I HAVE to go for that hike today

the-journey-of-lifeI didn’t get out and hike yesterday. My business trip was catching up with me, and I also needed to catch up on some reading and writing I’ve been meaning to do.

So, I did that. And looked out the window at the world in my back yard.

Then I took a nap – 3 hours. That surprised me, because I wasn’t actually feeling all that tired, when I lay down. I just knew I needed to give it a try. And after lying there for 15-20 minutes, I finally drifted off… and woke up around the time I needed to go shop for supper.

Now I’ve got one day left in the weekend, and I absolutely have to get outside. It’s spring, dammit. And I need to take it in, already. The weather’s a bit cold, but that might discourage all my neighbors from rushing onto the roads. Or maybe it won’t. In any case, I need to at least take a quick walk on my “short” hike. That should take me an hour or less, and it will stretch out my legs, which have been quite cramped and non-active for some time now.

I’ll have my lunch, change into my hiking grubbies, and head out.

Wish me luck…

Spring is sprung, and it’s time to clean house

I’m not THIS bad off, but I could do better

That pretty much says it all. Spring is up on us, and with it comes a certain urgency with me to clean house — to clear out all the leftovers from the past year that have nothing to do with me, any more, and really put my current interests and affairs in order.

I am making the somewhat radical decision today, to not file additional federal paperwork on a project I started up last year. The paperwork would be all about registering the intellectual property of my project, and it would ensure that I have the right to sue other people for stealing my ideas.

In theory, that sounds like a good plan. It protects my rights and makes it possible for me to profit from my inventiveness and creativity.

However, in practice, it’s not very workable. Say a big company comes along and likes my idea and decides to steal it. I would need to launch a big-ass legal action on them and be willing to go through all the drama around lawyers and court appearances and filings and whatnot. I’ve had enough of courts in my past several years, and the last thing I want — even if it’s to protect my intellectual territory — is to spend any more time in court or around lawyers.

Not only would I need the right legal help, but I’d also need the time and energy to pursue all recourses, and God only knows how long that would take, and how much energy it would demand. I just don’t have that kind of bandwidth available, and the stress of it… well, that’s just not worth it to me.

I’d much rather have a good and settled life that has a good balance between challenging work and having enough time to blog on the side. That’s what I really want — to refocus my energy and attention on TBI recovery solutions, and make a positive difference in people’s lives.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. My study is chock-full of all kinds of materials — some of it junk, some of it gold. I have a ton of old bills lying around in stacks on my two desks, and I have a bunch of unopened junk mail that I thought might be interesting… but hasn’t appealed to me enough to want to open it. I’m feeling a bit blocked in, to tell the truth, and I need to free up some space for the things that matter most to me:

  • Sitting/breathing meditations
  • Stress inoculation / hardiness development (strength and endurance training in all aspects of my life)
  • Learning new things and relearning old things I lost
  • Sharing what I’ve learned so that others can benefit as well

I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to do with myself and my life, lately. I have really thought hard about my Big Project from last year, and whether I need to continue it. As much as I want to follow through as planned, upon closer examination, I now realize how much time and energy it has consumed from me, and what a source of anxiety and worry and stress it has been for me. I really learned a lot from it, but in the end, it’s really not what I want to be doing with my life, so I’m letting it go.

And when I consciously let it go in my mind, I feel this enormous rush of relief that opens up all sorts of other possibilities for me.

Like another more technical project I had started about 5 years ago, which I let go because I was having so much trouble with the work involved in making it happen. It was a good project, and I hated having to let it go, but my brain just wasn’t up to it.

My brain was too scattered, to easily distracted by all sorts of peripheral details that had nothing to do with what was actually going on. I had trouble interacting with other people, because my moods were so crazy, I would get pretty aggressive with folks, and my anxiety was out of control. It’s kind of tough to lead a project and present yourself well, when you’re a heap of frazzled nerves and you’ve got hair-trigger reactiveness. Plus, the technology I needed just wasn’t there, yet, and because of that, there were a ton of legal and federal regulation issues that were insurmountable hurdles for me, at that place and time in my life.

