Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Improv is the Answer

Thoughts on the improv class/fundraiser I was lucky enough to go to at  the CTV building downtown. Improv is fun =)

It seems to me that improv is a space in which there are no rules, so it allows those of us with enormous social anxiety to actually feel free to be ourselves, to feel safe to be ourselves, and to feel safe enough to actually feel emotional connection to others. I have known this since I first took improv in summer camp as a kid, but never had the opportunity to practice it. In my life, the only opportunity for social interaction and connection with others has been around the idea of disability - my talks on or discussions on autism. I had virtually no social interaction before discovering that label and gaining some confidence from there. Other than that I have no outlet. Writing and speaking about the pain in my life has not been particularly productive or useful. I lamented to someone on the phone the other day that if I could just find a way to have superficial but meaningful, easy, silly, joyful conversations with others, without using so much damn energy, that I'd be happy. I asked her, "What would you call that state?" She said "I'd call it having fun." 

Turns out I was right, and improv is the answer, if I can only figure out how to find a suitable environment. I had a horrible day before, but I have not been that happy for that long in years. I am so thankful for the opportunity to show myself that happiness and connection does exist in me, but it takes the right environment to bring it out. It takes patience and persistence to keep seeking it too I guess.

I was so thankful for the woman who took me in and extended a warm, positive energy to me, talked with me and made me feel included. I was so happy that people greeted me so warmly when  I walked in. To have people greet you by name so happily! I could get lost in the positive energy of others, and do, the few times I have the opportunity. 

To be in a room with people who have such open, warm energy, is like heaven on earth. To be in a space where there are no social rules, and to get to express all the tremendous energy that is inside me in a fun, silly, connected way is heaven. To see the smile on other people's face, to laugh with them, to engage in any form of interaction where energy is being exchanged, without the terrifying thoughts in my head of OMG I'M DOING THIS WRONG  is to be actually able to take in positive energy from others.

I have pain in my wrist so I can't type longer, but I am wanting to hold on to this feeling. To remember it exists. Please help me remember it exists. Please help me try to get it again. It is so much healthier than depression.

Monday, August 18, 2014

thoughts on depression

I do not feel like this every day but I do sometimes, at least a couple times per week and to a lesser degree more often, I got some good feedback on it on FB so am posting here for the next time I  feel this way and need to express it This is from last Thursday

getting back to apt was pure torture emotionally. brain gets too tired to control negative thoughts. the whole world falls apart in my brain. i walk so slowly each step weighted down with pure dread. i pace outside the building delaying going in, delaying doing anything. my brain simply does not want to be alive, and it puts off everything, trying to find a corner to hide in, but there is none. bursting to the seam with depressive thinking, crying, trying to find a meaning for suffering when there is none. the challenge of getting to east end apparently incited an adrenaline response that kept the negative thoughts away. walking to the west end is too damn EASY physically, yet time consuming, so my thoughts feel free to run loose and wreak havoc on my body and mind while i walk what sometimes feels like a death march, feelings of dread pouring out of my body, the source events and experiences that were years ago but whose effects and images continue to live and be felt in my body at every waking moment unless distracted. Crying while walking up Congress has happened more than once. I hate the feeling of yelling at myself to move, to walk, when the feelings of dread are so heavy that it feels like my body is made out of stone and I cannot move, I am paralyzed, trapped in place, trapped in my head, unable to reach out.... until someone happens by and engages me in a conversation, and I am myself again, connected , focused, until they leave, and I fall apart again. Seriously, can I exchange this brain for a new one? I think I got a faulty one. And I can't find the fix for it. The repair shop is closed and moved to China... there, somewhere, but not accessible.

