Monday, March 25, 2013

Face To The Sun

    "Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." Yes, mostly. Not always. But I try. I do my best to keep my face to the sun, my eyes looking forward, my feet moving along the path. But I do not always succeed. It is remarkable, even to me, how fast Brain and Body can flip from one channel to the next, like a hyper child with the remote control. Up, down, comedy to tragedy, calm to out of control. Even I do not know where I will land from moment to moment. It is brutal, nearly debilitating. Social anxiety screams off the charts. Panic settles into Brain with cold, probing fingers. There is even physical pain that accompanies the spaz attacks. Body and Brain are under constant threat, doing their best to fend off all that is thrown at them, but unable to dodge all the missles. It is an ongoing game of emotional and physical dodge ball. I know who is at the giving end of those red, rubber balls. My shadows, aka my demons. Who else? Little bastards. The best part is when I can catch the balls, and throw them back with every ounce of strength I have. I have stopped playing by playground rules. Head shots are allowed. Groin shots acceptable. They don't play fair, blindsiding me, pestering me at all hours of the night, spoiling fun times with their snarky remarks. So why should I play fair? I know, two wrongs don't make a right, but this has gone from a game to all out war. If I could booby trap the balls, make them explode, I would. I try to keep my face to the sun, honestly, I do. I try so very hard. But when you get brained upside the head by a well aimed, hard thrown projectile, it is impossible to maintain focus. Instead they lure me into a game that I really cannot win. I will be the kid covered with red welts and sporting a black eye by the end of the game. But I will still be there, getting battered, mocked, taunted, tormented, and yet getting up time and time again to face my foes. My shadows. My demons. Face the sun? No, I will face my tormentors and eventually beat them at their own game. Until then, I am stocking up on ice packs and bandaids.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heart Takes The Lead

    They have crept in, on cat-soft feet. My demons. They taunt me with my failings, my flaws, my ineffectiveness. I let my defenses falter, allowing them the tiniest fracture through which they flowed like water. They do not need more than a hint of an invitation to come in full force, make themselves at home, to wreak havoc on my vigilant, fastidious, mental housekeeping. It was fatigue, this time, as it often is. Fatigue and feelings of inadequacy. Body has been betraying me lately, and Brain has been muddling about in a fog. The world seems brash, harsh, painful, cold, I have become over-reactive, as is my inclination. Body and Brain both suffering from Princess And The Pea Syndrome. The slightest touch, lightest pressure is like nail driven into flesh, or mind. I am overwhelmed by sight and sound, feeling battered and bruised, exhausted, battle weary.  
    I am assaulted by reminders of my shortcomings, those I cannot help, those who need me but who I am failing. I force myself to turn away, as my heart cries out defiance. I am told, "you can't help them all." Why not? Why can't I? I can't even help the small and innocent closest to me. Why am I not strong enough? Why am I not capable? Why do I fail? I can't even help myself, so what makes me think I can help others? I am fighting my nature, fighting against the need to crawl into my shell and hide. I am doing everything in my power to not give in to whispers that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough. It does not change my desire to save them all, save all the small, innocent, weaker beings that need a strong arm, and strong spirit. But Heart is breaking. As strong as Heart is, it cannot help but feel the bruising, abrasion, and lacerations inflicted with each perceived failure. As Brain and Body flounder, Heart tries to take the lead, struggles to keep us upright and moving forward. To keep us from laying down, giving in to despair. And yet it is Heart that is most likely to feel despair in the face of enormous odds. Heart takes the lead, for better or worse.
     The Demons are clever at their craft. Whispering their malicious, vicious, abusive taunts. They know where I am most susceptible, they understand my doubts better than I do. Their adroit, facile flaying of my psyche is a marvel of their cunning craft. They are, indeed, masters of their art, fifth level black belts in the martial art of emotional and psychological flagellation. I can almost admire their proficiency and inventiveness. But I wish they would take their show on the road, and leave my psyche intact and unsullied.
    I will do all I can to rally Body and Brain, to shore up Heart, to make it through one day at a time. To prepare myself for a future that is heading towards ample opportunity to finally help who I can, or to fail miserably, dramatically, horrifically. I am glad I cannot see the future, for if I could I might very well run away and hide. Instead, since I am naively heading forward, idealism held high like a beacon against the dark, I will only know success or failure when it hits me full power in the psyche. Body, Brain, and Heart have to be ready. The Demons can do their damnedest to turn fatigue into feelings of abject failure, and I may be listening at the moment, but I know I am stronger than they. I may not be strong enough to help everyone, but I am strong enough to beat back my Demons once again. That I know I can do. But g'damn, I am tired.   

