A flaw in the plan

There was a flaw in my plan, such as it was.

So, I’ve been working really hard for a couple of weeks..complex, new stuff, kind of flying by the seat of my pants while keeping all the balls in the air, long hours etc.  Then I went for a weekend at the coast, which, while wonderful, was exhausting in its own way.  AND my 80-something year old bios (biological family) are swinging through Portland and alighting for the night in my little house in….oh….about 36 hours.

Anyway…..yesterday when I got home, I was pretty much wiped out.  The day had been a success, but I was kind of done.  So I rejected the planned tuna salad, talked E into procuring a fried chicken dinner (with jojos!) from Freddies, ate said dinner at, oh, about 4pm.  Drank 2.5 glasses of delicious wine, and ate a few too many of J’s amazing cowboy chocolate chip cookies.  These cookies are being made for multiple purposes – gifts to the new neighbors…something for the bios coming in….but yeah – they’re actually for me.  Well, no, they’re actually not…but last night, they were.

Also, there is a list as long as my arm of things that need to get done before my Mother arrives (yeah….two aunts and an uncle are also arriving…but in my mind’s eye, the thing that floats to the top and screams is YOUR MOTHER IS COMING TO VISIT).  I had lofty plans for after work chores – trimming the roses, mopping the kitchen, sanitizing the bedroom and living room  (you know…the thing where you eye your living space with the perspective of an elderly relative, and remove things that are likely to send them into a tizzy), dusting everything (my personal most loathed chore).  Well…..I strong armed myself into dusting my bedroom, and counted it as good.

So, there I was.  Sitting in the living room at 6pm…stuffed with chicken, cookies, and wine.  Accomplished enough, task-wise.  Disinclined to watch the Olympics.

I entertained aspirations of amusing myself with Facebook, but frankly – it couldn’t hold my interest.  So yeah – I essentially went to bed at 6pm.  Now, I had every intention of reading for awhile (maybe even until a reasonable bedtime!) but the truth of the matter is that I was basically sound asleep by, oh, 6:45 pm.

Which was great!  Until about an hour ago.  Just so you know – an hour ago was midnight.  Yeah…12 am.  I’d been asleep for about five hours, and…now I’m awake.  I  lay there for awhile and pretended that I might get back to sleep…but who am I fooling.  I’m awake.  The flaw in the plan.

So I got up.   For what it’s worth, I left the air conditioner AND the heated mattress pad on in my bedroom.  I mean, I could get sleepy and go back to bed, right?

Tomorrow (today, I guess, in reality) is a telework day.  Honestly, I knew that going in (especially the wine part) otherwise, I never would have gone to bed at 6pm.  My work day starts at 6am, so that’s only…*glancing at the clock*…five hours from now.  Plenty of time to accomplish stuff, AND maybe get a cat nap, right?  I am a dedicated and serious teleworker…I get dressed to telework (although I do wear comfy clothes, rather than work drag), and ‘report to work’ on the dot, at the dining room table.  The thing is, I can pretty much just get up, get dressed, and ‘go to work’ – no commute or cosmetics required!  I don’t even have to comb my hair.   I just get up, feed the cat, get dressed, and start working.

Speaking of the cat…he dutifully appeared when he heard me get up, although he was clearly confused.  He meowed kind of half-heartedly to be fed, and, as I basically ignored him, he has now fallen flat asleep underneath the kitchen barstools.  I’m talking half-curled, head flat on the floor asleep.  I can hear  E snoring downstairs – or maybe it’s J in her bedroom, not sure.  I didn’t uncrate the dog, although I’m pretty sure she’d come out….blink sleepily….gamely follow me into the dining room….and conk out like the cat.

So.  Here I sit….it’s 1:09 a.m. by the computer clock.  What to do now?  I made coffee and put the living room back together (apparently, J got distracted from her routine and checked out before doing her pre-bed chores).  The coffee is strong, and I resisted putting cream in it.  I know what’s ahead in the real day – logging on to work at 6am, working through the list of tasks I need to do while teleworking.  Taking the dog to the groomer at 9am.  Picking her up at noon.  Meeting a friend at the dog park at 3:30 p.m.

