TRIGGERS – Winds of Change

Thursday evening. I thought I would start my thoughts since it’s running. It’s another day with strange weather. I felt it coming on last night though I didn’t know it then. What I felt was irritability, a sense of dissatisfaction. I didn’t act out or on it though. Hooray for me! Instead I thought each thought and feeling through. It was only in the morning that I checked the weather forecast. It was after I had carried all my trays of seedlings outside. The guy asked me why I did that. It was going to be cold and windy by 10. I was surprised because it was so beautiful and sunny. I thought I would give the plants an early outing.

Now I am quite sure that weather changes are a trigger for when I am not so copacetic. I hate being a weather vane but knowing it enables me to have more control if not sleep. It is Friday morning. I’ve been up forever – since 1 am. I tried reading and taking a tylenol. I did fall asleep after awhile only to wake up again when I went back to bed. Instead of tossing and turning in bed, I got up, made LAB for my plants and then drawing and painting a watercolour for #the100dayproject. They are 2 things today that needed doing. I won’t fall too far behind or apart if I tank out during the day. Now I will be heading off to my exercise class. I don’t have to drive. So no worries.

Now it is almost 10 pm. The day was a bit of a blur but not at all a disaster. I did not nap and even read a bit here and there. Nothing to brag about but not crying the woes either. I hope we get some sun and heat soon. It does not look like we will get summer

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It’s the start of another Wednesday – exercise class and write it day. It’s good to have a schedule, a routine. It helps to keep me on track. I should schedule a clean house day, too. I remember I had to dust on Saturdays when I was a kid. It worked then. It will work again. What a great way to start the day, getting ideas and finding solutions. I hate the feeling of being stuck, of no movement and nowhere to go first thing in the morning.

I love waking up early especially now when it’s already light by 6 o’clock. I saw 2 people out walking already at 6:30. Clearly they’re disciplined early birds. I’m up but I like to lull around. I did my meditation this morning but I was not in the present moment at all. My mind went wandering as soon as I turned on my usual recording. I tried to bring my attention back again and again. It was no small feat and I was not very successful. That’s how it was and that’s how it is with life. We try. We succeed or lose or don’t lose or gain. We try again and again. It’s call living. Nothing is static, not even when we think we are. The things around us change. They don’t wait till we’re ready.

I guess this is my self/pep talk to keep me moving, present and on track. My days are like my paintings. The outcome depends on how much effort I put in. Even then the results are different from day to day. I don’t come with a ton of energy. I am slow as molasses in winter. I can only handle so much – people and activity. Needless to say, I don’t have a load of friends. I am not a party goer. I don’t accomplish a lot in a day. I did a little grocery shopping for my mom this afternoon. It came to only $45.00 and I’m pooped. Everything takes a lot of effort. One thing I can say for myself is that I do make the effort – every day. No matter the size, any effort is no small feat for me. I tread water a lot.

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It’s Monday afternoon and one of those days I’m hit with a large dose of laziness and sleepiness. I said I would come to this space Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I am here and the show must go on. It’s too early in the game for a no show. That’s a major problem for me. I set up a program but I can’t keep it up for very long. I fall back to my old ways. I tread water alot. Let’s see if I can break the cycle.

I’ve picked up some papers off the dining room table and taken them to the recycle bin. While I was out, I put all my seedling trays back in the greenhouse. The sky has turned grey and it is cool with the wind. It is better to put things away now rather than later. I’m remembering my new motto – do it now, not tomorrow. I win some. I lose some.

I had resolved not to dwell on Naomi and the Judds too much but it’s a hard task. I am now reading Ashley’s book All That is Bitter and Sweet. It got some not favourable reviews on Goodreads. I have not ventured far into it but it is interesting to read her take on things. It is a bit different from her mother’s. It goes to show that we each have our version of truth, of what happened. My truth is I missed the Monday deadline. I am now into Tuesday. I felt it wiser to go to bed early rather than staying up to finish this post. I am sure it would make sleep harder to come.

It is another not so cheery day. It is cool, cloudy with the sun coming up now and then. I/we cannot expect the sun to pull us up all the time. I/we have to do our part. For me it is essential to get up, dress up and show up for the real thing as well as the dress rehearsal. Practice does make for better. And sometimes we have to fake it till we make it as part of who we are. I do not want to wallow in my or others’ depression. I am very permeable to absorbing all kinds of emotions from everywhere and everyone. I have finally at this late date learned about boundaries.

