Taking steps

This week has so many people I know so worried about what the future holds (me included.) I wrote up a long essay, over on the Seeking site, on Wednesday, about self-care in difficult times, but I also wanted to write here about what I’m doing in specific, about the results of the 2016 election, and moving forward.

So here’s what I’m doing: Pausing. Getting my house in order. Volunteering. Donating. Collecting and sharing information.

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What I’ve been up to

I got a very nice email from someone who liked my blog, and who noticed I hadn’t posted since last spring, hoping I was still all right. Which, yes! Just work is still eating most of my brains.

However, I thought it might be a good time to do a “What I’ve been up to” sort of round up, so here’s what I’ve been up to in July and August. (I went through and pulled numbers because I was sort of curious, and because I’ve been feeling like pieces of this are off balance from what I’d like them to be and data might help me make choices I liked better.)

I’m also hoping it might be a useful sort of view for people wondering what a random Pagan’s daily life looks like, in a manageable chunk.

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An odd anniversary

Three years ago, effectively (technically November 30th, but it was the Monday after Thanksgiving), I woke up feeling just as lousy after 5 days off as before I started.

The next six months were hell. Two months to get a diagnosis. Two more before it even started to kick in. Two more before I could see the faint glimmerings of myself behind the cloud of cottonwool and exhaustion. My job did not renew my contract.

It turns out that was an excellent thing. It took a year of being unemployed to begin to recover. I job hunted throughout, but these days, I am so very grateful no one hired me before my current job. I had a year of being able to sleep in until I woke, of taking a 3 hour nap more afternoons than not – but still being able to get things done, at my own pace.

(During that year, I turned out 4-5 detailed and individualised cover letters and other applications a week. Oh, and planned a Pagan convention, created my Seeking site, did a bunch of teach-myself-new-tech projects, and a fair bit else. But there was a lot of napping, and resting involved.)

And then I moved to Maine, and it’s taken me a year and some to feel like I have an idea where my limits are. I’m now at a point where I can work a full day, and do good things at work, and come home and have the brain and focus to write. Or clean for 30 minutes without feeling completely wiped out at the end.

It’s taken a long time to recover. It’s made me so very aware of the friends I can count on, and the ones I can’t. Of trusting my intuition looking for solutions in unlikely places. (I remain convinced that my Feldenkrais lessons saved my sense of self in ways I can’t begin to describe.)

There are still challenges: my religious practices (the formal stuff, not the little stuff that’s warp and weft of my life) has not yet recovered. The thought of organising public ritual exhausts me still. (Though I’m dancing around what it would take to do a Pagan coffee-and-talk gathering once a month.) The same thing is true with my social life: I like my co-workers (and am closer friends with one), but a lot of my social interaction is with friends in more distant places. I want to fix some of that this year.

And it’s taken a long time for other things, too. To not flinch and bury myself when I know I’m behind on work. (Because I now have a boss who is very reasonable and reassuring. And where I can get feedback for the asking, rather than meetings once a month that are prone to rescheduling and interruptions and other stresses.)

But this weekend, I was rereading Lord Peter, the collection of short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers.

There’s one in there, where – look, I’m spoiling a story that’s been in print since the 30s, okay? – that I’d not read since before my diagnosis. Of a woman, hypothyroid like me, and what happens when she doesn’t get the tiny bit of hormone she needs each day. And what it’s like when she does. The dawning of a life, again, that seemed loss. And the dawning of having the energy to engage with the world again.

I woke up today feeling not-great (I have the horrible cold that’s going around, I’ve had it since last Monday, and I missed a Thanksgiving gathering I’d really been looking forward to. My week was mostly sitting on the couch knitting and attempting to nap.) But I also know that I’m getting better, and it’s temporary.

Three years ago, I was not so sure.  And worse, not sure how to fix it, and who might be a help.

Thanks, again, to those who were. (You know who you were.)

Coping with the unexpected

Today, at the tail end of my work day, I had one of those moments that gets the adrenalin going, but where I had to stay calm. (I’d say it ended well, but while the library side of it was about as well-handled  as one can expect that kind of thing to be, I’m afraid that at least two people are worse off than they were this morning. Which is not so good.)

But a conversation with a friend by IM afterwards, where she asked me about how the Pagan-related skills helped, made me realise I had something useful to share about that. (This is what a friend of mine refers to as being a professionally-trained stunt priestess, which always makes me grin.)

So, three general tips, and then the list of things I keep on hand at home to help with this kind of thing.

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Floating, not falling

Still working around to getting enough brain to do a substantial post (or more than that, really) but I’m slowly getting there. (And I have real plans to do one of the meaty posts this weekend.)

The thing I want to talk about right now, though is that I’ve been mulling over my inertia over getting a new solid personal practice going here, and why that is. Some of it has been situational (a stomach bug, wrenching my foot, so that anything that involved movement took longer), and then the cat doing the same thing to herself (different mechanism), so I’ve been worried about her. (She’s doing a lot better.)

But part of it – the part I keep coming back to – is the title of this post.

I keep feeling like I’m floating – and that that floating is okay. I don’t know if I’m the only person who did (okay, still does) this – but given a chance at a sufficiently empty pool, one of my favorite things to do (beyond just floating) is to spin myself. Part of it is making a 360 circle in terms of where the top of my head is pointing in the pool, but the other is simultaneously rotating on my own axis: right shoulder and hip up, over, so I’m face down in the water, then bringing the left shoulder and hip back and up, so I’m facing up again. Repeat until gloriously dizzy, and deeply relaxed. Do not try in anything like a crowded pool.)

It’s that feeling. That there’s a lot going on, but at the same time, everything is settling into place, and what I really need to do is stay out of my own way, and stop overthinking it.

So, y’know, I mostly am. I’m starting to be less overwhelmingly tired after work, up for doing slightly more than keeping up with friends online, some simple knitting, and a lot of computer game playing. One of my classic markers of how well I’m recovered is way down (how long it takes me to get through my morning/evening online space checks: on good days, it’s 30-45 minutes, depending on how much I comment. On slow brain days, it’s 3 times that or worse.)

More soon. But floating. Not falling.