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Category: Breathe

Take a deep breath and let life’s worries wash through you.

Resting is hard, have some links

Resting is hard, have some links

I’ve been staring at this screen for at least an hour now, trying to decide how to start and what to say.

The truth is, I’m in pain. I’ve been caught by another days-long headache—one that doesn’t respond to even my prescription painkillers, seems like. It’s been off and on for about a week and a half now, so I’ve been able to do some things on the off days. Since yesterday morning the headache has been decidedly On, and I’m spending most of my energy taking care of myself and not giving depression an opening to stir up bad feelings.

It’s agonising to not be able to do the things I want to do because my body won’t cooperate. I have ideas and plans and dreams to implement! Words to write, but I can’t seem to reach them behind the fog of pain. I’m just watching time pass me by and getting more anxious about the things that need to be done that I can’t get doing.

An aloe plant perched on a windowsill looking out to a street.

But you know what? This is my experience. I fight the mindset that experiences are less valid when not accompanied by productivity. I fight that I am defined by what I am able to do. Why do I say that to other people, and then let myself beat myself up when I have days that I can’t breathe or can’t think for pain? Why do I hold myself to a different standard?

Those are questions to let myself sit with for a while. For you, some links to articles that are helping me pass the time during this headache.

On Barrenness and Lying Fallow: Esme Wang talks about damaging cultural beliefs about productivity and doing too much and navigating it and chronic illness. My chronic illnesses are different from hers, but they still define my day to day life—and I still have trouble recognising and accepting that.

To even categorize these days is a kind of self-punishment, because I can’t control how they happen. There is no magic formula for having a “good day” versus a “bad day.” I have a chronic illness. It doesn’t answer to me; I answer to it.

Slow Cooking Your Dreams: I have an idea I’m working on with a friend, and I told myself at the very beginning that it’s okay if it takes six months—or longer—just for us to decide on a domain name and what kind of content we want and who we’ll have to contribute. But let my Tarot dreams unfold in their own time? Never. Until I read this post. If I’m disrupting capitalism, I need to disrupt this myth within myself that I have to be productive to be getting somewhere.

We’ve been sold on the idea that what we desire must happen immediately, and that the longer it takes to arrive, the more of a reason we have to feel bad.

This is the premise we have collectively hooked into: things taking long is a perfectly legitimate reason to feel bad about our lives.

5 Productivity Hacks You Need Now: Not that we need more productivity hacks. This link was chosen for this acknowledgement that’s said so rarely:

This obsession with productivity defeats the purpose of a productivity hack. The purpose of a productivity “hack” is not to produce more but rather, to get better at what you’re producing so you actually have time to have coffee with a friend or read a comic.

Enjoy the links, help distract me by talking to me on Twitter, and talk to you again soon!

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Today’s to-do list is starting to feel oppressively long and scary, which means it’s time to do something that makes me nervous first: write it out.

Like I said earlier, the theme so far this year has been intense. This week has held my first committee meeting where I’m a co-chair and therefore leading discussion (terrifying for the quiet kid in the corner!), my birthday that same day, anxiety and fear about surgery next week (but who isn’t anxious about having surgery?), birthday celebrations all week, and intense studying alongside doubts and fears that going to law school is the right decision. Yesterday I had therapy, where we talked about how I’m handling all of these things, and then I came home, meditated, and felt like I needed an oracle card.

Felt like I needed a Faeries #oraclecards today. 47 – The Oak Men. So beautiful.

A photo posted by SJ Witchling (@sjwitchling) on

This old, wise, caring, powerful Faerie reminded me of many conversations I’ve had with my therapist: right now I am learning all I can about how I function best, in a world that wants to put me into a box that doesn’t quite fit. But the more I know about myself, the more grounded I feel, the more able to weather the storms that are coming. And they are coming: that’s what life is. Constant change. The more I stay connected to my roots, though, like the wise old Oak Men, the more I can stay myself while tossed around.

It was a good reminder that I’m on my side, not the side our culture expects me to be on.

I should go draw an oracle card for today (maybe I’ll draw one daily?), then take a practice test. This weekend is pretty busy again, but I’ll try to post on Monday—and of course keep up with me on Instagram and now also Twitter. All bets are off on whether I keep up with everything from Tuesday on, next week: recovering from surgery is going to be my main priority.