There is also that arm-long list of pre-bio visit chores.  Weed the front and trim the roses?  Ain’t happening in the middle of the night. I could dust the living room…and that will likely happen, I can do that without making a whole lot of noise.  And maybe mop the kitchen floor.  Oo!  I could definitely sanitize the bedroom and living room.  Can’t start the laundry or run the big vacuum cleaner.  I could probably water the houseplants without too much of a ruckus, although running the water in the middle of the quiet house in the middle of the silent night is noisier than one might expect.  Said noise also puts a kibosh on taking a shower.  Refilling vitamins, though, is a possibility.

This awake in the middle of the night thing wouldn’t really be an issue if I were already retired.  I actually don’t mind being awake in the wee hours.  It’s quiet and dark and cool…it’s a great time to write.  Companion animals tend to be companionate, but calm and un-needy (the cat is too sleepy to yell for food, and there is nothing for the dog to bark at).  Human household members tend to stay asleep and punctuate the night with the somehow comforting sounds of snoring behind closed doors.  My thing is that because I’m still working, I need to be able to more or less conform to the Monday – Friday, 9 – 5 workday, and be functional, alert, and reasonably agreeable. This middle-aged waking up in the middle of the night thing doesn’t go too well with the 9 – 5 gig.   Actually, in my case, it’s more like 6am – 3pm ish…but whatever.  I have at least seven more years of the full time employment, get-up-go-to-work routine, though.

So, I guess I will publish this….then make my rounds of Facebook and email….drink a little more coffee….maybe uncrate the dog (maybe not)..and dust the living room.  Maybe I’ll get sleepy enough in a bit to go back to bed for awhile.  I’m thinking probably not, since this coffee is pretty danged strong.   I’d go outside and sit on the porch, but it hasn’t been despidered lately (that will definitely happen before bios arrive!) and I get the heeby-jeebies.  Simply can’t abide spiders, just can’t.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”
– Robert Frost

The night is truly lovely, even though I haven’t walked out into it yet…I can feel it, just beyond the dining room window, pressing back against the pool of yellow electric light.

 

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The evolution of empathy

My household is a microcosm of what I am seeing happening around me….one member has essentially checked out, one member is polarizing towards passionate anger, and me – well, I am, as always, somewhere in the middle.  I can feel the rage and the sorrow and the fear and the confusion around me, in my city, in my country, and in the world at large.  If I don’t shield myself away from it, it could easily overwhelm me.  If I strongly shield myself from it, I essentially disconnect.  Neither is the right option….I try to reach for the existential global evolution point of view – but that, too, is a struggle.  The noise is overwhelming, and although I believe that centering myself in light and sending it outwards will connect to other light workers and ultimately help us move to the next level, the cynical part of me laughs at the idea as fruitless and hollow.  It’s more difficult to reach for the spirit walk when decades of conditioning have tried so hard to rub out the shaman.

It is also difficult to see clearly – I know that we, as a society, are being lied to and manipulated on so many levels and in so many ways that it is almost impossible to see clearly .  It is like being immersed and swept down a muddy, tempestuous river.  If you’re lucky, you’re in a nice little protective bubble of some kind….but you’re still immersed in the muddy river, pushed along by currents and surges not of your own making, nudged (or yanked) under the surface.  If you manage to surface long enough to get a glimpse of the sky, it is obscured by mist and spray and fog of artificial making.  Not to mention…the bubble itself, while perhaps shielding you from being battered to death by the river, effectively disables your ability to reach outside it and paddle your way to clear air.

Lies, lies, and more damn lies.  Layers upon layers of them.

I’ve checked completely out of the political circus, distaining it for the charade I know that it is.  Will I vote?  Yes.  Do I have any confidence in the political system?   None whatsoever. The commercial and corporate tiger that has us by the throat has absolutely no intention of letting go.

So where do I look to help myself navigate through the pressure before the Great Wheel turns?  How do I reach within to pull forward the clarity it takes to help others walk through these times?   How to insulate myself without checking out?  Then the other things….how to think about how to navigate the urban wars? How much energy to turn towards trying to prepare, building a coalition of neighbors, dragging my household through awareness without becoming nutty about it?

