Baby Steps

Everything is baby steps now. From my resolutions to the national economy, it seems we are slowly finding our way back to solid ground. I started meditating today: 3 minutes. Not great, but I told myself that if Noah Rasheta’s toddler (of Secular Buddhism) can do 3 minutes, then anyone can. This includes me.

Morning started with breakfast and dishes. The shower happened last night, since my prefrontal cortex is evidently stronger in the evening than when I first get up. I quit eating so much crap and decided that hot chocolate has to be relegated to the evening before bed. If I crave chocolate and am dealing with sleepiness due to inflammation, then I might as well put that to use. Today I decided I have to get the weight gain that I’ve started in hand. I ate a good, reasonable breakfast of turkey and toast at 5am and am not snacking — no matter if I’m hungry, bored, happy or sad, until lunch at 12pm. I am so hungry, but I’m also determined to turn around what is happening.

I messaged back the guy that had messaged me on Treeleaf back toward the end of April. I still don’t really know what to say, but hopefully I have a new penpal.

I started working on my goals again and read 4 or 5 koans in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I still have a lot to do on my list, but its only 9am and the day is young.

notice: these are not affiliate links but I highly recommend them anyway

Slump

I’m currently suffering a lack of motivation to do anything. THIS is a problem. Daily IOU’s to exercising, inserting ramen and mac n cheese back into my diet, and sleep problems are taking their toll. My phone is in the process of failing. The only worse things that could break would be the Playstation, TV, or my laptop. I ordered a Samsung A50 and I really hope it works well when I get it. To save money I bought it refurbished. I’ll probably get it in one to two weeks. The case is coming on Saturday, which is good, because I haven’t broken a phone yet, even though I drop them, and I’ve seen multiple people that don’t use cases that drop phones and end up with broken screens.

My therapist is probably leaving soon. My online listener has decided to charge for services, and so I can’t pay for that, so I won’t be talking to them for much longer. I think my big problem is my birthday is coming up and its not going to be a big deal. My parents are in the at-risk age group so they can’t come visit. My sister and brother-in-law don’t really celebrate birthdays. And I needed to deposit the money my parents sent me into savings because I spent so much yesterday.

I ordered some optional things yesterday as well. Like personal care materials to coax myself back into scrubbing and showering and made sure I looked presentable today. I originally took a one week break from my routine because I was sick with a light fever and fatigue, and I finished the main storyline for Fallout 76 just before the new Wastelanders update that changed just about EVERYTHING in the game. (The changes are extremely cool however.)

I need to get it together again and do more than just wandering aimlessly in the game again or around the house. Wish me luck, pray for me, or send blessings or all of the above.

Song

Music has been there when I wake up in the morning lately. Internal music. If it was persistent and everything was breaking into song, I’d worry about aneurysms, but there is no headache, and its a nice change from the past auditory problems I’d been having.

It started one morning when I woke to the words of ‘Sun and Moon,’ a song mainly in Korean by Sam Kim. Part of the chorus is in English and that is what was running through my head in the morning. Curiosity piqued, I used Google Translate to translate the Korean part of the song and found it, very apropos. The next morning was ‘Exhale’ by Plumb. Weirdly I had a bit of a nightmare last night but woke up to ‘Faith’ by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande.

My dreams have always been the opposite to what I’m feeling in the day time. When I’m stressed, sad, and scared they are most conciliatory and extremely positive. When I am doing better they are neutral to negative, sometimes pointing out flaws or problems to work on. This is a weird “both” of the above category it seems. What should be a nightmare combined with some warm music as I’m waking. As if to take a bit of the sting out of what I dreamed or what I’ve secretly been worrying about.

Sleep dreams, Day dreams, I’d get lost in them when I was younger. Once in a while I fell out of bed laughing to dreams that seemed to come true later. Twice, for no apparent reason. I still experience deja vu on a regular basis, but nothing as cut and dry as it was back in those two instances. These songs seem just another mystery I don’t know how to react to in my universe. I’m not sure I believe it anymore. I’m rather sure I don’t, but I’ll close today with the short words of a lullaby I heard once growing up, “Sleep Child, and when you do, dream a dream to drift you through the night, that lingers through the day. Tonight, if dreams be few, I’ll sing this lullaby for you. Sleep Child, for dreams always come true.” a bientot. Sweet Dreams whatever they may be.

Open

I open the page and stare at blankness before me. Today is the second day in April, and I open my heart to my online friends and try to be less shielded about my opinions and preferences. I thought in meeting so many people online, (and in so many in-person interactions before coronavirus meant we had to hunker down and enforce social distancing) that I was being vulnerable and taking risks.

In reality I was still going through the motions and trying not to have opinions; I was fighting tooth and nail not to express what few opinions I did form. This is exacerbated by a decision I made about 15 years ago about not wanting to be smart; I wanted to be happy. I dropped a lot of the learning and started learning about social norms and trying to fit in wherever I went. I was trying to save myself from the excruciating pain I felt had resulted in self-destructive behavior, but I see now it was at the least the wrong choice, or at the very worst, a false choice.

