Day 15: Thai food and a beer, turkeys and mindfulness?

sunrise

This is sunrise in my front yard. I love the views so very much!

I am sitting at my computer having leftover Thai food for lunch, accompanied by a Shipyard Chamberlain Pale Ale, I love Maine and it’s pile of breweries, while ruminating on my morning and the past few days. While searching for words, I looked up and saw a doe with her fawn grazing under a tree in the back yard and I am reminded that I need to put up “No hunting” signs on the perimeter of our property.

Something I haven’t really mentioned much is that I see a therapist. I see her for anxiety and depression, and help with getting through the shit show that has been our private lives since September. The shit show is very private, and very personal, so I will not delve into the details of that, but it has made all of the mind gnomes I have even more active and malicious.

The entire episode has been heartbreaking to deal with, but the flip side of the coin is that through all the rage, pain, and defeat, we as a family have found strength, unity, and a better sense of self and center.  We have more family time, we hang out more, communicate better, and overall we seem to be on a good path forward.

The point of the above is that I have always been a fairly high-strung person, and it has only been in the past few years that I have been given a clinical diagnosis of what is going on, and anxiety is a major part of that diagnosis. You wouldn’t know it to look at me most days, but my brain is working overtime, and my muscles are in a wad. I am thinking 15 different things, two scenarios where my world comes to an end, and 25 conversations I have had or will be having, and what I should say, have said, or wished I said. I don’t sleep well, and I have cracked a tooth thanks to grinding my jaw.

A major source of my issues is that I can’t sit still, and even if I do, I am rarely calm. Because of this, my therapist wants me to try mindfulness meditation. She tried using Heartmath on me last week, and to say I was an outlier would be an understatement. When I was focused, or in a place where I should have been fully focused, calm, and mindful, I was at the opposite end of the scale from where I should be, and when I should have been revved up, excited, not mindful, I was in the area where I should have been if I were totally centered. We both got a snicker of that, so today she tried an actual app that forced me to relax.

Today’s exercise was with Headspace, and it did seem to work a bit. I was able to take full stock of my physical self, and see what my brain was doing, and by that I mean it was running amok. As usual. Know what happens when you have spent several years learning to bird by ear? Shutting out the sounds of birdsong becomes an exercise in frustration. I did feel that there was no muscle group in my body that wasn’t tense, and I wondered why all of my weight was shifted left. In other words: I have a long ways to go.

In other news: we have a flock of Wild Turkeys in our yard, and they come in every day for food. Some times it is the full flock of 11, most of the time it is nine or five of them. My favorite thing about them is how darned big they are, and the dinosaur footprints they leave all over the place in the snow. My last favorite thing is the piles of turkey poop all over the place, though I suppose the grass will appreciate it as spring comes along.

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Part of the flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallapavo) that think the feeder table is for them.

turkey foot

I do have Hobbit-sized hands, but these tracks remind me of what dinosaur tracks might look like!

day 12: silence is overwhelming.

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The “Gloryhole” overflow area, Lake Berryessa, California. Photo from CBS News

I have been quiet lately, and it’s not because I have nothing to say, but because I have too much to say. The image above is a good visualization of my mind lately, it’s too full, and somehow I have to open a spillway to let the excess out, but unlike this structure, which has a volume limit, and then passively lets all the gallons of water it can’t hold fall out via gravity, I have to sift, decide what to deal with, think about, let go of, and which items swirling in the morass of my mind are like a sore tooth and need to be left alone for now.

I tend to take people at face value most of the time, and allow them to be who they are. To that end, there is a saying that I keep in my mind:

“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” ~ Maya Angelou

This is, I believe, pretty good life advice. It falls in line with the idiom “A leopard doesn’t change its spots”. So many of us don’t heed that advice, and it is not new by any means. People can have an off day, they can have an on day, but on the whole, they are going to behave and react in a predictable to them manner, and we have to open our eyes and minds and see that.

What is the point of the above? Our little family has been dealing with some serious issues, ones that are way above and outside the pay grade of all of us that currently reside in this house. I look back at the root cause of the entire thing, and I mentally kick the shit out of myself, because I had seen the spots on the leopard, and rather than taking several big steps back, I thought I could be a stabilizing and positive influence.

I have a feeling that anyone with a modicum of common sense that is currently reading this is yelling at their computer/phone, etc. “No, no, no! You can’t ‘fix’ people!”, and if it were me reading this, I would be doing the same thing. Amazing how blind we can be while in the middle of a situation, thinking we can be a savior of a sorts. That’s not how it goes, and millions of broken-hearted people across the globe can attest to this.

Adding fuel to the fire of all the things in my head: the chinchilla we adopted from Maryland didn’t survive the trip. As a prey species, they are incredibly sensitive to stress, and go into shock somewhat easily, with death following. Waking up Thing 1 first thing in the morning with that news sucked. Fortunately there was no school that day, and we were able to spend the day mourning, discussing what happened, etc.

What surprised me the most about the chinchilla dying was how hard I took it. I spent most of the day in tears off an on, and 20 minutes in the shower sobbing. I was trying to figure out how the situation could gut me to that point, and then I realized it was the catalyst for releasing a whole host of hurt and pain. Thank goodness for bathroom fans, running water, and loud music. The kids needed to see me be sad over the death, but not nearly hysterical.

I realize in writing this I sound like a complete wreck, and in a lot of ways I am, but I am working through things with the help of a professional that holds me to account in a way that none ever have. She forces me to deal with things, helps me understand my brain, why I think the things I do, and how to move in a better direction.

I may still be a little quiet, though we all know I am not a prolific poster, but I am trying to see the good, work through the bad, and come out better on the other side for myself, and for my family. Some days are more difficult than others, and on those days, I take a quiet hour for myself and color. If you are someone that deals with depression and anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed, I can’t express how soothing a good coloring book is. My choices tend to be vulgar, but my new favorite is therapy in a pile of pages, and it is by the ever funny, delightfully forthright, and always real Jenny Lawson. The book is YOU ARE HERE and it is a great way to feel better.

In all of the anger, guilt, frustration, rage, pain, hurt, helplessness, and other negative emotions I have been dealing with, I still try, every day, to find a positive. I look for something good, I look for a golden ring to grasp on to, and every day finding that gets easier.

If you are having a rubbish day, if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, find one thing. One tiny thing, nothing is too small, to be your candle, your spark of light in the dark. Right now mine is Google Play Music, and the pile of 90’s music that is streaming in my ears, and despite how broken I feel inside, I am able to smile at others, and know that I probably make someone’s day by being kind.

candle

Be kind to yourself, it’s the best gift you can give.