Monday, February 25, 2013

Maintaining Momentum

    Still tired. Exhausted, actually. It is well deserved, earned, hard won, a point of pride. I know that as long as I keep moving forward, charging ahead I will manage to keep my balance, skirting the edge of the cliff. People tell me to take it easy, slow down, relax once in a while. I try, really I do. But when I slow down, that is when sheer exhaustion, tinged with self-pity hits, and I become disheartened, feeling that I truly am doing too much, pushing too hard, reaching for too lofty of goals. I know this. So you see, I must keep the breakneck pace, the forward momentum. If I lose momentum it takes so much energy to regain the pace I need. This has become the ultimate endurance race for me, four months of pushing, pushing, pushing. I won't slow down, now that I have found my pace. I will keep moving forward, at times in a stupefied state, relying on sheer muscle memory to get me from one check point to the next. I keep fueling, rocket fuel only, no garbage. I try to get enough sleep, though it is usually in short supply. One case of skewed supply and demand, that is certain. So I am tired. But content with my accomplishments and achievements to this point. Without a doubt, I will have more moments of weeping fatigue, despondency, melancholy, it is inevitable. For the moment, I will enjoy my aching muscles, bruises, fogged brain, knowing it is all a badge of honor today. I worked damned hard this weekend, and made great strides, gained more confidence, stepped it up a notch, proved my mettle. I deserve this exhaustion.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Impending Shift? Impending Slip?

    Along with the pending shift in my reality, as yet of unknown origin or outcome, I am feeling that shift in brain function that tends to signal an upcoming "episode." At this point, I am hoping it is merely fatigue making me feel brittle, and fragile as a wet tissue. This week I have brushed up against several tremors in the delicate balance that is me. Brushed up against, and managed to deflect. But each flirtation with chaos brings me ever closer to that moment when I will be unable to deflect the advances of the dark. I hope, and pray to the gods, that if I just keep moving forward, keep my eyes to the future, enjoy moments of the present, that I will survive the grayness relatively unscathed, unaccosted. If so, it will be a narrow escape. I do have life on my side this winter, a first in recent memory. I am surrounded by warmth, support, adventure, excitement, pleasure, accomplishments, and dreams being realized. It is a far cry from winters past, when I felt adrift and alone, struggling to stay afloat in the storm tossed winter seas. But still, I feel the hairs at the nape of my neck stir with prescience, a mumbling of fear, a grumbling of unease. If I can keep my demons at bay for just a few more months I will have emerged into spring, and sunlight, and glorious accomplishments. I have so much going on right now that keeps me excited and happy, but it is a breakneck pace. I am sure that is key to the unsettling tremors, the feeling of chaos breathing softly on my neck, that I am hurtling through life, never resting, lacking sleep, struggling to keep up. It is wearing me thin, draining my reserves, attacking my foundation. If I can just get some rest, maybe that is all it will take. Just a little rest. Sleep. I need sleep.

Impending Shift?

    I feel an impending shift. A shift in my reality. A change, unstoppable, necessary, imminent. Lurking just behind my right shoulder, as prodigious as the storm clouds blanketing the area. Massive, monumental, majestic. Change is in the air every bit as tangible as the rain scouring the street. Galvanizing, grand, glorious. I am not sure if the changes will come from external forces, or internal. I know I need a change, but will it come sooner rather than later? Self imposed or inflicted? This late in the game it does not matter. I know if events do not come to a head on their own, I will force the issue. Now is not an ideal time, I grant you that. I am neck deep in a life that has me busy beyond belief, exhausted, worn out, frazzled, running to keep pace with all that life has to offer already. To toss in additional changes might very well tip me over the edge for a brief visit to Crazyland. But I have been there before, under far worse circumstances, and with far less support. It is a place that I am all too familiar with, and it does not frighten me, it just wears me out. The best I can do is turn, look behind me, watch for the looming Change, anticipate, attempt some control, direct the outcome, and eventually land on my feet. That is the key, to land on my feet. I am adept at that. Almost as adept as I am at falling flat on my face, getting back up, wiping the blood from my chin, and dusting road grime from my clothes. At that I am a g'damned expert. Change, whether I am ready or not, is coming. As irrepressible as the storm currently pounding us with wind and rain. Irrepressible, irresistible, unstoppable. Like me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Extending a Lifeline