Too many issues, too many options, too many choices, too much need.  Too many people.

I’ve thought for some time that one of the fundamental problems is that there are too many people.  People ask “what ever happened to the sanctity of human life??”…well, when there are 7 billion of us, it’s easy to stop seeing individuals.  And how many people do you know personally who absolutely hate crowds?  We’re designed by nature to live and move in small groups….not enormous, vast, anonymous herds.

Too. Much.

So I listen to my classical music.  I pet my dog.  I go to work.  I prune my roses.  I read books, consider options, and try to watch patiently for opportunities to help and heal which are also safe for me.  It doesn’t feel like enough, but I am doing my best to keep moving forward with the gifts I know I have to share.  It is an option to hurl myself into the evolution, spending all energy to help birth the next world.  But I am not inclined to hurl myself anywhere.  I am old enough now to want to choose the path and my footing carefully, rather than fling myself against the storm.

This is a particularly woogie post, and I’m not sure I want to publish it.  But I’m going to.  One of the things I can do is speak my truth into the howling wind.  Maybe somewhere, someone will see a bright banner of my words twisting in the storm, and have something they can tie onto.  Perhaps, if enough bright words and strands of the shamans are tied together, it can create a net of sorts – something against which the dreams and strivings of the next world can catch.

Independence

Independence Day….4th of July, USA.  The neighborhood is very quiet – I can’t even hear cars on Foster, the mid-city ‘speedway’ to the north of my street.  No sirens…no cars….no children.  Also, no sound from my household.  No…wait….I can hear snoring from downstairs.  That counts as a sound.

I set my alarm for 4:30am, a standard Monday morning wake up, and was sleeping soundly when it went off.  Why do I do that on a holiday morning?  Well, frankly, I enjoy the very early morning hours, when everyone is here but still asleep.  I putter and drink coffee and stand on the porch and stare at the sky.

I went outside at 4:45 or so…and the sky was already getting light.  Pale peach precursors of dawn streaked the dark edges of the trees.  I know this time is passing…that soon enough, it will be dark until after I get to work, and slipping towards dusk as I commute home from work under grey rainy skies.

As I settle into my 3rd? 4th? summer in Oregon, I am beginning to understand why we live for summer, save up leave for it, and maximize every moment of it. It is glorious.  No rain, warm enough to let you know that it’s summer but not so hot that it scorches you (generally), early dawns, lingering twilights…and it is only about two and a half months long.  July, August, and about half of September.  There is a completely different world which appears in the PNW summer.  Wardrobes, furniture, flowers, food, beverages, restaurant patios, farmers markets, kayaks and hiking boots….it’s like for that fleeting 3 months or so, the world is lived through a special lens before we once again get out the rain jackets, wool socks, sweaters, leggings, boots, and hats.  The patio furniture gets pulled under the eaves, BBQs are cleaned and put away, garden beds are composted and mulched.  Cascadians once again turn inward to our books and NetFlix, hoping against hope that our streaming shows have uploaded the new season so we don’t have to poke around and end up watching old episodes of MASH and Bewitched all winter long while the rain gurgles in the gutters.

What does all of this have to do with Independence?

I’m not sure.  I thought it was important to mention at the head of the post, but now I’m not sure why I thought it was important.  Yesterday, we went out to the Gorge to take a houseguest hiking (the trail was packed with people).  Afterwards, I wanted to show her the Vista House (I ended up turning around about 2/3 of the way up because the cars were backed up, stopped, about half a mile from the parking lot…grrrr).  Anyway, on the way up there, we went through several swatches of heavily-flagged houses and businesses.  Including a giant flag suspended by a crane over the main road.  I guess I should mention these are USA American flags…?

Anyway….I know that the 4th is a big deal…small towns everywhere have parades, old veterans march along carrying ‘the colors’, the local high school marching band makes a summer appearance, children on decorated tricycles pull bemused dogs in garden wagons. Fireworks blossom over rivers and stadiums, and in darkened yards in neighborhoods across the country, older adults sit in lawn chairs and watch younger adults explode a month’s worth of grocery money on the street.  Children run in circles with sparklers, and dogs everywhere cower until the storm of booms and hisses and crackles and screams subsides.