Eleven hours out would probably be a lot for anybody... but it was what happened that wrecked me so much.... What I managed to be distracted by for some of today but then all the time I managed to be distracted by it came back to bite me in the ass like a bad rebound effect from an ADD medication... all the time I felt being okay came back to bite me in the ass and the fall was that much worse. How I can be so hard on myself for the way I am socially when I had as much positive social reinforcement as I did today is unexplainable, un-understandable, the result of a brain so stuck in past trauma that is totally not capable of moving on. The distress I felt over the reaction to certain chemical elements of the thing I tried earlier, the panic, it just wasn't fun. It just wasn't fun. I don't feel the need I guess to say more. Or have the words at the moment. Or want to go there emotionally. It was just fighting a war all day and I am tired of waging war against my body. I am tired of waging war against my body. I am tired of being stuck in a body that malfunctions so badly. I am tired of feeling like I am shut out from other people's lives. I try to tell myself, you can talk to people just fine, you just have a different way of doing it. I give myself example after example. Even tonight I ... got into conversations with two guys, both older men, since that seems to be the only type I can converse with, even after the open mic ended... and I got plenty of good feedback in the open mic... but still watching people converse with each other sends in me an endless loop of you're not doing it right, an endless loop of you're missing out. which, according to my new aspie friend from group, is true. I am missing out on 80% of communication due to not being able to read nonverbal communication. When I say I feel shut out, emotionally isolated, there is a very scientific, biological reason for this. It is because I literally AM shut out from their communication, or most of it. I try to compensate with words. I am the master of words. But words feel so empty. People my age don't communicate like I do. I can't make myself be okay with that. I can converse fine with older people. But that is problematic. I can't tell if people are just merely tolerating me and talking to me out of pity, or if they actually want to. I am thankful to talk to them about autism or analyze myself with a receptive audience but I want something more. What if the only thing I can have conversations with people about turns out to be autism and psychology related things? Most people get burned out on deep conversations. I can't think of anything light and airy to talk about. Music is the only other interest I have, but of course very specific music. I want to be casual and find a way to be with people that does not include analyzing my emotions, because most people don't want to do that. But yeah. I haven't found it yet.

I want to find a way to be at peace with my body and not scared to death of it. The dread I experience is the dread of feeling. The dread of physically feeling the way my body feels. It can't take it anymore, sometimes. It just feels too much. The tension in my body, the pressure in my head, the pressure of being alive. The physical, sensory, emotional pain that I feel in my body. It is too much sometimes. My body rebels against existing, but there is nowhere to go ,no way to escape an enemy that is literally your own body. And when I can't connect to music, when even music feels overwhelming, the one and only outlet I have.... the terror is too great. I need an outlet. The terror of feeling too disconnected to even connect to music. I can't go back there again. The fear of not feeling, almost. Or of feeling, but of only feeling the disconnect. Of only feeling the isolation. What was the 90s song.... "Yeah, I bleed just to know I'm alive..." Iris? I haven't heard that in ages. It's not knowing that I'm alive that I have trouble with ... It's knowing that I exist in other people's minds, knowing that there is anything in this world other than my mind, my awareness of myself, my awarneness of my pain. I have to fight so hard to find a feeling of being aware of other people or something other than me. That is a level of isolation that I just can't stand sometimes.

How do you know you exist in other people's minds? Is that some kind of theory of mind or object permenance developmental stage that most people achieve by age 6? Why am I stuck there? If other people with autism have trouble reading social cues, and are as emotionally shut out as I am, why are they not as desperate as I am? Are they, and I just don't know it? How will I live a life continuing to be shut out from others' emotions? It is just too painful to bear sometimes. It may not be that they are not emotional enough, I am finding, although often it is. It is that I cannot read their energy or their feelings, their cues, and connect to it. And it is my brain keeping me in a perpetual state of danger and isolation due to the feelings of both physical bad-ness and past emotional trauma.

I am tired of scanning the environment for threats and feeling outside, behind a glass, even when I am actually participating.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seeing Your Strengths

I need to find a way to understand and use my strengths. I need to focus less on what I can't do.

This I just realized after having spent the last 90 minutes on a phone call with an online friend who was trying to get me to see my strengths. I have very little idea of how other people live, because I've never known anything other than my brain. She compliments me on my ability to figure out and assess my problems so well, and my ability to figure out what I need. The problem I have is in taking action to get what I need due to anxiety about it not being possible to get. Anxiety about whether my needs will be met. I am surprised at her compliments and have trouble imagining that most people aren't capable of the level of self-analysis that is for me there all the time without any effort.
 I am focused on my weaknesses to the exclusion of all else, so I am not able to use my strengths for anything. To figure out how to use my strengths, I would first need to figure out what they are, and this would require something I was always taught was at the height of selfishness - asking people to give me feedback, sometimes more than once, about the parts of me that are positive, and why, and to tell me enough times until I understand these things just as intimately as I understand my own faults (the knowledge of the latter which has been beat into me so many times it's a running tape in my head whenever I try to do the simplest of things).          

She says that it would be a shame to waste such a genuine, honest caring spirit and try to bring it down to the level of everyone else just because that is what the majority is.