    Events circling around me, involving friends, made for a nocturnal visit to some old ghosts. It has been a little while since my last haunted night. This time, I felt more a spectator, not viscerally involved. I lay staring into the darkness, pulling ghosts out of my mind, turning them over in my hands, poking, prodding, pulling, waiting to feel a stab of pain, or even a dull ache. Instead there was only an understanding that I have walked away and began anew. I have deep empathy for my friend, and what she is going through, and wish there was more I could do or say, but all I know is the path that I took, am taking and know that we each have our own paths to travel. The best I can do is remain solid, understanding. What made me bring my ghosts out into the air is a realization that I have drawn that line in the sand. I have stepped up, made a conscious decision to voice my beliefs and feelings, without letting old, shriveled connections play a part. I chose a side, knowing it will likely be the final disconnect from a life I walked away from. It was a tenuous thread, a connection to friends who I do miss, but who have drifted away, or let me become the one who drifted away. Friends who are slipping into my past. There are so many situations in life where we must take a side, and often we think that we can remain neutral, but that too, is taking a side. Neutrality is the decision to turn away, pretend there is not a problem, hide our heads in the sand hoping it will all blow over. And it will, it will blow over. Everything will eventually resolve itself in one way or another even if we chose inaction. That is the way of nature, it is not static, it is not inert. Life goes on, time continues to tick past, changes will occur. But where we choose to stand effects the future. When the dust settles we see just where all the pieces landed. I could remain neutral, this is not my battle, but I know how it feels when friends step back, telling themselves "This is not my battle." I also know how it feels to have a few solid friends who did choose, who, although it was not their battle, offered me a lifeline, an anchor to sanity, solid footing in a chaotic, shifting landscape. Morally, ethically, emotionally, I know it is time to draw the line in the sand, to stand behind a friend, knowing this is severing that last thread, but also knowing that it is time to cut that thread. I cannot go back, will not go back, would not want to go back. Life is about stepping forward, stepping into the light, and extending a hand, a lifeline to bring friends through their own darkness.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Carry On

    I have begun to understand the root of much of what ails me. I am allowing external forces to effect my physical and emotional health. As much as I try to fend off the assault, it is difficult. What is at the root of all this angst? During my work day I am surrounded by people who give up before they even begin. They are so adept at finding every reason why something won't work that they refuse to look at ways to make it work. They have accepted failure, real or imagined. Accepted it to the point that they can see no other outcome. I refuse to approach life with such a defeatist attitude. I have worked hard to get where I am, and continue to reach for my dreams. I have pared out negative influences in my life, seeking out those with a similar, positive outlook. I have been knocked back, kicked down, stepped on. I have slipped off the ledge, gone over the edge, fallen, tripped. And yet I continue to pick myself up, dust myself off and try a different approach. All day I hear stories of woe, excuses, whining, complaining. I can only deflect so much. It is inevitable that some of this blackness will cling to me, attach itself to my psyche, attempt to drag me down into the communal morass. But I refuse to give in to it. I will not let the defeatism of others beat me down under its constant barrage. It will not happen. It will not be allowed. I chose to continue to seek a better path, a road to adventure, excitement, fulfillment. I am willing to let them lay in the gutter bemoaning their fate if that is what they choose, I will pick myself up and carry on. It is what I do.