And then there is the food.  Hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, corn, beans, cakes, pies, cookies, watermelon.  The 4th of July feast is an outdoor feast – picnic tables, lawn chairs, pop up shade tents, disposable plates and cups in vivid shades of red, white, and blue.  There is almost always an ad hoc game of some kind of ball….maybe baseball, kick ball, maybe even badminton.

What does any of this have to do with Independence?  Not much, I don’t think.  Nobody even really calls it “Independence Day” any more…we all call it “The 4th”.  It really seems to be more of a celebration of summer, rather than a political holiday…although we do dress it up in flags and soldiers.  I imagine that preachers still give “Thank God for American” sermons in churches everywhere…although that is so far from my world that I find it hard to visualize, even though I know it must occur.

So what does it mean to me?  Hard to say.  I’m cynical enough to think that the “Land of the Free” isn’t quite as free as we think it is.  I guess it’s important to acknowledge that at some point way back there, we were a colony and became independent from Great Britain, but it doesn’t really seem all that relevant some 250 years later.  I don’t care for fireworks, I don’t go to church, and I don’t wave the flag.  I do go to picnics, but for me, that’s all about summer, not patriotism.

Where do I go with all this?  I guess I don’t have to go anywhere.  I don’t need to drape anything in red, white, and blue bunting.  I am grateful to have been born an American citizen rather than, say, a woman in Pakistan or China, or any number of African nations. I’m not a ‘my country right or wrong’ person, but I do believe we have tremendous potential for good (even if we’re missing the mark right now).  I absolutely will go to a home-grown, small town, old fashioned 4th of July parade, if only because they’re so homey and cute that I can’t resist. I can more or less be at peace with this holiday.

That being said….I would love to see the day come when we, as the human race, can inaugurate, embrace, and celebrate a new holiday…a joint holiday….InterDependence Day.  A day when we acknowledge and celebrate our interdependence as a species, and as a planet.

I’ll leave you with the President’s speech at the end of the first “Independence Day” movie.

President Thomas Whitmore’s Speech from the movie “Independence Day”

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!  We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

Middle age ,and insomnia isn’t all that great.

Why am I awake at 2:30 in the morning?  I kind of know why – despite all of my intentions and determinations and plans – I eat wheat, and I eat dairy.  I do not stay Whole30, and I don’t stay Paleo.  And what happens?  I wake up in the middle of the night with so much joint pain that I wiggle and flip and toss and turn and vow to meditate if I can’t sleep and I finally get up.  I tried to make it to 3am (only an hour before my M/T/TH/F wake up time!) but I couldn’t.  I even took an aspirin.  No luck.

So here I am.  The cat ate breakfast (I think) and went back to sleep somewhere. (I think).  I haven’t let the dog out of her crate yet – she apparently thinks I’m kind of crazy to get her up at 4:30, so I’m not going to push it and get her up at 3am.  Not if I don’t have to.

I went around opening windows while the coffee brewed, and noticed to my amazement that the paper was already on the lawn. OK, I’m using the term ‘lawn’ somewhat loosely.  That’s a different rant…..anyway, the paper was already here.  When the heck does the paperperson come?  Midnight?  Is today’s news actually yesterday’s news?  I suppose, in reality, it almost has to be.  Anyway, I went outside and got it…..stood on the walkway for a few moments, savoring the cool darkness, and the fragrance of the night.  I also unsavored my neighbor’s security light, which essentially shines in my bedroom window all night (or would, if I didn’t have cardboard in the window to block the light) and illuminates my front porch, whether I want it to or not.  Then I thought – well, it’s ambient security light on his nickle, not mine.  Mollified a bit, I went inside.

So, back to the insomnia thing…middle age.  I guess that’s what you call it…of course, I’m 55 and change, so I guess this is middle age if I live to be 110.  Maybe late 80s/early 90s if I’m lucky and careful, but 110?  Probably not.