I have in the past gone overboard in being too caring for others. Is there such a thing? I don’t mean to sound like I am a super good person. I am not but I had felt it was a duty to care, even at my own expense. What happened was I got resentful and critical about these situations. I did not feel generous or caring at all. It made me unhappy and more critical of myself. It was no way to be. Now I am learning to sort things out, how to care for myself as well as others.

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It’s Friday, Chinese AirForce Day, as someone once called it. I took the bait and asked why. He said, It’s F-l-y-day. Would you call that a racial slur? Anyways, I chuckled like a good agreeable Chinese woman. I wasn’t offended, honest. I’m a little sleep deprived. I couldn’t sleep past 3 this morning. I hate it when that happens. And it does occasionally, especially when the weather shifts. I whine about the weather alot. Not only it disrupts my sleep but also my moods.

There’s alot I could whine about but I’m too tired. My edginess have worn off and I’m pretty mellow. My AM Energizer class certainly helped. My serotonin level was further elevated by lunch with the “YWCA” girls, our first in 2 years at the Parktown. We had a good time but we do miss the buffet which is no more. So many changes in 2 years. The diningroom was mostly empty except for us. It was a good and bad thing at the same time.

I am just poking along here, keeping up with my routines. I have just finished reading Naomi Judd’s book, River of Time and watched Ashley Judd speaking to Diane Sawyer about her mother’s suicide by a firearm. So sad! I have to be careful that I don’t dwell on all this too much. I am not emotionally fragile but vulnerable. Having experienced depression myself, I admire and have great respect for Naomi and her two daughters. Life is hard and messy and their lives certainly were. Wyona described it perfectly when she said they literally went from the shit house to the White House. What a journey and what an adjustment. Now they have more to adjust to. River of Time is a worthwhile read.

I am happy to say that I have a handle on my moods. Knock on wood. I have worked very hard every day to maintain good mental health. I have read countless books on the subject. I’ve put what I’ve learned to practice. One of those was getting Sheba. She took me out of the house and out of my bad moods. I got a heavy dose of nature and exercise. We went out rain, snow or sunshine. We were more regular than the mailman. Now she’s gone but she’s prepared me well. She certainly had earned her keep. I love her forever – then and now.

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I hate it when my mind is stuck in overthoughts. I bet you’re thinking, why don’t you stop but it is not that easy to get my mind out of my head. I know. I’m whining again but I’m leaving it just on the page. You don’t have to listen/read. It helps me to splash it out and not let things swirl around in my head. It can be very exhausting. It takes all my energy and I get nothing done. I haven’t been meditating the last while. Let this time here be my morning meditation.

The morning has progressed into afternoon. My overthinking would not let the words flow. I moved on to the next best thing – doing my draw/watercolour for #the100dayproject. It worked. My pen and paint brush flowed effortlessly. I felt soothed and smoothed with a painting to show. When one thing doesn’t work, don’t stay stuck. Don’t try think it out, move on and try something different.

Now if only I can heed my own advice. Habits are hard to overcome. I must persevere and not give up because of a few failings. I must adopt the 1000 hour rule of practicing a new activity till it becomes a habit. Life is easier with good habits in tow. Life would be easier, too, if I don’t overthink and overdo. When I find myself pursuing everything and anything, to get to the bottom of things, to understand everything, anything and everyone…. it’s time to STOP. There’s nothing to figure out, to understand. There’s no answer to the whys of my thoughts.

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It is Monday morning, another first day of the rest of my life. It is time to fulfill one of my do-it-list of showing up here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is not a hard thing. I can do it now that I’ve made it as an intention. My new motto is not to make intentions that I’m not going to keep. Words are important. They matter. If you don’t live up to them, no one will believe you ever after. They would guffaw and say, Oh, she’s just talking. Don’t pay any attention. She doesn’t mean it.

Another Mother’s Day is over. Have I told you that I have fallen out with all these occasions – birthdays, Christmas and Easter, too? I am exhausted by the idea that we are obligated to feel celebratory, joyful and all that jazz. I feel guilty and bad for saying all this, but not bad enough because I am saying it. Anne Lamott says it much better in a piece she wrote about Mother’s Day in 2015. Needless to say, she received not a small amount of flak. I suppose I will, too, even though and more so because my voice is small. It does not carry much weight.

It’s not that I have anything against joy and celebrations. It is not that I don’t love my mother and motherhood. I feel uncomfortable. I have adopted all these occasions and traditions because it is ‘the right thing to do.’ When in Rome do as the Romans. But when you are not Roman, you can’t quite pull it off authentically. Everything felt fake and not as good, especially when I was young. It left me feeling less of everything. Things have changed over the years and now we seem to have a monoculture. The whole wide world is celebrating Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. You would think that would make me feel better. But it has left me feeling that things are more meaningless.

