Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Malaise

    It has been a bizarre week of ups and downs. For weeks I have been fighting against a melancholy that is more grey than black. Not a trip into the abyss, more like watching a home movie version of a trip. It is hard to describe, and I don't quite understand it myself. I have been thinking that maybe it is more physical, as if I am fighting off some malaise, since it has manifested more like a case of extreme exhaustion than the emotional drain of depression.
    As I have been pondering this weird manifestation of whatever the hell is sapping my energy, the world has continued on despite my lack of involvement. As I hide in my hermitage, feeling sorry for myself, events have transpired that make me want to grab myself by the collar, give myself a shake and a slap upside the head, and scream, "Get over it!"
    Last week, a friend finally lost his long, hard fought battle with cancer. He lived far longer than the doctors predicted. He lived long enough to see both his children marry, and to meet his first grandson. He was a good man, flawed, as we all are, but with a good soul. We used to armor up and fight, way back when, and he was a good teacher. We have sons that are close in age, and close in size, and I remember how he and I laughed the first time we put those two big boys into armor and let them fight with hard, rattan weapons instead of the padded versions they were used to. Suddenly, they were much more cautious with each other, as they realized just how much they could hurt each other.
    Also last week, a friend lost her beloved canine companion to cancer. It was sudden and unexpected, but had metastasized to her heart. There was nothing to be done but make the tough decision. It is a brutal choice to have to make. It was nearly two years ago that I had to make the decision to end the pain of my beloved Tonks, my big, hairy girl.  It still hurts to think about, and my friend losing her dog to fucking cancer makes me hurt for her, and brings my own pain back to the surface. Fuck cancer.
    Monday was one of the good days. I got to run a 5K along our hometown 4th of July parade route, then watch the parade with my grandkids. That was a joy, as always.
    Wednesday started with my pager rousting me out of bed. A 35 year old man, felled by what was likely a massive heart attack. We worked on him for a long time, but there was nothing to be done. He was 35. Thirty-five!  Fuck no.
    The news has been filled with the violence that is tearing our country apart, and terrorism that is shaking the entire world to the core. I can't even log in to get my email without feeling overwhelmed by the tragedies that are happening with daily regularity. It is overwhelming.
    As I feel sorry for myself, with this grey malaise that I can't seem to shake, I have to make myself take a good look at my little corner of the world. I hold myself and my life up to the light, seeing it all for what it is. I can feel empathy and sympathy for the tragedies that are going on around the world, but can be glad it has not personally touched me. Yes, I am poor, skirting the edge of poverty, but my bills are mostly paid. Mostly. I am poor but I eat well, have a car that runs, a good roof over my head, a garden planted, fruit trees, grapevines, berries. As I hold myself up for inspection, comparing my minor woes to those who have lost loved ones, I chide myself for being so damned delicate.
    I think the real root of this malaise is my lack of progress towards.... something. I feel like I have stalled. Dead in the water. Low energy equates to zero motivation. But what am I motivating to? I have no fucking idea. It is just like trying to maintain a high level of training for triathlon, when there is no triathlon to train for. Without some sort of endgame it is hard to keep any kind of focus. Without focus, how can I know what needs to be done? I don't know where I am going, so how can I chose a path? Is that the key? There is no destination? No destination does not mean that I can't enjoy the journey. But I need to let go of the idea that I must go from point A to point B. I need to allow myself to putter about, relax, read a book, write when I have words that have to escape, paint when the need for color arises, build when my hands need to be productive. I just have to step back from the intense level of go go go that I tend to force myself in to.
     Maybe I need to shut out the news of events I have no control over. Focus on the here and now of my own reality. Maybe I am just rambling incoherently because I am sleep deprived and deranged. Maybe I am just blowing smoke, again, to try and make sense of things that make no sense. Maybe my reality has absolutely nothing to do with anything but the babblings inside my own head. Maybe it just is what it is, no explanations needed. Maybe. I don't know.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Physical Manifestations

