December 27. I’m having one of those early morning awakenings when I can’t fall back to sleep. It was better for me to get up rather than lay in the dark with dark and unpleasant thought and feelings. It is 7:00 am an -12℃ outside. I’m on my second cup of tea, have scrolled through social media and played today’s Wordle. It would be better if I could skip the scrolling but it’s become part of my morning routine for waking up.
Surprisingly, my bad thoughts and feelings dissipated with my rising, turning on the lights, brushing my teeth and having my cups of tea. I am surprised only because I have been/am paying attention to when these moods come and go. They had been more frequent in the past. I like to think that I now have a better handle on them. Even though I know better and that I am not alone, I feel alone. I know I am not a failure but feel so in these times.
So this is the nature of my beast. I have accepted and befriended it. I am becoming a scientist in its investigation. I wonder how I can use it for my betterment instead of detriment. For one thing, it has made me realize that I can control it. I am not at its mercy. It has driven me to seek not only the why of its existence but also ways to work with it so that life can be as easeful, pleasant and meaningful as possible. I’m seeking ways of being kinder to myself with less self blame.
It is not the best time to be a think tank when I am being squeezed by my beast. My brain is in a thick fog. It would’t be able to figure out how to get out of a wet paper bag. The best activities for me would be to clean anything – like wash the dishes, floors, windows. I can still draw pretty good in these moods. Tapping out the words and moods is soothing and comforting. Cross country skiing is my newest, most fun and effective tool. My mind and senses are fully occupied. There’s no room for dark and ugly thoughts.
This is it, all that I’m able to write today. I had fallen off my writing wagon for a week. A week ago, I was bright eye and bushy tailed. A week ago it was sunny and bitterly cold, in the -30s ℃. But I felt oh so well. I feel better now just remembering how good I felt. I will hang on to the memory. My spirit dipped on December 24 when it got cloudy and up to -16℃ overnight from -34℃. We’re in for a stretch of clouds and snow ahead. I’m geared to make my own sunshine.
December 2. Good evening. It is another day. I am happy again. How it came about, I don’t know. I feel as if my heart got a gentle shower of energy and converted back into happiness rhythm. I am grateful. It pays not to give up and give in to my moods. I did not fight them but accepted them for whatever they are. I gave them their space for they are a part of me. Perhaps I need them to do better and be better than what I presently am. I can become static and dull with contentment.
My moods are my friends. Without them, I might not push myself outside for my daily ski. Movement and exercise calms my restlessness and irritability. They help me to sleep at night. No matter how cloudy or grey the day is, it is always brighter outside. Cross country skiing is just the ticket for me. It gets me out. Sheba used to do that before she went to dog heaven. I have many happy memories of us running and jumping for joy on the frozen river.
Now I have my ski in the park instead. I seem to thrive in the cold. l’m out most days. I was out today in – 25℃. It did not feel cold. Instead I felt pumped, breaking trail again through fresh fallen snow. I am challenged and excited learning a new physical skill. I’m getting better and stronger, making a straighter track. I went once around the park, twice around, then three. It was just me, the trees and the snow. It was quiet and serene. It was heaven.
I have days when I fall into foul and dark moods for no explicable reasons. I’ve never questioned the validity of my feelings till lately. When I asked myself, Why do I feel so angry and pissed off? I could find no good reason. A poor sleep aggravates my dourness greatly. Faced with that knowledge, I had to ask myself a more important question. How do I get myself out of this fix?
It’s not good to sit with these feelings. They tend to mushroom and grow bigger and darker. One of the ways that works for me is coming to this writing space to air my angst, known and unknown ones. The rhythmic tapping on the keyboard soothes and smooths the wrinkles in my brain. I’m flossing my nervous system. If flossing works for sciatica and other conditions, it should work for my brain angst, too. Of course the exercise technique is different for each malady. It’s up to me to pay attention to what works for me.
I’m able to come out of myself a bit tapping for a solution to a problem. My attention, thoughts and feelings are redirected to a different direction. I’m not locked in. It’s not just about me. The world is a big place. There is the whole universe. The Queen has died. While I am not a royal follower, I enjoyed watching her committal service on YouTube. I was fascinated by the colours and pageantry and it’s happened in my life time. It’s quite remarkable. It really brought me out of the doldrums. How could I stay immuned to life and joy watching it all? I might sound paradoxical since it was a funeral. But to me it was a joyful celebration of a life well lived.