So what to do? I do not like feeling like this. I don’t want to be a badass. I’m a bit of a rebel but I’m not great at it. The thing to do is to adopt those wanted warm fuzzy good feelings and fake them till they become real. Enough said but one thing more. I tried to do all that stuff regularly if not every day, in my own ways. I love and care for my mother every day and not just on the official Mother’s Day. I used to buy her presents. Now I give her my time and attention. Still, at times it is hard to quiet the voice that say’s buy her something. So I do Chinese take-out to feed us both.

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So..I’m experiencing a low grade kind of the blues. It’s the kind of nibbles on the edges of my mind, keeping me a bit uncomfortable, feeling guilty, feeling selfish. It’s whispering to me that I can do more, be more of this and that. It’s kind of convincing though not necessarily the truth. I thought it best I come here and toss things around like you would a salad. The heavy stuff tend to sink to the bottom. I like to bring some of them up to the top. I like to have a good look at them.

I had to get another cup of tea, of course, and have a scroll through social media and star gaze a little. Not that I am such a fan of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urbane. I’ve seen some of her movies but I’ve never listened to his music. I like Johnny Depp as an actor, but he is kind of a scary dude with a sinister smile. And all those rings! I bet they can cause serious damage if they connect with your face. I’ve never heard of Amber Heard before this but I believe her. I am really surprised at how much support Johnny Depp is getting and how much trashing Amber is getting, even from women. But enough of this movie stars shit. What about me?

Yes, what about me? I’m trying not to let my moods and feelings interfere with life. I am listening to them and giving them due respect. The thing is no matter how I feel, I still have to get up, dress up and show up. No matter what, I would feel better if I wash my face, brush my teeth and fashion my hair in the morning. I’m really wisening up – late. It’s better than never. I could save myself time and angst if I develop some good followup habits. What do I mean? Okay, some examples:

  • meditate every moring to clear my mind. It helps to keep distraction to a minimum.
  • complete each task and put everything back in place before moving on
  • write down reminders
  • do what I can today rather than tomorrow
  • throw out things that are of no use today rather than tomorrow
  • make a daily schedule of what needs/want to do
  • schedule regular write times here. So I will show up here Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. They coincide with my aerobic exercise classes. They will be my whining times to get things off my chest, to hatch new ideas, to mark my progresss.

I think this is enough for today. Best keep it short and not overwhelm myself. Too much could and would throw me off track. I have successfully tossed my salad. The weighty stuff dealt with and nothing nagging on the edges of my mind. No voices whispering in my ear.

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I have mixed feelings at the end of one month and the beginning of a new one. I am glad and sad. Glad to have closure of the old and a new beginning. I’m always sad saying farewell to the known and old. It is good to see the backside of April, the month of uncertainty. April wasn’t winter any more but it wasn’t quite spring either. We’ve had ups and downs. One day it was hot, the next cold with snow. Can we safely say that it is now definitely spring?

I definitely feel lighter and brighter. So glad that many challenges done. The Tax Return done and over for another year. The Ultimate Blog Challenge over. April Love over. I have about 22 days left in #the100dayproject. I have 22 drawings/watercolour to go. I’m working on putting together last year’s 100 quilt squares together. I have to sew 4 quilt squares to make one block. I now have 8 blocks. So 17 blocks to go. After that I have to put the 25 blocks together, add quilt battling, backing and sew everything together. It is best not to think of it all at once. I’m sure to overwhelm myself that way.

Now it is 2 days after April, 1:33pm. Lunch is over and dishes done. This is the worst time of day for me. I’m usually hit with overwhelming fatigue and sleepiness. Today is not as bad though I do lack ambition and energy. I am pushing myself to do my necessary activities of daily living. It takes effort and willpower but hey, nobody says anything is easy. I am sad to hear about Naomi Judd’s death due to mental illness. She had always been opened and outspoken about her depression. I do like the Judd’s music but I am not what you would call an ardent fan. I feel the connection because we are women and I have suffered depression. Who hasn’t? And I was also a nurse.