Now, though, the technology has matured, and I want to re-start that project. It was a good one, and the initial version of the program I wrote actually helped me with my recovery a great deal. So, I want to re-start that and take it to the next level. I have had many good ideas for how to simplify it, over the past years, and I’m ready to start again.

Which is good.

And which is why I need to clean my study. All these books and papers and bills and leftovers… There’s just so much … stuff … that I haven’t used in years, and I’m probably not going to use again. At the same time, buried under that stuff is a lot of material that I need to excavate and restart, because that is what matters most to me, and that’s where my passion lies.

Moving forward is really as much about figuring out what you don’t want to do, as it is about figuring out what you do want to do. And making the choices to NOT move forward with certain things, and to clear the decks of all those things, is a major step towards making some real progress.

Spring is in the air. And it’s time to make a new start. The winter has been long and grueling, and I’ve learned a lot of good lessons.

Now it’s time to put those lessons into action… and move forward with the best of what I have.

Onward….

 

Out of the nest and on with life

Time to get a move on

The baby robins are big enough to leave their nests now. I heard one chirping in a bush in my back yard, and I wanted to make sure it was okay (the neighbor’s cat likes to frequent my yard). Fortunately, after giving me a sour look for a few minutes, it took off flying — not the most graceful, but still flying and able to stay off the ground.

So, that’s good. Spring has given way to summer, and here we go…

I am getting ready for my second round of work, this afternoon, on one of my side projects. It’s a biggie, and there’s a big deadline coming later this week. I have folks waiting for me to finish up my pieces this weekend, so they can work on it during the week. It’s an education, working with other folks and their deadlines. I really prefer to work alone, but you can’t always get big things done when you work alone, so you’ve got to bring others into the action.

That’s what I’m doing now – bringing others in and also playing my part. It is surely an education. I’ve never done anything this big “on the side” before — it’s always been employment-related stuff that was the Big Stuff for me. Now this is a new chapter in my life. We’re hoping this idea takes off and we can get some funding for it. But who knows? I’m sure things will turn out very different from expected. In some ways better, in other ways more challenging. In any case, something will come of it. That’s for sure.

And I think of that baby robin — not looking very “together” — scraggly feathers, wary eyes, a cranking “chirp” coming from its beak every few minutes. Its flight was not graceful at all. But it got where it was going. And if it keeps going, it will continue to learn and grow and become an adult with full-fledged capabilities. In another year, it may even have its own young (tho’ I’m not sure how quickly robins mature).

Anyway, it is summer. It’s been hot. And rainy. There’s flooding in many places here and there, and the mosquitoes are particularly big and bad. So, I stay inside. And work. Step outside now and then, but mostly stay in — in the A/C. I know I should be exercising. I’m stretching a lot, these days, so that’s something.

One thing I noticed, over the past couple of months — as I have been totally focused on my work, my distractions from physical issues has dissipated somewhat. I still have rashes and dry patches of skin in unusual places. And the other night I had crazy, tear-jerking leg pain that I haven’t had in years. I’m tired a lot, and when I stop to think about it, I realize that I’ve got a lot of physical issues that are far from ideal.

But it’s not bothering me. I’m not even noticing a lot of it, to tell the truth. I’m too focused on my projects and my work. Now, in a way this might not be that great, because there could be issues going on with me that I need to address. I know for a fact I have been eating too much red meat and not enough vegetables. That probably explains the itchy patches of dry skin around my eys and neck — all the antibiotics and bad meat… I know I could eat better, for sure. And I’m making some effort to do so.

But something tells me I should be doing a little more.

One thing I AM doing, is cutting out wheat as much as humanly possible. I saw a video clip of a doctor who claims that wheat as we now know it is nothing like the wheat of years gone by, and it has a new protein in it that is not friendly to our systems. He says it contributes to diabetes, IBS, arthritis, and a host of other issues. Back a few years ago, I stopped eating bread completely — cut it out 100% and wouldn’t go near it. I felt better than I ever had — much clearer and calmer and clean-feeling. At the time, I thought it was because of the carbs, but now I wonder if it wasn’t because of just getting wheat out of my diet.