I do not have to understand why I fall into my moods. Usually I blame the weather and how it changes. It’s better than blaming myself. The important thing is being aware of : 1)When do they happen? 2)Can I avert them? 3)What can I learn from them? 4)Are they all bad? I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my moods. How boring life would be if there was no ups and downs, with just one flat line. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of bungee jumping or skydiving.
It’s Friday, Chinese AirForce Day, as someone once called it. I took the bait and asked why. He said, It’s F-l-y-day. Would you call that a racial slur? Anyways, I chuckled like a good agreeable Chinese woman. I wasn’t offended, honest. I’m a little sleep deprived. I couldn’t sleep past 3 this morning. I hate it when that happens. And it does occasionally, especially when the weather shifts. I whine about the weather alot. Not only it disrupts my sleep but also my moods.
There’s alot I could whine about but I’m too tired. My edginess have worn off and I’m pretty mellow. My AM Energizer class certainly helped. My serotonin level was further elevated by lunch with the “YWCA” girls, our first in 2 years at the Parktown. We had a good time but we do miss the buffet which is no more. So many changes in 2 years. The diningroom was mostly empty except for us. It was a good and bad thing at the same time.
I am just poking along here, keeping up with my routines. I have just finished reading Naomi Judd’s book, River of Time and watched Ashley Judd speaking to Diane Sawyer about her mother’s suicide by a firearm. So sad! I have to be careful that I don’t dwell on all this too much. I am not emotionally fragile but vulnerable. Having experienced depression myself, I admire and have great respect for Naomi and her two daughters. Life is hard and messy and their lives certainly were. Wyona described it perfectly when she said they literally went from the shit house to the White House. What a journey and what an adjustment. Now they have more to adjust to. River of Time is a worthwhile read.
I am happy to say that I have a handle on my moods. Knock on wood. I have worked very hard every day to maintain good mental health. I have read countless books on the subject. I’ve put what I’ve learned to practice. One of those was getting Sheba. She took me out of the house and out of my bad moods. I got a heavy dose of nature and exercise. We went out rain, snow or sunshine. We were more regular than the mailman. Now she’s gone but she’s prepared me well. She certainly had earned her keep. I love her forever – then and now.
So..I’m experiencing a low grade kind of the blues. It’s the kind of nibbles on the edges of my mind, keeping me a bit uncomfortable, feeling guilty, feeling selfish. It’s whispering to me that I can do more, be more of this and that. It’s kind of convincing though not necessarily the truth. I thought it best I come here and toss things around like you would a salad. The heavy stuff tend to sink to the bottom. I like to bring some of them up to the top. I like to have a good look at them.
I had to get another cup of tea, of course, and have a scroll through social media and star gaze a little. Not that I am such a fan of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urbane. I’ve seen some of her movies but I’ve never listened to his music. I like Johnny Depp as an actor, but he is kind of a scary dude with a sinister smile. And all those rings! I bet they can cause serious damage if they connect with your face. I’ve never heard of Amber Heard before this but I believe her. I am really surprised at how much support Johnny Depp is getting and how much trashing Amber is getting, even from women. But enough of this movie stars shit. What about me?
Yes, what about me? I’m trying not to let my moods and feelings interfere with life. I am listening to them and giving them due respect. The thing is no matter how I feel, I still have to get up, dress up and show up. No matter what, I would feel better if I wash my face, brush my teeth and fashion my hair in the morning. I’m really wisening up – late. It’s better than never. I could save myself time and angst if I develop some good followup habits. What do I mean? Okay, some examples:
meditate every moring to clear my mind. It helps to keep distraction to a minimum.
complete each task and put everything back in place before moving on
write down reminders
do what I can today rather than tomorrow
throw out things that are of no use today rather than tomorrow
make a daily schedule of what needs/want to do
schedule regular write times here. So I will show up here Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. They coincide with my aerobic exercise classes. They will be my whining times to get things off my chest, to hatch new ideas, to mark my progresss.
I think this is enough for today. Best keep it short and not overwhelm myself. Too much could and would throw me off track. I have successfully tossed my salad. The weighty stuff dealt with and nothing nagging on the edges of my mind. No voices whispering in my ear.