I try to ask her how I help other people because this is not something I have much experience with. She says I inspire her to think about the way she's living her life and what she could do better or differently for more emotional richness, in a way she never has before. So is that what it is? I inspire people to think?
She also tells me that my genuineness inspires happy emotions in others, because they can sense and feel my happiness, my other emotions and it makes them feel, which they like. Some, anyway. A certain subset. I am so used to feeling like a burden on other people that it is like an exercise in brain gymnastics to even perceive that this could be true, but a worthy one.

Many people when I was in college would be drawn to me to have intense conversations about the way they felt about something - and would tell me "Gee, I never talk about this with anyone," and they just met me - but it would never turn into a friendship, and for that I blamed myself. Is it possible that they just preferred superficiality? Is it possible that I have a gift to help others be themselves and feel comfortable expressing themselves? One that might not lend itself well to the kind of superficial friendship that the world seems so enamored of, but that could be useful for those who really need it and are open to it?

I am different, but the only possible labels society gives me to think about my differences are in terms of disability. Autism, depression, anxiety, whatever. But what if we labeled what people did right as much as we label what they did wrong? Caring, genuine, perceptive, insightful, these are all valid things... that we have no real term for. I don't really know what you *mean* when you call me this, because I have not run into an awful lot of people like this. I have been given no reason to think these traits are anything special or particularly useful. But what if I did?

What if they gave me a label of what I did right? If they gave me a label of what I did right, I could rise up to meet that and all the negatives wouldn't matter so much.

I have as much trouble being superficial as other people do being genuine, but she says not to waste your gift of being genuine by being superficial. The world has enough superficial people already. It doesn't need one more. It needs someone genuine, even if it doesn't know that yet.

What I need more than anything is people who will remind me of my own strengths.

Disability is a seductive identity, especially for someone who has never belonged to any other group. Labels of disability are helpful to a point, and the point is when it blinds you to all knowledge that you could ever be something more. Balance is hard to achieve.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Aspie group today

Ramblings from FB about the Aspie group I went to today and my evening

I probably have very little typing ability left before my hand starts bothering me again, so I should get this out while I still can.

I managed to sit and do nothing for a while, which is very unlike me. Let my thoughts run thru my head without judging or reacting to them. YAY! And read 2 chapter of a good book. I would have done more, but my back was getting sore and I could not find a good position to be in. Oh well, Patience I suppose, only way to go if you can get it.

I had a very full day!

I was with Rob and others from noon to 9pm. I went to the Aspie group for only the second time in seven years. I did markedly better this time than last, but the different structure probably helped a lot too. An engaging and intelligent guy I had never met did a presentation on Aspie social cues and problems with that subject. I found it hard to listen and sit still at first, or keep my body calm enough to listen, but then I wandered to the other side of the room, sat there and found that now I could actually understand the words. I then did a reading of one of my favorite essays on being Aspie that is published in the book I wrote. All those weeks of open mic night paid off, because I was perfectly able to read the essay without any preparation or much anxiety, used to delivering essays to an audience whose reaction I was never sure of and Thank God usually couldn't SEE due to the lighting on stage... Helps with stage presence. Ha. I felt strangely natural talking in front of a group,  actually, far more natural than usual, far more confident than usual. I love giving presentations because I can be calm enough to consider things like tone of voice and how the words are coming across. Normal interactions you have to REACT SO FAST and so much anxiety cannot pay attn to tone of voice. Reading an essay though? No anxiety because no worry about social rules. You have the floor. No anxiously trying to figure out when to respond, what they're thinking, what to say, OMG WHAT ARE THEY THINKING, when am I supposed to talk, what did they mean by that? You are just reading, and it is such an easy form of social communication for me, such a natural, delightful, almost luxurious thing for me to do. I can actually focus on trying to make my tone of voice fit what I am reading. Or it has been lately at least. I pray for more opportunities to do so.

There were a couple more outgoing members of the group present and I was thankful for this, as the group does usually tend towards the introverted side. There were actually four women when I walked in and I thought I was seeing things. There is usually just one or two. Half the people when I walked in were women. Knock me over with a feather, as they say.

While the place was not easy physically in terms of sensory reactions, it was tolerable as long as I was engaged, which fortunately I was and remained so for the 3 hours I was there. So that was a win.