    Now comes the physical manifestations of melancholy. It is as if Body, knowing Brain and Spirit are managing to dig their way out, is telling me, "Fuck no, not yet."  It is strange to be in the grip of something tangible yet ethereal, held prisoner by demons that know how to eke out every drop of misery from every corner of me. It is easier for Brain and Spirit to claw their way out of the abyss, sometimes it is a case of mind over matter. Yes, I am good at blowing smoke up my own ass. I can talk a good talk, raise my own spirit from the dead, or near-dead. Body is not so easy to convince. Body is stubborn when tired and achy. I do tell myself that it is okay to take a rest day, after all, I do push myself hard. This has been different, for this time of year. Maybe it is just that I managed to glide through the late winter and into early spring without too many missteps. That is my usual time for a meltdown. This year, somehow, I managed to avoid any untoward episodes, kept the demons at bay, and came through the dark days relatively unscathed. I may just be having a delayed reaction.
    I have been trying to find the keystone to this particular episode, and can't quite pin it down. I know it is partly dissatisfaction with my job, combined with a severe shortage of cash this month, and a few other issues that would be minor in and of themselves, but added to the morass they become major hurdles. Being strapped for cash has made my diet switch from heavy on the fresh fruit and veg to a bit heavier on the home-baked (and delicious) carbs.This isn't the best plan for a body that is already feeling a bit askance from having my training interrupted with illness and injury. I have been on antibiotics several times this spring, and that may have kicked me into an imbalance as well. So nothing feels quite right. My whole being feels unbalanced, awkward, heavy, apathetic, sluggish. I have been so tired these last few weeks I feel as if I am drugged.  I try to work on projects, of which there are an overwhelming abundance, but I can't manage to wrap my brain around them, much less muster any enthusiasm.
    Work is kicking my ass on almost every level, and feeling especially intrusive on my delicate, introverted psyche. There is nothing I can do about work though, since there isn't exactly and army beating down my door to hire me as a Hermit In The Woods. On that front though, I am thinking through some good ideas for extra income, if I can get Body to stop being so damned pouty. As it is, I'm not even keeping up with my household chores, much less having any excess energy to launch a business endeavor.
    I just have to get Body through the next few days. That should see me through the worst of it. I hope. I keep managing my workouts, though those are slipping a bit, and taking my vitamins like a good girl. I confess, I have added the little pink pill, citalopram, back into the mix in an attempt to push myself back on track. I'm not sure what else I can do at this point, except keep on keeping on.  Sometimes, that is the best I can hope for. Now I think I will curl up with a book and a cup of herbal tea. That I have the energy for.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Little Magic

    Yesterday felt like the culmination of too many days/weeks/months of trying to find my way. This morning I woke feeling that Thing still lurking just over my shoulder, a ponderous presence, an explosion waiting to happen. I felt hungover, and with melancholy calling my name. Breakfast was an antidepressant and two cups of black coffee. I know, sometimes I like a good self pity wallow, I think it is good for the soul. But this had gone on far too long, with no payoff, no end result.
    Knowing there was not much to be done at this point I decided on a seriously ass-kicking workout to start my day. Then, if I did nothing else all day at least I would have accomplished something. Wednesday afternoon is my time with my grandson, and he is a bit of a devil. I get to act like a kid, with reckless abandon, and no judgement. Spending time with him always makes the day brighter, it also kicked my melancholy hangover to the curb. I had to leave him about 5pm, since Wednesday is also drill night at the station. Lo and behold, I get home and find out there is no drill tonight. Suddenly I have a free evening. Normally this would mean getting in an extra workout, but since I kicked my own ass all morning, then spent an hour in the pool the the little granddevil, I really did have free time. Weird. Okay, I never really have Free time, there is always something that must be done. So I started a pot of vegan chili and wandered outside.
    I have been slowly building a greenhouse. Bit by bit, out of salvaged material. I have a couple of old windows that are getting a fresh coat of paint so I decided to finish them up so maybe I can install them tomorrow. As my hands worked, painting and throwing the Kong for my silly little pitbull, my brain finally slipped off the hamster wheel of doom. I have been so focused on trying to think of One Good Idea that I forgot that what I Do Best is a little bit of everything. For decades I have dreamed of being able to make a living doing a number of different things, things I love to do. I don't know when and why I lost track of this idea, but I have been skirting around it forever. Recently I have come up with half a dozen really good ideas, none that is a huge moneymaker, but all of which have decent potential, and combined could be just what I need to do.
    A few weeks ago I read an article on finding your path. One question it asks, that I hadn't really formed an answer for is: What's one thing you dream about that you've never told anyone? Today I found my answer, like a clarion call, "Magic." I dream of magic. Magic, and the Fair Folk, and dragons, and talking animals. I want magic in my life, and I want to bring it to other people. I used to make Dream Pillows, and little magic bags, and Pookas (Welsh house fairies), and little dragons. I was "Here There Be Dragons." I loved that. But I couldn't find a way to make money with it. Now though, I think I can make it work. If I shift my focus a bit, change the inventory a tad, have a wider array, and a different marketplace. I think I can do this. Maybe. Maybe it is just another pipe dream, but what I really want is Magic. That Thing is no longer lurking, the explosion turned into an epiphany, the melancholy backed off a few steps. Maybe that is my Magic.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Something Has Got To Give