I’m on my second cup of tea, awaiting the snow storm. Perhaps it is a little early yet but the sky is steely grey. The sun is trying, a brisk breeze is stirring up the beautiful dead growth on the living roof of the shed. I flunked all 6 tries on Wordle. Now to make something of the day. Some days are easier than others. I’m hitting the not easier days. That’s how the cookie crumbles.
I know that this, too, will pass but what can I do in the meantime? There are many things that I could do. I just don’t feel like doing them. I don’t feel motivated, excited. Nothing grabs me. Nothing is wrong but everything feels bland and grey like cold, dirty dishwater and today’s sky. I guess I can pout and have a tantrum but what will that do? I can also do nothing and become more sodden. I’m sure that will lead to more boredom and misery. Better that I do a Suck it up, Buttercup and go through the motions -even if I don’t feel like it. That’s the penalty of being an adult.
I find it helpful to ask myself How does it feel? now and again. It is a good way of working through and out of my stresses and blahs. I’m not feeling so grey now, finding a hook to hang on to. It’s soothing tapping on the keys, making words and sentences. It builds me up as I find ways out of my blandness. I don’t need to hurry. I can take time, linger and savour these moments sitting here. It is rewarding to work and find a purpose, a reason to be.
This morning we went and got our fourth Covid vaccine. It was something we could do to help maintain our health. We made a couple of stops on the way home. One was to a mall to mail some letters and to buy mousse for my hair. I made a trip to the washroom while I was at it. It has been a long time, 2 years since I made a walk through the mall. I couldn’t remember where things were, having to follow the signs at first. There’s much change. Seems a bit silly but I was so happy to see the food court. The washrooms were just a hallway down. A flood of memories came rushing back – coffee with my mom and dad at the mall after our visits to the library. Such simple things can make me happy.
Our second stop was the library to return read books for different ones. It is snowing and the wind is howling. I am hunkered down snug as a bug with books to read, drawings to be drawn and splashed with paint. Oh, I have Hong Kong milk tea and barbecued pork buns from the Chinese store for treats. I am at ease. I am no longer stressed or feeling bland. Perhaps I was feeling the approach of the storm. I am such a weather vane.
December 15th. Winter solstice is just a week away. I had good intentions of being here regularly but I’ve only shown up twice. Bad on me! Intentions don’t mean beans when they’re not kept. But I am here now. My moods still can turn on a dime. The difference now is I know the exact instant they do. I pull out my tools and do an inquiry. I’ve read enough of Byron Katie’s The Work. I know to ask the 4 questions:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it is true?
How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
Recognition of the moment gives me an opportunity to pause and to take note. I don’t have to react and behave in old patterns. I can choose how it is that I want to behave, therefore changing the way I feel. I tell myself that because this is new, I might not feel comfortable or good immediately or even soon. It will take time to gel. I tell myself it is a new adventure, a new skill like learning how to cross country ski, ride a bike, to swim, to make sourdough….
Going toward the shortest day of the year is a grand adventure this year. I’m thinking of the darkness as a warm nest wherein we can rest and sleep. Then we can emerge on the other side, rejuvenated and ready to face the lengthening days as we progress towards spring and all that it promises.
I am feeling somewhat despondent off and on these days. I am not fighting it but I am not letting it overtake me either. I am still able to not rain on another’s parade. I am not at all full of vim and vigor. I am full of languor. I would like to just sink into a puddle. I don’t. I plod along as best as I can. It takes me longer to do anything. I am not saying, this, too, shall pass or this is normal. Nothing feels normal any more. It is not a bad thing. It makes me look at life with new eyes. I still have the passion for a well-lived life.
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without that thought?
They are very good questions to ask. I should ask them more often. They made think about how I would be without my thoughts and feelings of despondency. They stirred me enough to show up here to engage in some words. I had fallen somewhat out of love with them lately. I had lost a sense of purpose for them. I started to question, what does it matter anyways? Who reads them anyways? Then I remember that I write mostly for myself, to help and guide me out of these moods. So I ask myself: How would I be without these thoughts and feelings?
I would be more cheerful and positive. I would have a sense of purpose and direction. I would have more energy. I could move and not be stuck and mired in thoughts and feelings. I could get things done. I experimented and tested letting go. Did I tell you I finally called the plumber and got the kitchen drain unplugged? Well, I did. And everything went whoosh down the drain. More than a few dollars went that way, too. I thought: Do I want to hang onto those dollars and sewage or can I let them go. I have to admit fixing the plumbing is one of the most satisfying feelings in life.