Could be. In any case, I’m making this change for myself, in hopes that this will help me. I know I need to exercise more regularly (I need to exercise, period). And I need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. I have stopped eating regular apples and I’ve started eating only organic, because of all the spray that goes on apples — and it soaks into the skin, which I always eat. I like the taste of the organic apples better, even if they are smaller. They actually taste like apples. So that’s a good change, which I need to remember I’ve made.

Because I so quickly forget.

But that’s fairly fixable. I just make myself a note, I think about my days and the progress I’ve been making. I keep records in my notebook, and I keep moving. Good things are happening. I’m out of the nest. It’s not always pretty, but I am keeping off the ground.

For today.

Onward.

 

Working my plan(s)

Got a ton of stuff done over the weekend. Sore as hell, but it’s a good sore — the kind that tells me I was productive.

Spring is definitely here, and with it comes a sudden surge in energy. The trip to see family did me good, in that it broke me out of my rut and got me thinking again about how I want my life to be, and how I need to shape it. Seeing my family members — both sides — all pretty much stuck in their status quo lives, with their resignation to “how things are” and their petty in-fighting and their self-satisfaction over “accomplishments” which are from just doing what they’ve been told to do, year after year… that was so depressing.

But it woke me up. Status quo… they can keep it. I’m much more interested in living my life, living it as an adventure rather than a task list, and really experiencing things around me — not just slogging through with “just a job” till retirement shows up.

Because to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’m going to be retiring anytime soon — probably not at all.

See, here’s the thing. I have no retirement savings. Zip – nada – zilch. I am barely keeping afloat with my everyday expenses, let alone building up some savings. Adding any money to a 401(k) or an IRA is a joke to me – I cannot afford to contribute even 1% of my earnings. Truly. So, even though much of the working world has rearranged itself to have people my age retire around age 55  (which gives me about 7 years), the simple fact is, I’m going to be working well into my 80s, maybe beyond — if I live that long.

So, the pressure is off, in terms of retirement timeline. And there’s really no reason for me to freak out over things like saving enough for retirement, paying for medication and all those other expenses that aging people accrue. Because I’m not going to stop working anytime soon. I will always have an income, doing something. And I’m fine with it.

My family members are a little horrified by the idea, but who the hell cares? They can have their retirements. They can fade into the background. They can drift away into a life of leisurely “rewards” for all the crap they’ve had to put up with, all those years.

Me? I’d rather not have to put up with the crap… be happy while I’m working (not after)… have a life I can enjoy, right here and right now… and continue to be active and engaged long into the future.

That means getting up and going. Doing. Being active. Keeping things going. And constantly re-adjusting and recalibrating as time goes on.  Not getting stuck with one set idea about How Things Should Be. It’s pointless for me to latch onto that, because it just doesn’t happen for me the way it does for others. This is not a criticism of myself, nor is it a reason for despair. This is just how things are with me – no reason to be upset or be down on myself. Just to acknowledge and adapt accordingly and really live to the max.

See, that’s the thing — everything in the world doesn’t need to be established and “perfect” and according to plan. All around me, people are so invested in the status quo, in being part of the establishment, in “playing their part” in the Big, Big World. That’s fine, but there are other things to do, and there are other ways to be, and sometimes it’s perfectly fine to be on the margins, to live the alternatives, and to walk to the edge and see what is there.

It’s like we’re all in this big boat, and most people I know are trying to stay near the center line of the boat, so it keeps its balance and it doesn’t tip over. When I am most anxious and tired and beside myself with worry, this is how I become. But there are some of us who would rather sit (or stand or climb) to the far edges of the boat, so we can have a better view. And we worry less about falling in, because we know we can swim.

I can swim. That’s for sure. And I don’t mind the edges of the boat. I don’t mind the wind in my hair, I don’t mind the mess, the spray, the salty residue that cakes on my face and hands. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Because it’s life. It’s just life. Sailing is dangerous stuff, to be sure, but I’m no good at the center of the boat. And everyone who is trying to put (and keep) me there — as much as they may mean well — is holding me back from living my life.

My family means well. Most of the people around me at work and in the community mean well. My healthcare providers mean well. They want me to be safe.