Climbing out of the hole

Climbing out of the hole

What a difficult month it’s been so far. There’s only one way I can describe it: intense. On Sunday, I spent some time reading about Mercury Retrograde and what it affects, then later told my mom over the phone that she needs to wait this period out. I don’t think MR affects me as strongly as other people in my life, but now I want to paint warning signs all over the people I love. For my mom: avoid travel and communication outside of your comfort zone. For a few friends: please stop having difficult conversations and ride out this period. Those conversations will go better in a few weeks.

For my part, intensity is playing out in not being able to go outside for days to protect my lungs, getting ready for surgery in two weeks, and planning to take the LSAT a few days later. I’ll be quoting one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde, extensively for the next two weeks. (“You don’t want to go to law school. Law school is for boring and serious people, and you, sweetheart, are neither of those things.”) Also, my birthday is next week, and it’s the first time I really can remember that I haven’t had someone else pushing me to make plans—instead, I’ve made plans well in advance.

A fancy humidifier on a table.
And this fancy new guy is keeping the air in my room at a good level of humidity to help my lungs work

But I still have my fair share of psychological gunk that I’ve been avoiding, and I’m not sure how to approach it. I definitely have been avoiding my Tarot practice. Do you just… start despite the fact that it’ll end in tears? I don’t cry easily, I don’t cry well, I am not sure how to deal with feelings, really. I have an inkling if I keep these in any longer, though, something bad will happen. And I don’t want that.

How do you get past periods of intense feelings? Do you stay in, ignore it, and ride it out? That’s what I’ve done for a long time, to avoid triggering depression on top of it, but that doesn’t feel right anymore. It feels like if I ignore the feelings, they’ll explode. And I definitely don’t want that on top of everything.

Macro shot of four oranges in a bowl
Oranges brought home from California to remind me that I’m loved

So I’m a bit lost right now. I wish I could tell you that I’m on my way to finding my way, but I just don’t know if that would be right. Everything right now is too intense.

Made it through the longest night

Made it through the longest night

This morning, I flipped off the last few weeks as the cloud cover brightened with the sun coming up after the longest night. I tried to stay up all night, but between having a million things to do and my health being volatile, I took a 3-hour nap in the wee hours.

But I still got up before sunrise to make sure to see the night through.

Two candles lit atop a desk.

As I wrote in my last post, this is the time of year that’s hardest for me. And I doubt I’m out of the woods yet, but it feels like a burden has been lifted. From here on out, I’m hoping to have more energy to do the things that matter to me. Be with the people who are important to me. Figure out my Pagan path. Decide what my next steps are in life. Come end of February, it’s time for me to have concrete next steps about how I’m going to survive and thrive. I haven’t touched my Tarot cards in too long, but I’m definitely about to pick them up again. It’s time to wake up from my hibernation and start my life again.

Time out

Time out

Yesterday, my wrists screamed at me, “Enough! We refuse to do anything more.” This on top of a building migraine of three days, on top of the heartache of the last week, on top of everything going on has been just too much. I took the time out. I didn’t get better. I guess I have to keep staying away from the computer and the knitting and keep trying to survive through the pain. Wish me luck, and hopefully I’ll be back in the Tarot swing of things soon.

Adding meditation to my life

Adding meditation to my life

There are a million articles about there telling you about the power of meditation. There are a million articles telling you all the right reasons to do it. There are a million articles telling you all the different types of meditation (and a million apps to help you with that, too).

There are far fewer articles, I find, talking about how it feels to meditate regularly. I don’t understand why not. In my experience, it’s a whole lot easier to do something you “should” do, that’s “good” for you, when you also enjoy the activity.

So here’s my post about adding meditation to my life.

I’ve considered meditating daily off and on over the past few years, but I’ve never tried as much as I could. It took me a long time to get past feeling like a failure because I didn’t do it perfectly that first time I tried. Or the second time. Or the third time. It’s HARD to trick your brain past “I didn’t do this right, I can’t really do it.” But between depression and anxiety, I’m having a lot of practice tricking my brain into better patterns, and a lot of support in doing that.