I cannot stay wrapped in bubble wrap forever, and I cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. Not without losing myself and not without cost. In retrospect, the only one I probably was fooling was myself. I feel behind in every which way again and needing to figure out how to cope without numbing with food or sleep, my socially sanctioned go-tos. I thought I was being brave and vulnerable, but I am the poster-child for Brene Brown’s The Price of Invulnerability.. The only symptom (of a lack of vulnerability) missing is Perfectionism.

I don’t know when to set aside time to research my opinions and have data to back them up. Right now I’m studying office software and books related to a job search that had to be put on hold. My sister, brother-in-law and I all have lung problems and COVID is not kind to those with lung diseases. But I need to start sometime soon or I’m going to forever be in limbo, afraid of expressing myself for fear I am reaching only with emotion and ignoring data and precedent in everything I do.

I have a lot of time to spend.. and yet the time seems to still race by. I know I won’t ever be fully satisfied; I know I will never finish. But somethings that can’t be finished are the stuff of life and I know I need to start and run the race. I know I need to open my heart, or I will truly be alone and unable to make real connections with people the rest of my days.

Resources for Ambiverts and Extroverts Regarding COVID19

I must be more social than I thought, because this time of not going out is really starting to wear on me. When I took the Myers-Briggs 16 personality test I was equally split between Introvert and Extrovert, meaning that I’m an Ambivert. Here are some resources that you can use if you find yourself needing to communicate or talk with people. Some in text, some using video conferencing to unite people with similar interests or beliefs.

First, if you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, here is a page of the wordpress blog devoted to links for working remotely:
https://wordpress.com/blog/2020/03/20/remote-work-reader/

And a primer on working from home for newbies from PCmagazine:
https://www.pcmag.com/news/get-organized-20-tips-for-working-from-home

What I truly wanted to reference right now however is different resources I’ve found online to keep in contact with people and different spiritual services that I’ve found online the majority of which are free or donation-based.

Photo by Debadutta on Pexels.com

Free Wellness Resources

  • 7 Cups of Tea http://7cups.com This site features 1:1 chat with briefly trained listeners and a forum that covers many different mental health and wellness topics. Listener quality can be hit or miss, so if the first one isn’t so great try again. Newbies are more available but tend to vary in quality. Verified listeners who have tested to a certain level are better but tend to be more overbooked and harder to connect with. Forums are always available. If you feel you need a daily therapy connection, therapists are available but it is $150 dollars per month for that service. This is a lot less than in-person visits on a weekly basis, but may be out of your price-range, so unless you have that much money to spare I’d advise against the three day therapy trial.
  • SparkPeople http://www.sparkpeople.com Fitness, nutrition, and health site, Message boards and blogs available. Teams to huddle and talk with. Ad-heavy. It can be worth the 4.99 a month to subscribe if you can do that, just to avoid all the ads although there are a lot of other features to the premium service as well.

Productivity Games

  • Habitica www.habitica.com Who says productivity can’t be fun or communal?! Habitica has Guilds, which are a little like message boards for particular interests, all the while you level up your character by completing tasks that you set up in a early Nintendo-esque RPG art type format. If you enjoy the site, you can support it by buying gems for premium features at 20 gems per 5.00. You earn gold through your many tasks, habits and to-do lists.
The begining base character (customizable) in Habitica
  • SuperBetter http://www.superbetter.com SuperBetter is the game that Jane McGonigal (of Reality is Broken and SuperBetter, the book, fame) developed for herself to recover from a brain injury. Like Habitica, it is loosely based on the concept of an RPG where you are the hero. I didn’t stay on the site as long as I did Habitica, but I offer it on the chance that someone else will like it better than the largely list based Habitica (which I preferred). There is a text-based community, but it is harder to maintain friendships and acquaintances than in Habitica’s Guild and Party system. If you want to know more before you dive in, watch Jane’s Ted Talks on Reality is Broken or SuperBetter. She’s a very engaging orator and her ideas are intriguing.

Religious Services

Unitarian
Church of the Larger Fellowship
https://www.facebook.com/CLFUU meets on Facebook and has an interactive service on Sundays, once a week. People are friendly and engaging. Tends to be politically progressive in tone.

Soto Zen Buddhist
Treeleaf Zendohttps://www.treeleaf.org/ an online Sangha of understanding human beings. There is a forum and online group meditation practice at various times.

(I know there are others.. if you have an interactive service and would like me to add it to the list, please send me a comment using the contact page.)

Miscellaneous Online Gatherings

Silent Book ClubVirtual Meetings
https://silentbook.club/blogs/blog/virtual-silent-book-club Fear not, fearless readers, the silent book clubs TALK about what they’ve been reading first, and then all take the second half of their meeting to read the book of their choice. Something I find refreshing since I don’t usually enjoy the same types of books as everyone else. This page has a list of current virtual meetings which is kept current.