I am feeling a bit better, more lively, but not ready to do a jig yet. I got a few ugly jobs done, like chucking out some Jerusalem artichokes fermenting in brine from last year. The thing with storing things out of sight is they become out of mind. They did pop up in my head once in a while but I quickly banished them. Today I brought them out into the light. They weren’t terrible looking but they weren’t pretty either. They were soggy with a layer of white stuff on top. They say that it’s normal when fermenting vegetables. They are now in the compost.
The kombacha was next on my list. I can’t remember when I had stop drinking and making it. I had a few jars sitting under my kitchen buffet. In one jar, the kombacha became a scoby. It was still viable. The next jar had completely dried up, including the scoby. I had to soak and scrape it out. My biggest jar still had some very strong kombacha with bunch of scobies. My first impulse was to rid it all but then I thought I shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water. So I saved one scoby and 1/3 cup of kombacha, brewed some fresh tea to make a new batch. I will see how it turns out. Maybe it will be delicious. Life is hard.
These may not be the best of times. It certainly is the strangest of times. Most of all, it is the only time we have. I’m trying to find a way to make the most of it. I’ve been a little frustrated, irritated, a little angry, a little up and a little down, feeling the whole kaleidoscope of emotions. Today I’m feeling more at ease and relaxed. I’ve come through the clouds though it is a cloudy day. No sun at all but it is a mild December day. It is -1 degrees Celsius. It is cooler in the greenhouse, -1.6.
I’ve been frustrated with my clutter, my inefficiency. It seems I’ve been working at it for years. Or have I? I’m probably just spinning in my tracks, going nowhere. I have Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear on my Kindle app. Maybe it’s time for me to open it and follow it daily. The chapters are in weeks and within days. Surely I can tackle a single day at a time. It will be good training for my errant brain. I really have difficulty concentrating and doing things step by step in order. I often skip the middle of the book and read the ending. I am impatient. I can’t tolerate/enjoy the whole process. Often I don’t make it back to read the whole story.
I’m practicing on being more patient, tapping slowing and patiently on my keyboard. Sometimes my thoughts race ahead of my fingers. It’s torture to proofread but I will start to do that from now on. I’m good at figuring out computer glitches. I tap here and there until everything works. I can’t tell you how or why though. That’s what my brain is like – a mess of synapses snapping away. Order inside and out is what I desire. I will put that down on my list on my Notes app.
The day has progressed into evening. I will shut it down soon. I have opened A Year to Clear. I will take the time to work through the days and weeks. I am taking this week to relax into the process and to reflect on what it is that I want to clear and what to keep. It is not just about stuff. My mind is as cluttered as my dining room table. I will take it slow and easy. I have a whole year ahead.
Monday morning coming down. May 11th, the calendar pages are advancing. The sun is out shining bright. My day has started. Breakfast over and done with. I’ve shaped my sourdough loaves. They are chilling in the fridge. They can chill up to 24 hours. The longer they stay, the tastier and more stable they get. That is what they say. Maybe I will wait to bake them tomorrow morning and test out the theory.
My Sheba and I are growing old together. She has a little more white than I do. Her hips are worse off, too, giving her trouble these last couple of weeks. I try not to feel too bad or sad when I see her stumble. She still loves her walks and able to go up and down the deck stairs. There’s a few more things I can do to help her like doing range of motion on her hips. She’s content to let me massage and brush her, even on her backend. She is already on fish oils and glucosamine. I will try to wean a little weight off her. It will be a task as she loves food. I’m adding a little ground flax to her food and see if that will help. I hear that cumin is a good anti inflammatory. We will check with the vet.
Mornings are my best time. It is late afternoon. My mood and energy are sagging and dragging the floor. It is impossible to work on the hard stuff when I’m feeling thus. Bad habits are hard to break but I did get the kohlrabi and broccoli seedlings transplanted. They were beyond leggy and flopping over. Gardening has not been easy this year. I keep plodding along. I will be glad for my persistence and efforts come harvest time. I think of the reward to keep myself moving along.
Excuse my monotone. I’m struggling to finish this post. I find myself struggling with everything. I just have to take life in smaller bites and swallows these days. You wonder why I bother with my mutterings. Sometimes I wonder, too. But I’m the better for showing up here. It gives me order to my day. The rhythm of the keys tapping calms and soothes me. It gives me purpose. It records my moods, problems and helps me find workable solutions. It keeps me sane.