But safe is a terrible place for me to be. It’s dull and drab and it doesn’t keep me awake — literally. I’ve been hit in the head too many times — my tonic arousal (how awake my brain is) tends to be for shit, especially when I’m tired and overworked. My brain gets sleepy and it gets slow, when things are too safe and secure.

I need to be out on the edge, seeing what else is out there. I don’t need dysfunction, and I don’t need artificial drama. I need authentic, daring life that has something to offer me besides safety and security.

I need something more. Something real. Something untamed. Something leading-edge and vibrant. It’s not that I don’t want to plan my life and follow through. I don’t want some loosey-goosey flit-flitting around from one thing to the next. That’s fun, but it leads me nowhere. I need to move forward into areas that far exceed what others think or believe is possible for them — and me. I need to test waters and see what else can be done, what else can be achieved. The plans of the status quo are not for me. I need my own plans — and I’ve got them. I’m working on them. And things are coming along — not the way others envision, but the way I envision.

And with that, I’m off to start my day. We’ll see what happens. For real.

Getting the most sleep possible

If only…

A recurrent problem cropped up again last night — or, shall we say, early this morning.

I got to bed a bit later than I wanted to, last night. I was working on a project till fairly late, and then I ate late… and watched a bit more t.v. than I intended or should have. Anyway, when I went to bed, I was bushed. Just wiped. And I had an early call for work this morning, so I was between a rock and a hard place. But I figured if I timed things right, I could get a little over 8 hours of sleep, which would be good. Better than 6, that’s for sure.

The thing is, with the weather changing, I woke up at 4 a.m. really hot. I can’t sleep when I’m hot, and I need to have heavy blankets on me, or I don’t sleep very well. So, as you can imagine, when spring arrives and it starts to get warmer overnight, I can heat up.

Which I did.

So, I made some adjustments, took off some layers, and tried to get back to sleep. I wasn’t terribly optimistic, because usually when I’m awake at 4 or 4:30, then I’m UP, and that’s that. I figured I’d be taking a nap later this afternoon, since I’m working from home today, so it wasn’t that bad. But still… I really didn’t want to get behind on my sleep, because that starts a vicious cycle that is so hard to get out of.

What to do… well, first I had to stop my head from spinning in all different directions. I’ve got a project going on that is really exciting for me, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it. I started thinking about it at 4:15 a.m., too, much to my dismay. It was the right thing to think about at the wrong time. I also got into a mental “loop” over job stuff. All these things were nothing that I could anything about at the moment… and thankfully I realized that it made a lot more sense to turn off my head and come back to everything when I was rested and fresh.

But how to get back to sleep?

Well, I stretched a little bit, which always helps. I also did some slow breathing. And I turned my focus to my body, rather than the stuff rattling ’round in my head. I relaxed… really relaxed, which I realized I was not doing, when my head was going a million miles a second. I could feel the tension slip away… and then I slipped back to sleep.

I woke up with my alarm, turned it off… and went right back to sleep. I woke up three minutes before my call was supposed to start, which was a little alarming (though it was good I woke up before the call instead of after)… and then after dialing in, I learned that the call was cancelled anyway, so I could just take my time having breakfast and getting into my day.

All good.

And by my calculations, I got about 8-1/2 hours of sleep. Not continuous, but cumulative. And that’s pretty good for having all but given up hope around 4:20 a.m.

So, when it comes to sleeping, it’s pretty clear that my head can be my worst enemy. When I am wiped out, especially, I can have real problems getting to sleep (going to bed at a decent hour) and staying that way. I am very sensitive to sound, when I am over-tired, too, so if I don’t have earplugs in and there’s a noise, I can wake up over the littlest thing, with my heart pounding and my head racing. Even if it’s just a little noise, it can set me off. And then when my head gets going, I can “loop” for hours, if I let it do its thing.

Unfortunately, getting my head to stop is easier said than done. The best thing to do is just ignore it, quite frankly. Get my attention on my body, somehow — progressive relaxation, breathing, stretching… anything to get out of my head. Once I can do that, my body can rest, and a lot of times I can get back to sleep.

Even if I can’t get back to sleep, at least I can let my body relax, and that counts for a lot.