Princess And The Pea Syndrome

    I have what I refer to as "Princess and The Pea Syndrome." I know there is a more scientific name for it, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. It means that I am hypersensitive to touch and pressure. Little things like a wrinkle in my sock, clothing tags, a rough seam, a collar that presses wrong at the nape of my neck, can cause me a ridiculous amount of grief. Most days it is just an annoying quirk. Other days, like today, it is painful and distracting. Today even the pressure of my clothing hurts. Unfortunately, peeling off all my clothes and working buck nekkid is not an option. Besides, it is a bit too cold for that. I love the heat of summer because it allows me to go about minimally clad, at least in the privacy of my own property. Today though, I ache from fingernails to toenails, and everything in between. It really seems to settle in my arms, from the elbows on down. I can't rest my arms on my desk or chair, the dull ache radiates out from any pressure point and feels as if it is drilling straight into my marrow. It is an interesting affliction that is not alleviated by anything I have found. When it is going full bore I find myself analyzing the discomfort, wondering at times if it is real or imagined. I examine recent behavior, eating, exercises, looking for a trigger. But I never really find anything. This is the main reason I try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, eliminating most of the known triggers of inflammation. I don't know if it works, but at least it makes me feel like I am doing something.
    Chronic pain is a world all its own. I know mine is mild in comparison to many. Even at its worst, mine is manageable, tolerable. But it makes me moody, a little short tempered, easily upset. I get frustrated with Body for what seems a betrayal. Body knows how hard I am trying to reach higher levels of physical fitness, and days like today feel like a dramatic set-back. All I know to do is ignore it and soldier on, push myself beyond the pain, suck it up. It is all I know to do. That, and stop feeling like a whiny little bitch for even mentioning any of this. Pain? What pain? I am fine. Really.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Upside Down

    I found this, reading a random article this morning. it was actually the last statement of the article, and tagged on almost as if to lighten the tone of the subject matter, a bit of a joke, as it were. Yet it resonated with me, deeply, down to my very marrow. As one who willingly, and intentionally turned her life upside down by delving deep into the dark corners of her psyche, "resonates" is putting it mildly. Now my life seems to have readjusted to True North, the pendulum has returned to center, the steep, rocky slopes have leveled. I am getting on with a new life that is taking me on unexpected journeys, into exciting new worlds, onto adventurous paths. Turning life upside down it is amazing to see what shakes out, much like turning pockets inside out and seeing how much of the bulk is actually lint and litter. Turning life upside down separates the wheat from the chaff, the coins from the pocket lint, the treasures from the trash. As with all major change, it is neither easy or comfortable, but it is essential for growth and progress. I am so far from where I was a year ago, I am not who I was before, but I am who I once was. I feel as if I have come full circle; from an enthusiastic, wide-eyed, naive, adventurous youth to an enthusiastic, wide-eyed, adventurous woman who know has the benefit knowledge and experience.
    Just a little Random Rambling brought on my a chance phrase found in a rather inconsequential and otherwise forgettable article.

It Comes And Goes

    The panic comes and goes, in little spurts. Sometimes out of nowhere. Sometimes it is triggered by what others may perceive as an inconsequential, and likely irrelevant statement or event. Tiny moments, trivial to others, panic inducing to me. Rational Mind reminds me that I have a very full plate, am working myself to exhaustion mentally, physically, and even emotionally. Rational Mind points out the stress of my job and my inability to escape it, coupled with what amounts to full time school, as well as training for a heavy racing schedule, and reminds me that I am over-doing it. Rational Mind tells me to take it easy, be gentle with myself, allow some down time, take naps. This is all good and well, but as Rational Mind is also keenly aware, I do not have time to take down time, or to nap. I am on the go from the moment my alarm goes off at 6:15 until my head hits the pillow at about 11pm. I currently get one weekend off every 3 weeks, and two evenings a week are spent at the station. I am not inclined to cut myself much slack, I don't have time for it. What this does is set me up for random fragility, which manifests in panic or weeping, or panic and weeping. At times I feel invincible. But more often than not, I feel delicate, unbalanced, fragile, tired, brittle, lunatic. I find myself falling back on my old excuse, "I am just tired," my catchall phrase when I didn't want to explain just how much the lunatic I was feeling. But these days, "I am just tired," is more truth than excuse. I know I am burning the candle at both ends and the middle, and instead of working to lighten my load I am adding to it almost daily. I am tired. I am fragile. Yet I am resilient, tough, substantial, tenacious. Let panic do its damnedest to knock me down, I will do my damnedest to hit back. Panic will come and go, it will go because I make it so. Tired and fragile, maybe. Tough and tenacious, definitely.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Take A Deep Breath And Jump

