a little better at what you do than you were, just a moment before. So many things are happening at a “macro” level that are beyond our influence and understanding. There is so much we do not know, so much we cannot control.  What we can control is how we relate to others… how we take care of ourselves… how we mind our own behavior and keep it as clean as possible.

There is only so much we can influence, on a day to day basis. But the things we can influence for the better, could make all the difference in someone’s life, or a troubling situation that has the possibility of escalating.

I have to admit that, for myself, I bear a lot of responsibility for having caused others harm. Many times in my life (usually shortly after a TBI, or later on because of brain injury and PTSD), I struck out and harmed others. I broke things. I attacked people. I did my share of damage, being deliberately hurtful — because I, myself, was in pain. For many, many years, this went on. Hurting people — family, friends, loved-ones… saying and doing the kinds of things that were intended to cause pain — to make sure I wasn’t the only one who was hurting.

I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing, when I was doing it. And while I was doing the damage, I believed I was entitled to do it, because, well, I was hurting. And I needed some relief. Hurting others was the only way I knew how to relieve that pain, that hurt. It was the only way I could figure out how to not be the only one in the room in excruciating  discomfort.

And it took a toll. It trashed so many friendships, so many relationships that have not been able to recover in many, many years — even after I got my act together. There is little to no trust between myself and some of my siblings. There are old, once-close friends I have not spoken to in 25 years. There were family members who had to turn their backs on me, for their own sake, and who died before I could make amends. My past is littered with broken relationships and fractured trust. I am still paying for it, and some debts I will never get to repay.

Which is why I now feel like the best thing I can do, really, is be kind. Be gentle. Be generous. Be strong. Be fierce, when it’s called for, but don’t let that be my default mode. There’s a difference between being a pushover, and standing your ground firmly  with a disarming smile on your face. The people who can do the latter are the true bad-asses of the world.

And that’s what I strive for: To stand firmly, but to not let others get the better of me because I’m an easy mark. Also, to not be a mindless jerk who unconsciously messes with other people. Being aware of my surroundings and responding as who I am, rather than what the situation turns me into, is a true martial art. Being able to absorb the hits of the world, and not fall to pieces… not take it out on others… that’s my ideal. When I can do that — just let the world be its crazy place, deflect its blows,and keep going with my life, calm and collected — there need not be any blood, there need not be any foul.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

It just means that I don’t hurt others, as a result of my own pain.

It’s a goal, anyway.

Onward….

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.  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.  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.

A little pain… for a lot of gain

The more you put into things, the more you can get back
The more you put into things, the more you can get back

Sorry in advance for the rambling nature of this post. I’m very out of it — haven’t been sleeping well, and lots has been going on.

I’ve been watching videos and listening to podcasts by Dr. Rhonda Patrick while I work out, lately, and I’m learning a lot – especially about the biochemistry of the brain and how to augment it. She talks a good deal about brain health, nutrition, exercise, the benefits of sauna, and hormetic stress (where you introduce a bit of stress to your system to kick in adaptive responses that actually make your system stronger).

I’ve been a big believer in the hormetic approach for years – stress inoculation fascinates me, and hormesis really appeals to me, as well. And then you have the Stoics, who were all about training your system to not get worked up over the things that don’t matter, so you can better attend to the things that do.

It’s just common sense to me, and it’s great to find people online who are on the same wavelength.

I got a good dose of stress yesterday. But it looks like it’s going to pay off in a big way.

I’m kind of wiped out today. Yesterday I bought a new (to me) car — it’s a small 2006 SUV that lets me sit up higher than I have been in my little compact commuter car. It’s got everything I need — which is not terribly much. The biggest change is that it has power locks and windows, as well as A/C. My old car has crank windows, manual locks, and no A/C, and it rides very low to the ground. It hasn’t been a huge problem, over the past 10 years that I’ve had it, but when it’s been a problem… it’s been a problem. There’s only so much you can do on hot-hot days — and when you’re driving through the heat to important appointments, stopping along the way to pay tolls or just get out and stretch your legs, not having any A/C or power windows and locks and having to climb in and out of your car, can be pretty taxing.

In a way, it’s been good for me. It’s forced me to work at things that others take for granted. And it makes me appreciate luxuries like a good view of traffic and air conditioning, all the more.

But it’s also been a pain. Literally and figuratively. It’s so low, that I had to build up the seat with folded towels and a pillow, to keep my hips and legs from cramping in excruciating pain.

It’s become increasingly clear to me that I need a “grown-up” vehicle. And I got one on Saturday. I now have a car payment, after 10 years of being free of that. So, that’s a change. But with the money I’m saving on insurance and other cost savings at work, it’s not going to sting terribly much. It’s going to set back some of my home improvement projects, but that’s okay. I needed a new car.

So, today I need to clean out my old car, find the title to hand over (I’m trading it in for a pittance – but then again, there are a ton of issues with the vehicle that all add up to thousands of dollars of work), get the garage cleared up, so I have a place to park, and make sure money is in the right account(s). I have to shuffle a bit of dough between the mortgage account and the everyday expenses account, which I’ll take care of later this morning when my bank opens at a local supermarket. I love these 7-days hours. It really saves my bacon.

Anyway, that’s the excitement. I’m pretty wiped out from yesterday, because it took a lot out of me. And then I found some pieces of furniture that were on sale at an antiques place for a fraction of what they usually cost. That involved more running around, making arrangements to move them, etc. I got them home, at last, and I need to clean them up in the coming days. But that may need to wait till next weekend when I have the house to myself for 3-4 days.

With all the activity that’s been going on, I am really looking forward to a few days of solitude and peace. As much as I love and adore my spouse, they are a lot of work, and it’s going to be great, not being the one and only person who has to do all that work.

It will also be nice to catch up with myself and kind of level-set on my life. Getting this new car is like another piece of proof that I am getting better, and that I have something to show for all the work I’ve done. I’ve had this car about as long as I’ve been struggling with TBI issues after my fall in 2004, and there are many, many parallels between driving that car and keeping it on the road, and recovering from TBI. All the challenges, the difficulties, the extra work I’ve had to do… It’s been very much like driving a car without any power controls or A/C or reliable heat, and needing to go about your everyday life.

Getting this new (to me) car is yet another sign that I really am getting better, and that I am able to recognize and enjoy that for what it is — real progress. And that’s hugely gratifying.

Best of all, the vehicle is rich gold color, which makes me feel rich in countless ways.

Well, it’s turning out to be another beautiful day. I think I’ll go for a walk in the woods before I run my banking errands.

I physically feel like crap from being so wiped out from yesterday, but I know things are going great, so that balances it out. And I’m hoping a walk in the woods will clear the cobwebs.

Onward.

Yes, indeed, onward.

They say it’s the brain, but it’s also the body

It's ALL connected
It’s ALL connected

TBI can seriously mess you up in the head. That’s a given.

But it can also seriously mess with your physiology.

In fact, out of all the problems I’ve had over the years, the physical issues I’ve had have far outweighed the cognitive ones – if anything, they contributed to my cognitive and behavioral issues.

  • Fatigue – bone-crushing, spirit-sapping exhaustion;
  • Problems keeping my balance, which messed with my moods.
  • Heart rate increase – or decrease, as well as blood pressure changes.
  • Light and noise sensitivity.
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Sensitivity to touch, which really messed with my head, as well. Imagine never being able to have human contact… it’s not much fun.
  • Constant adrenaline rush that wired me out, something fierce.

When your brain gets injured, it can affect your whole body. Because as we know, the brain is mission control for the rest of the works below the neck.