This time, when I decided I wanted to start meditating daily, I gave myself a few guidelines:

  • Experiment with different types of meditation every day. Do I want a guided meditation? (I highly recommend the buddhify app if you’re looking for guided meditations for every situation!) Do I just want to listen to soft rain for five minutes? What about bells and instrumental music? How about staring at a candle in silence? So far, I haven’t tried silence, because it seems a lot harder for me, but I like mixing up guided meditations with listening to soft sounds and doing my own meditation.
  • Would it help to have a buddy to check in with it every day? YES! I asked a good friend to help check up on me every day, someone who also is interested in trying to meditate every day. It has been excellent encouragement to both check in on a dear friend and keep myself mindful of whether or not I’ve practiced today.
  • My most important guideline: I am practicing. If I miss a day, all right, try again tomorrow. If I spent a whole five minutes wrestling my thoughts to shoo so I could focus on my breathing, that’s okay, because I am practicing. That’s a great trick for my brain, that the phrase “daily practice” also connotes “practicing”, as in I don’t have to be perfect right now. I’m working on it, and that’s fine. Every day is a new time to pick myself up and try again.

I really am not good at doing this daily right now. Between anxiety toward doctors’ offices and my body being less-than-energetic, most of my week has been spent taking care of myself. But it’s okay, because it’s a practice. And the weirdest thing, the thing I never thought would happen, the thing that leaves me in awe?

When I actually make the time to meditate, I actually love doing it.

There you go. The big secret that all the how-to articles forget to tell you. Meditation is good for you, sure, whatever, but when all is said and done, I only want to do things if they make me feel good. And when I’m done meditating for a few minutes, I feel light. My brain has a chance to rest from the hamster wheel of anxiety, and I can feel the energy my body has worked up slowing down and grounding itself. Even after just five minutes, I feel better, more alert and energized and ready to tackle things. Less likely to get stuck in an anxiety-loop of feelings and annoying thoughts.

So I’m going to keep it. It’s not reasonable to expect myself to actually meditate every single day, but that is my goal. And it’s practice. When I get better at it, I’ll be able to do more with it. I’m looking forward to that, but I am also happy that just a little bit every day is making me feel good to be in my body.

What “good for you” things do you actively enjoy doing? Have you tried something that someone told you you “should” do and suddenly you love it, too? What are your thoughts on it?

Ouch, body. Why you gotta make things hard on me?

Ouch, body. Why you gotta make things hard on me?

I ignored some warning signs yesterday that I was working too hard, and today I’m paying the price. I struggled to wake up this morning, feeling pinned down by my dreaming, and once I did come to full consciousness, my body felt run over. My right arm was in serious pain last night, which I hoped wrist braces overnight would cure, but nope, still pain.

So, I better scale today back to the basics, even though yesterday I decided that the basics should have some more things. (More on that later!) Maybe I’ll get myself moving for half an hour as well, do some pilates, since I miss it a lot (and maybe that’ll put my arm back in order). Meditation, tea, food, trying not to use my right arm, and a little bit of Tarot: that’s what’s on tap for me today. Wishing I could work on all the back end things I’ve been working on, but that’s what I can do, and doing what you can do is extremely important.

Struggles

Struggles

Dealing with exhaustion is tiring. I’ve spent the last week wondering where all my energy has gone instead of where all my time has gone. I know where my time is. I just can’t seem to do things as quickly as I used to, nor can I do as much as I used to.

It’s frustrating to think that a couple of years ago, if I were on a trip, I’d be out and about all day and able to keep going the next day. This week, I can only stand to be out for a couple of hours before I lose all my energy. I’m not particularly asthmatic, I seem to be getting enough sleep, I’m eating good amounts through the day… I want to be patient that this too will pass, that this is just my body recovering from a few months of too much stress.

But it’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to let myself take a break. I’m breaking up with societal norms that people can just work all the time and not need breaks. That the body is a machine that keeps on going whether you like it or not. And breaking up with that means wrestling with my doubts about it and the approval of others’.

And yet my body won’t let me NOT take a break. So here I am, doing the best I can to shut down the brain weasels and keep resting, while yearning to go out and do lots of exciting things. It’s a struggle to be okay with where I am right now.

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