Ya know, if it weren’t for the aches, pains, wrinkles, social disregard, and need for warfare-level weightloss attempts, being a post-menopausal woman would be an absolute hoot.  Well, ok, maybe not a hoot, per se….but not so bad.  It’s kind of freeing.  I’m still figuring out how to be free, but my current motto is something like “Live and let live.  I’ll do me, you do you.  Peace and love and all that happy stuff.  Don’t like it?  Don’t look.  Got a problem?  Bite me.”

My mother didn’t know how to avoid the terror of social approbation, didn’t know how to teach me to avoid it, and – to the best of my knowledge – hasn’t figured it out yet, at the distinguished age of….83, I think.  This, in my mind, is in distinct contrast to some of the things my own peer group (females) are saying and thinking.  The one that comes to mind immediately is a few days ago.  I walked into my boss’s office (she’s just a few years older than me) to find her sitting at her desk with the oddest expression on her face.  I asked her what was up, and after clearly fishing for words for a moment, she looked at me and said “….you know….maybe it’s my age…but it’s like..I don’t know….it’s like the filter fell off of my brain, and words just come flying out of my mouth before I even can stop them!”  I cracked up, and told her she wasn’t alone in that.

I still struggle with my mother’s insecurities- it’s sometimes like being a twin in my own body.  (my mom is a Gemini, is there something to discuss here…?)  Anyway….right now, my hair is waist length, mostly unmanaged, free of hair dye, and rapidly greying.  I like my hair – until I don’t.  Somehow this evil little voice keeps popping up about how I’d look younger and more professional and people would like me better and take me more seriously if I cut colored curled bobbed styled blah blah blah.  Same with clothes and weight and pedicures and most of all, job/career.  That one is a huge red button for me – especially since my job is a pink-collar one.   Plus, I’m entering the age of invisibility – aw, hell, I’m a decade into it.

Multiple paragraphs into this, I’m circling back to insomnia.  When I was going through perimenopause in my 40s (an honest-to-god bona fide veritable hell of a decade, incidentally), I started the waking up in the middle of the night thing.  But then, it was tachycardia, anxiety attacks, and hot flashes.  I don’t get much of all that anymore…sometimes, every once in awhile.  Now, it’s mostly joint pain, and just…awakeness.  Not busy brain, or worries….just pain.  Sometimes if I let myself wander down that mental pain, I can talk myself into a weary tizzy, with fretting like “omg…what if all this joint pain is some weird and exotic form of cancer?”  Right.  So, empirical (lots and lots and lots of empirical) experiential data has clearly shown me that several factors/behaviours dramatically decrease night pain and improve sleep:

  1.  Avoidance of grain and dairy
  2. No caffeine after 11am or so
  3. Sufficient and varied exercise
  4. Less weight = less pain

And there you have it, in a nutshell.  How hard is that?

Well, harder than one might think, apparently.

Grain and dairy?  Ubiquitous.  It’s in EVERYTHING. Everything that is oowey gooey yummy, anyway…

If you don’t drink soda (sugar or lysol-facsimile chemicals, anyone?), or milk (blech), it’s almost impossible to go anywhere and do anything and not have caffeine.  Hello, I live in the PNW.  It’s what we do – meet for coffee.  I mean, it’s just what we do. We also drink alcohol – yep…calories.  So nix on the alcohol, at least when out and about. (on the porch at home is an entirely different topic.  I choose to believe the porch thing somehow ameliorates the calories). Anyway….no caffeine after noon or so basically equals water.  I like water.

Sufficient and varied exercise…well, I just don’t want to talk about that right now.  I”ll talk about it some other time.

Less weight = less pain.  I really don’t want to talk about that.  Well, yes I do, actually. My mom was right – she said the older you get, the harder it is to lose.  She was so very very right.  I am super motivated!  I have relatives coming to visit (including my mom) who I want to look fabulous to!  I’ve known for almost a year that they’re coming!  ……I’ve lost approximately 7 pounds.  *SIGH*….I have two more months.  Also, there are….well…romantic prospects out there (enough on that for right now).  And there are clothes in the closet that I’m…not…quite…in….yet…..

Today is another day.  I can still get into them.  I have 2 months before the bios (biological family) get here.

Oh, look.  In only 15 minutes, my 4am alarm would have been going off, had I not had INSOMNIA.

Live from RainHaven..