    My life is opening like a rose, layer upon layer, petals spiraling out, splaying wide to show the potential glory. Yes, I do have days when I am dispirited and feeling as if I have an anchor chain around my neck, but I know this is merely my demons doing their best to cast their shadow over what is unfolding into a beautiful adventure. My demons whisper doubts into my ear, trying to revive feelings of fear, failure, inadequacy, loneliness, despair, rejection. They wait for the right moment and then they whisper, and I do find myself listening, and believing for a brief, dark moment. I bow before the onslaught, curl in on myself, wrap around my fear, feel the sting of tears, panic that I am not worthy or up to the task. I doubt myself. I lose faith in myself. Then I raise my head, look them in their burning red eyes and spit in their faces. They will not hold sway over me, I will not allow it. I will not crumble beneath their crushing assault of untruths. Instead I look at what has happened, what I have achieved, what I am achieving every day, where I am going with my life, and the adventures already set in motion for a glorious future. I set aside fear and despair, dejection and depression, and stepped forward into my world, reinventing and reinvesting in my life. I have named dreams long held secreted in my heart, and have made them become reality. I have found a bold and adventurous kindred spirit to share the thrill and excitement of ventures yet to come. I know my demons prey upon my fear of living such a bold life, my fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone, out into the wilds of the world. Yes, I have an adventurous spirit, a desire to see the world, sample its wonders, taste its spice. It is a spirit that has so long been held in check that it is timid of the daylight, and must be coaxed and cajoled at times, booted out of the nest, forced to sink or swim, allowed to experience her inherent strength. My life is very much like the first flight of an adolescent hawk; tentative and a little clumsy to start, faltering just a bit, but spreading wings wide, and soaring as I learn to ride the wind. Flight; terrifying, exhilarating, beautiful, unnerving, unsteady, but stronger and more confident with every stroke of my wings. I will not let fear keep me nest bound. I will take a deep breath and jump. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Practicing Perfection

    Drill Night. One more demand in a tight schedule, but one I never begrudge. The orderliness of the station, the spotless engines, the camaraderie of the crew. It is soothing to nerves frayed to breaking in my life in the real world. Rig checks, donning gear, drilling with hoses and hydrant, bring order to the chaos in my mind. We don turnouts and SCBAs over and over, practicing, perfecting the moves, committing the act to muscle memory so that when a call comes in and tones drop we are not slowed or rattled by the inevitable spurt of adrenaline. Then we move on to the hydrant. Pull hose, port, and hydrant wrench from the bed of the engine, hop down, race to the hydrant, triple port the hydrant, attach hose, crank open the valve. We are timed. So even as we strive for perfection we are shaving seconds off of our last time. We must be perfect, and fast. The repetition is calming. Practicing perfection has a meditative quality that soothes my soul, releases me from the choke hold of stress that had plagued me throughout my day. I am calm. I am tired. I have returned to center.