If there is a free resource you would like me to add to this page, please comment on the contact page and I will look into it and add it as soon as I can. Thank you!

Butterfly in Amber

3:31 AM

Not sure why I’m up this early. I’ve been waking to internal music in the morning, positive music, which is nice since I’ve been anxious about the new coronavirus going around. I went to bed shortly after 7pm last night, so I did get eight hours of sleep. I’m more than a little frustrated with the Democratic leadership right now. I guess the moment of unity has passed, even though we are still in a crisis.

Today, I will view one of my church’s Sunday sermon online. It feels odd to be expected to stay at home so many days. And all my days are melting into each other again, even though I am writing two short journal entries each day. I’m not sure what I can do to make the days stand out from each other again. I used to go out and do different things each day to help with that.

Yesterday and today I’ve read four short entries in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I hope to meditate soon. Hopefully I don’t fall to sleep straight away as I did last night. Then it will be shower. Then dishes. I reached level 50 yesterday in Fallout 76, so I’m not sure I’m going in today. Besides it’s Monday and I still have that lesson 6 of Excel 2019 to study so I don’t flunk the retest of ‘What If Analysis’ and flunk the course. Its continuing education and self-study at your own pace, but if I don’t pass (over 70%) then I must wait 365 days before taking the course again.

I phoned Mount Olive and they closed services and aren’t sure with the pandemic when they are going to be interviewing. I did ask via FB on the post thanking applicants for applying if there was as date by which we would know if we were selected for interview or not.

It is hard to wait, but I live in Washington State and they are already planning to ration health care, with a mind toward helping the most likely to survive get through this. This is not good news for me, since I have an underlying lung condition, which I set off momentarily yesterday just by sneezing. Still, I understand why. They are developing state-wide rules for triage so individual doctors and nurses don’t have to make the life and death decisions. Its a little terrifying though. I think I’m a little less likely to go in for it if the emphasis is on palliative care for people like me and making us comfortable at the end. (Ref. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/us/coronavirus-in-seattle-washington-state.html) I guess the only thing to do is to not get sick, as impossible as that sounds.

Most people live, but if it is my time to go I don’t have many if any regrets over the last year. I left my ex, in retrospect a very controlling relationship, and my blood pressure dropped from high to almost low. I lost weight (about 30 pounds), learned about insecure attachments, gained more confidence and more friends; I started learning about Taoism, Buddhism, and meditation. This has helped me with overwhelming bouts of emotion and brokenness that I didn’t know what to do with in my own tradition that I grew up in. We’ve changed my medication so that I’m more functional. I’ve reconciled myself to the fact I will probably be on iron supplements for the forseeable future. My sleep is finally restful because I have a CPAP machine rather than sleep interrupted over a 100 times an hour. I started volunteering again. I feel like I’m forgetting some things, but its been a good year.

This is not to say that I’ve been as ambitious as I should be right now regarding finding a job and moving out, or as focused. So maybe that’s a regret. I still have the disagreement I had with a friend about freaking out, but only because I know that when I freak out I freeze like a deer-in-the-headlights, burrow and play dead, dissolve into tears, or some combination of all of the above, so that’s not helpful. I’ve been very distracted, before knowing what was happening with the homeless and all the shut downs. I talked to a minister and he said I was fighting against the inevitable, and we all know what happens when you fight against what has been clearly allowed or decreed. Being sad, or disturbed by what is going on, doesn’t help them any and it distracts from what I need to be doing in my own life. I can’t help them and, as my friend so clearly pointed out, all I’m doing is possibly becoming one of them if I don’t tend to and fight for my own affairs.

State of March Resolutions

So I started this blog by addressing the different resolutions I was striving for this year. I have to admit they have expanded and that I’m not keeping them as well in wake of the coronavirus and insurance changes. I’ve been a bit distracted let us say. Oh well, no time like the present as people continue to tell me. For the new people these are my resolutions for 2020 (that I keep adding to).

1. Meditate Daily for 10-20 minutes. I started again 2 or 3 days ago. I practice Soto Zen-style zazen.

2. Start Eating Differently and lose weight. I’ve been eating differently than I was and cutting down on portions. I am finally going down in weight instead of upward.

3. Start Exercising. The exercise area of the basement is finally clean and I can start using the recumbant bike and eliptical today, which is important, because I’m trying to minimize going outside for walks.

4. (on hold) Expand my RL circle of friends. So I did this by volunteering my time but this has to stop for the time-being because of the COVID-19 things.

5. (on hold) Find work. This one also has to wait. I can apply and do phone interviews, but unless I find someone that will let me telecommute sight unseen, I’m part of the vulnerable population due to lung problems, so I’m not going anywhere.

6. Update my skills using Universal Class. Through my library I am enrolled in Continuing Education classes. The ones I’ve selected currently center around Office 2019.

location: downstairs at home mood: determined music: Symphony by Sarah Brightman