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Light and Fluffy Scrambled Brain

    Brain is really struggling to keep up these days. It has gotten to the point that Brain is making bad decisions, and allowing stupid shit to happen. Normally, Brain is the voice of reason, the voice of logic, the one who keeps the rest of us in line. Lately though, not so much. Today it has regressed to the point that Brain is in a constant conversation with itself, "Don't do anything stupid. Pay attention. Don't get us killed." Brain has been distracted to the point that we have taken the wrong exit off of the freeway, then was so distracted by being so distracted that we nearly rear-ended a guy who was slowing down to turn. We could blame fatigue and overload, but really, there are no excuses. We have got to get back on track mentally and physically. This is not a game, this is not a vacation. This is reality, and life at full speed ahead. Yes, we are getting tired, worn out, a bit broken, but the end is in sight. Well, at least the finish line for the current major event. There will be other finish lines, other events, more life to be lived than most people might ever dream about. But poor Brain is feeling limp, scrambled, fluffed full of air, a pale shade of its former self. Even Body is feeling behind the eightball, and not being quite as protective of Brain as usual. We all blame it on the time change, the whole, "Spring forward," bullshit. But the reality is that we are just feeling worn out. There is no easy remedy for what ails us, just the knowledge that we have to keep working hard, pushing towards the finish line. I consider this excellent training for my upcoming Half-Ironman; pushing through the pain, the mental fog, the exhaustion. Pushing even harder once the finish line is close, knowing that I will leave it all on the track this time. I will cross the finish line knowing I gave it everything I had, and then some. Then, only then, will I take a break, rest up a bit, power down a feast fit for a victor. Until then poor, poor Brain will have to struggle on, scrambled or not, and help get us through to the other side.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Body Does

    The time change has thrown another rock into cogs already grinding against too much built up debris. Brain is really struggling against Seasonal Affected Disorder and fatigue, Spirit is not far behind. Body, on the other hand is telling the others to just suck it up and keep moving. But even Body is feeling the drain of  being overworked and short-shrifted in the sleep department. All Body knows is that we have to keep at it, keep pushing, work harder, ignoring strained muscles, bruises, and inflamed joints that wake us in the middle of the night with their throbbing complaints. Brain is stumbling around like a drunkard in the dark, stubbing proverbial toes into proverbial chair legs. Spirit is taking a less active role in the dishevelment, instead Spirit is draped over the proverbial chair in an enervated daze, with a glazed-over, thousand yard stare. Body is insistent that we keep moving, keep training, keep pushing, striving, working towards dreams. It has become a tug-of-war, with Body, fortunately, managing to keep the upper hand.
    This time of year is always the roughest for us. The mental, emotional and physical strains are as irresistible and inevitable as the tides. This year is no different, with Body dragging the whole crew through the morass by the nape of the neck, indifferent to objections and cries for mercy. Body should be entitled to some downtime, but knows that this is not the time. If Body were to take a break, rest, collapse, then the whole structure would crumble like a shanty built on sand below the high tide mark. Body knows better. Body will keep dragging our sorry asses along until we reach the light of Spring, and then, finally, Body might get a break. Or not. Body is disinclined to admit to needing a vacation. Instead Body is likely to take it as permission to ramp up the training, push even harder. Once Brain and Spirit are back onboard and holding their own, then Body can finally assault life at full throttle. For now though, Body will keep dragging us along, ignoring the whining, head down, shouldering the load for all of us. That is what Body does.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shaving Minutes

    Life has been so chaotically busy of late that I feel I am shaving minutes wherever and whenever I can. Shaving minutes and doling them out with a miserly hand. Drive a little faster to shave a few minutes off of my commute. A few spare minutes in the morning? Attempt to corral the chaos in the kitchen. I plan out every day, minute by minute, in an attempt to cram in everything that needs to get done. And still there is never enough time. At any given moment, a portion of Brain is looking ahead, planning my next move, hoping for a smooth transition between tasks, between activities. Life has become no different than when I am driving and looking ahead to traffic patterns, changing lanes, darting through small openings to the faster lane, avoiding brake lights, passing slow vehicles, one eye on the clock. It feels as if every minute of every day I have one eye on the clock, planning my next move, planning my day, my week, the month, for optimal usage of time. I think ahead to commutes, shopping, meals, workouts, classes. I even have to schedule in down time, little shards of relaxation. And yet, even with such miserly planning, there is so much not getting done. I feel my entire house is descending into a snake pit of disorder and dysfunction. I have to turn a blind eye to unfolded laundry, reminding myself that at least it is clean. I don't allow myself the luxury of sitting to watch a movie, or documentary, instead I will be cleaning while the movie plays in the background. I have a novel left half-read since all bedtime reading has been studying of one sort or another, and even then I rarely last more than a few minutes. The area most likely to be shorn of time has been sleep and social life.
    I remind myself that graduation is only about 5 weeks away, and then, in theory, I will have a bit more time. At least my weekends will not be already spoken for. But starting tomorrow, I will be released to go on emergency calls, which will very likely sap even more time from sleep and social life. Just 5 more weeks until graduation, and then maybe, just maybe, I can catch up. Maybe, just a little. Hopefully. Until then I am shaving minutes. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Red Rover, Red Rover