Absolute Lunatic

    I write, rewrite, edit, delete, flounder, struggle to corral the thought monkeys clambering over my grey matter with no concern for damage. Brain has been invaded by disarray, dishevelment, disorder, drunken monkeys. Control has been stolen, turned over to powers beyond my control. The screen in my head is a static filled test pattern, flickering and flashing on every channel. And yet this has been an easy winter for me, lunacy wise. Maybe it seems easy by comparison, I would be hard pressed to match last winter for sheer madness, ferocity, and darkness. Nonetheless, I have had more than a few rocky patches as I try to keep my head up and eyes towards the Spring sunlight. As always I look for triggers, reasons, indicators, stressers. I analyze and over-analyze my actions and reactions. I look to diet, exercise, meds, sleep or lack thereof. As I sit, forcing myself to sit erect and not slump over and burrow my face into my arms, I struggle to regain my strength and composure. I cradle my head in my hands, pressing fingers into skull, attempting to sort chaos into rational thought, and failing. As in the past, I blithely lay the blame on fatigue, but I know too well that it is far more visceral than lack of sleep. This goes too deep, penetrating into psyche. I do not keep my struggles a secret, they are dark enough without also forcing me to have to live a lie. Oh sure, I am not one to go about wringing my hands and wailing, or publicly raging against the world, or creeping about in widow's weeds lamenting the loss of my innocent naivety and sanity. I am inclined to keep the gory details of my internal morass close to my chest, to spare those around me from possible contagion.
    Today, demons play beer pong inside my skull, Body struggles against pain and impuissance, Brain flounders in the grip of pixilated enfeeblement. I have the constitution of a colicky horse, the stamina of a newborn lamb. I struggle, fight, endeavor to wrest control of Self from the throes of the demon frat party in my head, and the chronic ache that defies all and inhabits Body to the marrow. I wonder if the demon party in skull, the pain that fills Body from crown of head to tips of toenails, the inability for food to process without a paroxysm of anguish, and Brain's befuddlement are cause or effect, or cause and effect? If I find the one that is the root of the problem, will the other issues alleviate themselves? If I can find the one loose thread and pull, will it all unravel? But which is the culprit? Demons? Fatigue? Pain? Nausea? Lunacy? Are they interlinked? Are they all symptoms of one grand prank being played on me by the cosmos? Or just a whole shitbag full of individual bitches fomenting in a hypochondriac mind? I don't know. I don't know how to fight it. I don't know how to remedy it. I analyze and over-analyze but just come back to the whiny child inside that says, "I don't wanna play anymore." Suffice to say, today I feel like an absolute Lunatic. I am tired, hurting, weepy, withdrawn, introverted, self-flagellating, confused, confusing, contradictory, ragged, daft, demented, and drained. I feel like an absolute Lunatic. Yes, this is a Pity Party. My own Pity Party for One. I will rebound and recover. I will pull myself up by my proverbial bootstraps because that is what I do, time and time again. But g'damn, I feel like a fucking Lunatic today.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blackberry Brambles

    Yesterday I spent part of my afternoon assaulting the blackberry brambles that inhabit one corner of my property. This last year I have only cut them back when they were threatening to encroach further onto my turf. Yesterday, as I was pruning some of my many rose bushes, I also cut back a few isolated berry vines that had materialized amongst the roses. This got me into blackberry battle frenzy mode. I abandoned my roses and assaulted the vines. I knew I needed to cut back the vines sneaking up on the young Texas King Fig tree that I planted last year, so that is where I began, slowly working my way out, using the fig tree as the center of my attack. The reason I mention this seemingly mundane task is not because I was decimating blackberries, but because of the thoughts that rambled through Brain while hands were busy. Tangled vines, interwoven, invasive, clawing, tearing, overwhelming, seemingly insurmountable, are much like problems that rear up in life. Standing and looking at the mass of vines, which are so adept at snatching at my skin that they seem to have an animal awareness, it seemed an impossible task. My Aegean Stables, my Gordian Knot with vicious claws. Life looming large and difficult. I know if I dive in, take too much, I will become ensnared, bloodied, defeated. I start with one cut. One small cut. A few feet of vine, separated from its roots and cast to the side. I do not cut long, heavy sections, they are unmanageable, and likely to stab at me with saber thorns. I cut small sections, a few feet at a time, single branches, short, manageable. I toss the pieces on a pile. It seems as if I am making no progress, but I am as persistent as they are. Clip, clip, toss, clip, clip, toss. I begin to see that I am making a little progress, my little fig tree is no longer in peril of being engulfed. I keep clipping and tossing. The vines begin to recede, the pile of severed vines grows higher. Like life, instead of being overwhelmed by what seems the impossible, the insurmountable, I just take it one small clip, one small step at a time. It seems as if I am making no progress, stalled, snared, tangled, for the longest time. And then I notice that a little progress has been made. Yes, I am scratched, a little bloody, but feeling innervated, seeing small successes, a spark of triumph beginning to kindle. I keep cutting away, removing obstacles, untangling, inching forward. Suddenly it seems, I can see just how far I have progressed, how hard I have worked, the thorny barricades have been reduced to negligible, and my debris pile has taken on a life of its own. What was once a barricade has been reduced to a tidy, insignificant pile, all because I kept moving ahead, even when it seemed I was getting nowhere, I stubbornly kept moving ahead.