    I can't get past this chronic feeling that something has got to give. That here is something just over the horizon, waiting or lurking. I have been tiptoeing along the edge of an abyss, one that is familiar and yet not. I know change needs to happen, but what that change is I can't quite nail down. I have been spending much of my waking hours, and some of my dream state as well, mulling over what I want/need/should do. I have slipped into a feeling of suspended animation. I can't seem to get anything done, because there is so much to do. I can't seem to make decisions, because there is so much that needs to change. There is a great pressure in my chest, in my skull, in my heart, that feels as if it will explode upon the world, either in a fantastic maelstrom, or a gory mess.
    It is no secret that I try to force change, often well before it is time. But right now I feel as if I don't make a change I will be stuck in this state of lethargy, torpor, stupor, hibernation, until it is too late to make a change. I will become shadow of myself, a specter, going through the motions of my life without actually living. I am tired of where I am at, and since I am not a tree, I can move. But where do I go from here?
    No, I am not talking about anything as simple as moving from one residence to another. Besides, I love my shaggy little house, it is my shelter from the ravages of the world. What I am talking here is a move of greater significance. A need for a spiritual shift, a creative convergence, an artistic alluvium. I need to drag myself out of my current rut, the quagmire I am wallowing in that is stifling my desire to build and create. The muck of stress that holds me in its pervasive grip, and tries to suck me into the mire of self pity and melancholy. I can't give in, but I am finding myself nearly helpless to fight my way out.
    I tell myself I am just having an off day, off week, okay, actually an off month or two. My triathlon training has faltered, my nutrition has suffered, my projects are lying unfinished, my garden is barely planted, my house is in chaos. Every night I psyche myself up, "Tomorrow I am going to jump into working on..." fill in the blank with a dozen different ideas/schemes/projects. And every morning I can barely drag myself out of bed. I want to sit with a book and a cup of tea, all day long. All damned day long. The first few times I told myself I deserved a day of rest. But this has become a habit. Yeah, sure, not a habit that has been going on for more than a few days, really, but too many days nonetheless.
    It all comes down to that feeling that something has got to give. Something is hanging over me, a ponderous, massive, unknown Thing.  I can't put my finger on it. Try as I might I cannot figure this out. Search and research, analyze and over-analyze, over-thinking to the point of obsession, and I still cannot wrap my Brain around an answer, solution, or even a direction to go. I am floundering, and it makes me want to curl up in my room and hide from reality. Something has got to give. For now, I will just have to sleep on it, again. But I am losing my mind, again. Maybe tomorrow I will at least get something done.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Seeker?