    Red Rover, Red Rover. Mother May I? Simon Says. Red Light, Green Light. Freeze Tag. Kick The Can.  Or spinning round, arms wide, face turned towards the sky, until falling to the ground, dizzy, laughing, and feeling the world spin beneath us. One sunny, spring-like day and my thoughts go back to childhood games. Do children still play these days, in the gloaming of a summer evening? Mothers yelling for their kids to get home, kids pretending not to hear. Playing until the last light of day graces the horizon before shouting breathless goodbyes and hurrying home to parents pretending ire at the late arrival. I remember skin itchy from sweat, insect bites, and rolling in the grass. Scabby knees from bike crashes while attempting ridiculous stunts, sans modern helmet or protective gear. Stubbed toes on feet free of shoes for the duration of summer vacation. The days seemed to stretch on for a small eternity, summer seemed fill half of the year. Sitting in the branches of the gnarled Stanley Prune trees in the front yard, eating prunes, spitting pits down onto unsuspecting siblings. Laying in the cool shade of an overgrown grape vine, picking clusters of black, sweet globes, sucking out the nectared fruit, spitting deflated skins to the ground. Hide and seek in the dark. Olly-olly-oxen-free, the garbled, nonsensical translation shouted by the one deemed "It" to call the players out of hiding. Life was sweet and simple. It was not burdened by electronic tethers, incessant video games, non-stop television. Am I waxing nostalgic for a time that is now history? A time when children were children? A time when I was a child? Thankfully, I am still a child, at least in spirit. I play, revel silliness, laugh at the ridiculous. Warm evenings make me want to start up a game of Freeze Tag, or Kick The Can. Olly-olly-oxen-free!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spark of Vitality

    I know I should not allow myself to be affected by the negativity that I sometimes find myself surrounded by, but there are days when I feel far less resilient than I should be. Far less resilient than I know I am. I would say that if I have a super-power it would be the ability to Bounce Back. No, not like Elastic Man. More like Wolverine, on a spiritual level. I can take devastating damage to my psyche, emotions, spirit, then heal with superhuman speed. Okay, actually the healing is often superficial, the deep cuts taking longer to heal, but at least I am not laying on the floor, bleeding out my psyche in a gory mass. At least my shell heals quickly to protect me from most hits that  are thrown at me, protects me from strikes that could be fatal if they were to reach vital areas. I maintain my Vitality, hold fast to my Psyche, defend my Spirit. This is my true super-power: Vitality. Some days I have to remind myself of my Superhuman abilities, days like today, when I do not feel resilient. When even the lightest touch feels like a stiletto to the kidney, when the slightest word seems loud and offensive. Days like today I want to retreat to my Fortress of Solitude, climb into a sensory deprivation tank full of Alien Queen Jelly and let the healing commence in a sightless, soundless cocoon. It is not easy being a superhuman, much is expected, and failure is not an option. I know the spark of vitality is burning within my chest, it will never be extinguished. But today I must shelter my Spark, for now at least. I know it will rekindle when it is ready. Until then I will shelter the spark. My Spark of Vitality.

Fighting My Fetters

    Inside, chained, restrained, constrained, hobbled, hog-tied, seeing sunlight and blue sky through the window. I see the possibilities, but am trapped by the reality. Struggling against the bondage, fighting the fetters. I keep my eyes focused on the sky, but my ankles are chafed by shackles. I must believe that my freedom is near to hand. I won't let myself fall into despair. I will keep looking to the sky. Fighting my fetters. Knowing that freedom will come, if I can keep up the fight.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nasty Little Bastards

    Strange and unexpected visit from my resident Demons yesterday. They were being pesky for most of the day but not so much that they could not be shunted to the back of Brain. There they sat through the day, grumbling, and oddly, hammered down on me while I was swimming. Odd because when I am working out I am relatively protected from the scourge of resident demons. Not last night. It was as if the peace and quiet of having my head submerged in the cooling water was an open invite to allow the pestilence of Imps to hitch a ride on my shoulders as I swam lap after lap. Riding my shoulders, whispering in my ear, sibilant, nasty little bastards. Another oddity; although the demons were persistent and refused to be silenced by any practical, positive thoughts, they did not manage to get their dark, cold talons into my spirit. They did not generate depression or tears, it was more a sense of annoyance that they had the audacity to rise up and bother me in the one arena that I am usually safe.
    They did quiet down some once I was home. I was so busy with my one free evening of the week that I was blasting through chores, baking, and feeding the menagerie in a whirl of mindless activity. It wasn't until I collapsed, exhausted, into bed that the demons returned with renewed vigor. I needed sleep so badly but the mutterings and hissing would deny me that privilege for nearly an hour. I know that exhaustion often allows the cracks in my armor to widen just enough that the demons can slip in and wreak their havoc on poor, tired Brain. I know I should get more sleep, especially at this time of year, but that is nigh on impossible with my current schedule. As I dash from one activity to the next, cram in studying and chores whenever and wherever possible, manage to wedge in hard workouts, and attempt to keep my goals in sight, I keep reminding myself that it is only for about seven more weeks. Seven weeks that stretch like an eternity before me. Just seven more weeks and maybe I can get a little rest. Rest, or more likely I will find more than enough to fill my time, as usual.