Because of Naomi, I am feeling a little more vulnerable today. I am more sensitive to the need of taking better care of our mental as well as physical health. No matter who we are, how rich, how famous, we all age and suffer the same. It is important to know ourselves and others and the world around us. It is important to keep putting one foot in front of the other the best we can every single day. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

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It’s amazing how easily and fast I can get derailed. Habits are, indeed, deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome. Coming back to my keyboard is another distraction and ploy of avoiding on what I need to do. But to give myself credit and not to feel totally weighed down with defeat, my tax return is mostly done. I just need to recheck it and push the send button. I have 3 days to do that. AND I’ve finally phoned for an appointment with my gynecologist. I’ve skipped out my checkups because of Covid. I was happy to have an excuse. What’s left weighing heavily on my plate?

  • Those damn paper clutter. Now that my tax return is mostly taken care of, I can peck at it. I better do a bit every day. There’s no escaping the pain of it. I have to schedule some time for it daily.
  • The garden thing. I had so many things done and growing last year by this time. I’m struggling with everything this year. But the greenhouse is doing well with all the greens. We can stop buying lettuce. There’s enough of lettuce, spinach and kale. We’re getting some radish. The outside raised bed has been seeded with salad greens the other day to take over from the greenhouse. But there’s seedlings to be transplanted into bigger pots and the sprouted squash seeds to be potted up, too. I’m sure there’s many other seeds that I need to start up. I’ve lost or I haven’t had a track of what or where to grow. It’s an ugly feeling. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and disappear.

It is 3 days later. I’ve hit the SEND button on my Tax Return. It is sent. I am another-thing-taken-care-of lighter. I’m almost ready for that first day of the rest of my life again. But first, I need to finish writing this post. I need to write this as the last post of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. True, I dropped out at almost midpoint but I still wrote 14 posts in April. And this is number 15 – a wrap up. I would not consider it a failure. Quitting is really wisdom on my part. I now know when to stop when something is not working any more. And how did I know?

  • I felt the fatigue of writing every day. It was no longer pleasureable.
  • I could not feel I had a purpose in being in the Challenge. I had no business or product to promote. I write because I love words and the creativity that comes from stringing ideas and words together. I didn’t have a good fit feeling.
  • I felt there was a competitiveness that was not good for me. I wanted to go back to writing for myself. It is good to engage with others but I could do that also on my own terms.
  • I was wishing for more time to do other things in my life. I needed time to tend to greenhouse, starting seeds for the garden. I need more time to care for my self, to read books I want to read…

At the end of the day/month, I am happy. I am not a complete dropout. I participated part of the month. I might participate again in the next challenge. Now that I am more aware of when to step back/off, it will be better the next time around.

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I’m on my second cup of tea, awaiting the snow storm. Perhaps it is a little early yet but the sky is steely grey. The sun is trying, a brisk breeze is stirring up the beautiful dead growth on the living roof of the shed. I flunked all 6 tries on Wordle. Now to make something of the day. Some days are easier than others. I’m hitting the not easier days. That’s how the cookie crumbles.

I know that this, too, will pass but what can I do in the meantime? There are many things that I could do. I just don’t feel like doing them. I don’t feel motivated, excited. Nothing grabs me. Nothing is wrong but everything feels bland and grey like cold, dirty dishwater and today’s sky. I guess I can pout and have a tantrum but what will that do? I can also do nothing and become more sodden. I’m sure that will lead to more boredom and misery. Better that I do a Suck it up, Buttercup and go through the motions -even if I don’t feel like it. That’s the penalty of being an adult.

I find it helpful to ask myself How does it feel? now and again. It is a good way of working through and out of my stresses and blahs. I’m not feeling so grey now, finding a hook to hang on to. It’s soothing tapping on the keys, making words and sentences. It builds me up as I find ways out of my blandness. I don’t need to hurry. I can take time, linger and savour these moments sitting here. It is rewarding to work and find a purpose, a reason to be.

This morning we went and got our fourth Covid vaccine. It was something we could do to help maintain our health. We made a couple of stops on the way home. One was to a mall to mail some letters and to buy mousse for my hair. I made a trip to the washroom while I was at it. It has been a long time, 2 years since I made a walk through the mall. I couldn’t remember where things were, having to follow the signs at first. There’s much change. Seems a bit silly but I was so happy to see the food court. The washrooms were just a hallway down. A flood of memories came rushing back – coffee with my mom and dad at the mall after our visits to the library. Such simple things can make me happy.

Our second stop was the library to return read books for different ones. It is snowing and the wind is howling. I am hunkered down snug as a bug with books to read, drawings to be drawn and splashed with paint. Oh, I have Hong Kong milk tea and barbecued pork buns from the Chinese store for treats. I am at ease. I am no longer stressed or feeling bland. Perhaps I was feeling the approach of the storm. I am such a weather vane.

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