But the time for thinking about sleep is over. Now it’s time to get on with my day.

Onward!

Enemy #1 – Complacency

Am I ever glad it’s spring. It’s about damned time. I swear, I’ve had about enough of the long nights and the inhospitable winter. Of course, compared to how winters used to be in the world — before we had central heating, hot and cold running water, and the internet — I’m sure we have it pretty good.

Maybe we have it too good.  After all, if there’s one thing I noticed about this winter, it’s that an uncharacteristic complacency has set in with me. Perhaps it’s this new job of mine — the company is established, and everyone has their own routines and their ways of doing things. It’s been working for them for years, and they are regularly told by management, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” Hmm.  I have to wonder about that. I did notice, when I first started (wait – that was about 9 months ago, so I can’t really call it a “new” job – but I digress) people seemed very set in their ways and it bothered me. Then I got set in my own ways and it stopped bothering me.

Hmm. I have to wonder about that, too.

Anyway, over the past months of winter, I’ve found myself slipping into a kind of doldrum place. True, I’ve been crazy busy and I’ve been struggling to keep up, in some cases. But at the same time, I’ve felt myself “solidifying” around certain routines and ways of doing things. I’ve noticed myself making less of an effort at my workouts in the morning. I’ve noticed myself languishing longer at the beginnings of my days, and getting to work at a predictably later time of day (for the record, I stay later, so if I go earlier, I’ll end up working 20-12 hours each day, so my late arrivals are my built-in safety valve to keep from burning out). And I’ve noticed myself falling back more on eating junk food. Which means I’ve gained about 10 lbs I didn’t want to gain over the winter.

I wasn’t particularly active this winter. Maybe it was the various storms that came through, as well as the ice that built up. I’ve been very wary of falling, and I think that’s made me less interested in going outside when there’s a lot of ice. At the same time, though, I’ve let myself be more sedentary while inside, which isn’t excusable. It’s understandable, but I don’t want to sit around and understand something that really needs to be changed.

So, this morning I changed up my exercise routine and added some weight. I need to be lifting more weight — just moving the computer and old monitor around yesterday made me stiff and sore, which will never do. I hadn’t realized just how much of a lump I’d become until I started hauling equipment. Pathetic. But fixable.

I’m focusing more on the actual exercise of my routine – reading a little news, sure, but also doing more intervals on the bike. And putting more effort into my lifting. I hadn’t realized just how acclimated I was to that specific routine, till I started changing it up. Change is good, though. This is much needed.

I’m glad it’s spring. I can feel the proverbial sap rising, and all of a sudden I’m in the mood to really  DO things. Like get a new computer (which I’m still working on setting up – these things take time), clean out my home office, which has turned into a general holding area of all the paperwork I don’t feel like doing today, clear out some junk from the basement and garage, so I have room to work and make things again. It’s been a while since I made anything.  I miss it. Maybe if I get my stuff cleared out, I’ll be able to start doing that again.

I just got so complacent, I realize. Got used to things being a certain way. It’s comfortable for my anxiousness, and it’s not particularly agitating, to be doing the same things over and over. But at the same time, if I’m not challenging myself with the anxiety business, and I’m not pushing myself with my routines, I start to slide back. And that’s no good.

Complacency… yeah. It’s set in. But something else has set in, as well. Resignation. For several years, I’ve been railing against the idea that after TBI, only limited recovery is possible, and you need to just accept your limitations and not worry about being sub-self. Something in me just revolted against that with all my might, and I refused to let that possibility in.

Well, now I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to run out of steam. I get tired of working and working and working all the time, pushing myself and seeing what all is possible. I’m tired of examining myself in detail over every little thing, and I just want to live my life, already. Problem is, I can’t just live my life already, because all the stuff that I am used to doing by rote and reflex has either been screwed up in the past, or it’s gotten screwed up. Well, almost all of it. It’s impossible to say which of it has gotten screwed up, because it tends to shift and change. One minute, I’ll be fine, and the next minute, not so much.

It makes me crazy. And I just have to keep going. Because if I stop to examine what just happened in great detail (as I am prone to do), the flow gets all mucked up, and I end up even worse off than I was before. Farther behind. Struggling to keep up.