    Throughout my life I have had times of dissatisfaction. Nothing tangible, just a vague feeling, like an oppressive weight hanging in the air. A need to change, throw life into chaos, shake the snowglobe. An indefinable itch that I can't seem to locate well enough for a satisfactory scratch. Sometimes it feels like a faint power vibrating inside my marrow, an undischarged jolt of static electricity. A desire for a madcap dash into the unknown. In times past this has led me to make major changes in my life. Dramatic upheavals that have altered my path, pushed me in whole new directions. I don't foresee that at this time, there are too many aspects of my life that I am satisfied with. I love my little house, so won't do anything to jeopardize that. Besides, a girl's got to have a roof over her head, it might as well be my own. But all other tings are subject to change.
    I do fantasize about what it would be like to have zero responsibilities. Be able to take off at a moment's notice for an adventure, be it simple or otherwise. But then I come back to how much I do love about my life. My colorful home, my beloved family, my loyal dogs, the trees I have planted with my own hands that are bearing fruit, The Fort, the greenhouse under construction. So many things I have done to make my corner of the world be exactly what I want and need. And I have done it myself, for me, just how I want. My hermitage, my sanctuary.
    Much of my life is exactly what I could want. But there is still a need for change, a desire to alter my path, find my True Nature. I could say it is my job. The need for money that keeps me tied to the Real World. A job that, though not terrible, is still stressful, underpaid, and feels like a waste of my talents. But that comes back to not putting my little house in jeopardy. Yes, I live on the edge of poverty, but it is by choice. I chose to have less financial gain so I can devote more of my time to my own endeavors. I have made the conscious choice to put less valuable energy into the wants and needs of others, and more into my own. But what are those? What are my needs? What endeavors? Money is not the issue, except for the tool that it that makes life comfortable.
   What is it in the air that has me retreating into books of magic and fantasy?  It is not as if I expect to accomplish Great Works. It is not as if I were hoping for my Happily Ever After. Is it merely that there are so many horrible things happening in the Real World that I am escaping into the realms of fairy tales and fantasy? That does not feel right either.
    Is it because I feel like a Seeker on a Quest? Looking for my purpose, my grail? A bit of Parcival the Fool, I think. Naive, gullible, the eternal optimist? Maybe my role as Seeker has nothing to do with what lies at the end of the quest, but with the quest itself? I do find myself most content when I am seeking knowledge, even if it is just for the knowing, and not for any concrete reason. I love to search and research. Is this my Destiny? My Path? The simple need to learn of anything and everything? That still does not feel right. Close, but not quite.
    Whatever the cause, this feeling of Impending Something has been riding me like one of my demons of old. Though not quite as noisome. It does have nearly that same prescient aura that would precede a trip to the edge of the abyss, though without the feeling of impending Doom. The same, but different. Those were times of wild, manic change and growth. This feels slightly less manic and wild, but no less pressing. Another time of growth and change? A new Path to traverse? Changes that need to be made, but what are they? They invade my dreams, both waking and asleep. If I think of myself as a Seeker, I will continue to seek. Knowledge, for the sake of knowledge.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A New Endeavor

    The oppressive heat and humidity, combined with yesterday's exertions, have kept me relatively inactive today. I've been drinking iced tea and reading, mostly. But I can't let a day go by without doing something productive (other than housework). So, I opted for working at my computer. I have started on a task of intimidating magnitude. It is something I have pondered and planned for quite some time, but procrastinated because it is an intimidating endeavor. I have wanted to take the bulk of the postings on this Blog, my Random Ramblings, from the very beginning, and compile them into book form. The diary of someone fighting to find their own path through a lunatic world. As I copy and paste my earliest writings from over 5 years ago, it gives me chills despite the heat. Reading between the lines I am in awe of some of my foresight, and proud of the strength I had as I fought my way through some brutal changes. But it is taxing. Even though I won't let myself stop and read every post, I am catching enough words to make me falter occasionally. The raw emotions; fear, anger, joy, loneliness. My stubbornness and determination to forge my own life shine through on nearly every page. It is revealing, a little heart-wrenching, exhausting, and uplifting. I kind of amaze myself sometimes. I hope I have the patience to see this through, it is a bit tedious, kind of like cleaning out an attic. The attic has a lot of little treasures, and I have to keep dusting them off and getting them organized without getting too swept up in all the details. This will be grubby, sweaty work. But worth it in the end, I think.

Day of R&R

    Lethargy has set in today. Not in a bad way, per se, but in an "I deserve a rest day," kind of way. Yesterday I played hooky from work (well, actually I requested a day off and found someone willing to work my shift) and got to spend a long morning with my fellow firefighters burning down a house. Burn to Learn. Yeah, it is as fun as it sounds. There is s certain twinge of insanity involved in climbing into heavy clothing, intentionally starting a fire, playing with said fire until it finally manages to escape the attempts to tame it, then standing around in record breaking heat to watch it burn. We left the our station at 7:30 in the morning, and were back, slightly dehydrated, exhausted and pleased by 1:00 in the afternoon. By then temps outside had reached 99, which is a bit ridiculous considering that a few days ago it was 65 and raining. Welcome to Oregon's spring. This did leave me with a free afternoon to get in a 90 minute workout at the pool, a trip to a local greenhouse for plants, and home by 4:00. I figure I did enough yesterday for a whole weekend, so spending the of my time reading and chugging iced tea while outside temps soar is totally justifiable. Right? Anyway, mostly I wanted to scribble a few words so I could post a cool picture. Not my usual m.o. for my blog, but what the hell, neither is taking a day off.
(yeah, that's me on the right.... rocking the shiny new turnouts)