But if I don’t pay close attention to what’s going on around me, the same stuff happens. Good grief. What a huge pain in the ass.

Really, I just want to live my life.

But I can’t “just live my life” because that too often means I fall into complacency and get sloppy. And that’s not good. It’s really bad, in fact. And I can’t afford to go there.

What to do?

Well, in the first place, I need to make sure I get enough sleep. I keep harping on this, and it gets tiresome to listen to, I’m sure. But really – I need to get enough sleep. If I don’t sleep, shit starts to fall apart. I get foggy, I get lax, I get sloppy. And I become incoherent. Which is not good at work — but it’s been happening more and more lately. I friggin’ hate that. I know better, but I can’t seem to DO better. And it’s about as demoralizing as anything I can think of. Sleep is also critical for my moods. It’s tough for me to stay “up” when I’m exhausted. And when I’m feeling down because I’m tired, I eat junk food to pick myself up, so I end up gaining weight — and feeling like a steaming pile of crap as a result.

I also need to use my tools — write shit down, instead of thinking I’ll keep it all in my head (as I’ve been telling myself – stupidly) lately. When I think of things, I need to just write them down. No matter HOW convinced I am (and believe me, I am) that I’m clear about something and I’ll remember it, all too often, it just doesn’t happen. I need to pause periodically to consider what I’m doing and why, so I don’t just careen from one thing to the next (as I’ve been doing more frequently, lately)

I need to Do things now. As in, not wait for a “better” time to do them. This is so very important. All too often, life just comes up and gets in the way, and my best of intentions fly off into never-never land It’s not necessarily my TBI that does the job on me — it’s just life happening. The places where my broken brain causes problems are with the mistaken thinking that I’m going to actually get around to doing the shit that’s right in front of me.

And I need to slow down. Map out my days and make notes about the most important hings I need to get done. Truly. I need to just do some intelligent planning and not treat it like it’s a sign that I can’t manage without pen and paper. I’ve gotten away from planning my days, and it’s taking a toll. Part of the reason, I think, is because I’ve tended to get caught up in a lot of minutiae and got stuck in my overwhelming need to amass overwhelming details about Everything That Needs To Get Done. Before my last TBI in 2004, I wasn’t like this. I didn’t have a never-ending list of impossibly detailed steps for every single action I needed to take in a given day/week/month. But after my fall in 2004, suddenly, my need to micromanage everything from doing the laundry to going on vacation shot through the roof.

Lovely. But whatever modulator in my brain that was there before 2004 that knew and trusted the flow of sequential steps somehow magically disappeared. I’m not as bad as some — I have a friend who had several strokes, and they’re almost impossible to get out of the house to go down the road to buy convenience items. But I’m bad enough. And I notice it.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day. Spring is in the air, and I’ve got a new computer. I have a handful of things I need to do today, and that’s fine. I haven’t been sleeping nearly enough, but I’ll take a nap later and call it a “win”. I need to get a move on and get on with my day. I’ve gotten used to doing things a certain way over the winter, and those things need to change now. I need to get proper rest and eat proper food. Get myself moving and air out the house. Really enjoy what I have and appreciate it, and keep moving towards what else I would like to accomplish in my life.

The main thing is, I can’t let myself get down about my setbacks. I need to remember that some things are probably always going to be a bit of a chore for me, but changing how I do them is going to pay off and let me actually live my life. There are really simple things that aren’t terribly inconveniencing — like making lists and slowing down every now and then — which help tremendously. And if I do them and make the most of the tools I have, I don’t have to get stuck in a terrible place and have to dig myself out of a hole all the time.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I’m pretty frustrated with myself and my life, right now. I feel like there’s a whole lot more I should be doing, but there’s also a whole lot less I should be doing. I guess I’m just in a perpetual state of transition with my life, these days. From season to season, from project to project, from this to that… transitions have never been easy for me, even when they’ve been good ones.

I just can’t let it get to me. Accept what I must, and refuse to accept the things I’m tempted to let slide. Get a handle on my work and my life and figure out this “flow” thing. I’ll figure it out, one way or another. I just get a little tired, is all.