I was thankful for time to decompress after. Got groceries. Walked with Rob on the Western Prom. And managed to sit and do nothing when I got home instead of intensely trying to cover up and offload my emotions. Sanity, if that is you knocking on the door, please make yourself at home and stay a while. =)

But the best part of the day actually came after Rob and I came back from our walk on the western prom. Lingering by the door and talking, we saw an older woman walking by. She said "I don't know how I'm going to make it home, they pumped me up with drugs," to no one in particular. I noticed the wristband on her wrist and was mindful of being 2 blocks from the hospital. Always eager to engage someone, I asked her "Did you just come from the hospital?" Indeed, she had come by ambulance earlier, and had no ride home. She felt like she couldn't walk any further. Instantly sympathetic, and feeling perfectly safe engaging with her, I asked her if she had money for a cab. She didn't.  I asked her where she lived and it was less than a mile away.

Always on the lookout for opportunities to make the world a better place for someone other than me, I told her I'd be glad to give her $5 for a cab, because I knew it wouldn't cost more than that for a mile. She was so grateful. She was all talking about how there are good people in the world and how thankful she was, and I just ... was taking in her energy and so happy for it, because honestly, it is the gritty, real, down to earth, non-pretentious non-perfect people that make me feel instantly comfortable, and I almost never find them. I was so happy to be able to help someone. My money and phone was upstairs, but R and I split the $5 to pay her and R used his phone to call a cab for her, which came within 5 minutes. She was a lovely, enthusiastic, vibrant personality experiencing a hard time, and I just felt... I felt like life was worth living having helped this other person, like all of my anxieties and fears for the night ahead melted away in the face of this one single undeniable fact - SOMEONE ELSE WAS GENUINELY GLAD I EXISTED, that she had met me , and that I, of all people, who am so sick and tired of depending on other people to help me, was finally able to make the load easier for someone else tonight.

Yea. I gotta find me some volunteer opps that work w/ my sensitivities cus I think helping others is only way I'll ever find a meaning in life. I WANT a meaning in life. If I can find a way to get over my body's limitations.... I will certainly do so.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Details Versus Big Picture, and Transitions

On Details Versus Big Picture

I just had the most lovely couple hours, adjusting to my new apartment, and doing nothing but doing nothing in a remarkably pleasant way. I should add I almost never do nothing. Ever. Doing nothing is usually very scary, but was surprisingly pleasant today. Usually I am so bombarded by sensory and emotional stimuli from the world that I have to find a way to DO stuff, other stuff, other more desirable stuff but stuff nonetheless, just so I can drown out the negative stimuli. It gets to be a war in my body, negative stimuli comes in, I try to balance it with an equal amount of output, a war of input and output ensues. I did not quite realize that one of the reasons I think I am such an intense person is that because I am so sensitive to sensory, emotional and physical stimuli, and because I take in SO MUCH, the only way I can regulate myself (which I do quite unconsciously) is to create an equal stream of output. The reason I talk, write, emote and express so much, probably even the reason my body moves and fidgets so much, is to create a stream of output equal to the input so as to be balanced and regulated.

So, all that to say that doing nothing is a luxury I have hardly ever experienced. I am never relaxed enough to do nothing. The thing is, if the environment around you is not completely calm and okay, you are agitated no matter what is happening, and when negative stimuli is coming in, you have to be DOING SOMETHING to overcome that feeling. So doing nothing to overcome it and sitting still or not being active feels like torture most of the time.

But the last three days since I have moved into this apartment, I have found myself doing nothing for the longest stretches of time and not having it be unpleasant. It's an extremely weird, foreign, strange feeling that I can't quite figure out what to think about. Pleasantries like "I'm glad you're enjoying your apartment," or "I'm glad it is going so well" don't seem to describe it in the least, and frustrate me. Am I enjoying it? What is this feeling? How can I describe this feeling when I am hardly aware of one? How can I exist if I am not feeling anything? That is what I have been thinking lately, and it is so weird. I am used to extremes of emotion. How do I even know how to describe what I am guessing is a feeling of peace or calm? Will it last? Can I  trust it? Will it happen again? These thoughts I keep thinking, among others.

I wrote the following about the last few hours tonight.

I can hardly remember what ive been doing. I got distracted so pleasantly by the Sara Evans CD that was playing on my CD player, which I just found today.

I sat on the bed caught in the rapture of  the music, the beauty of her voice,  the feeling of love that came over me. I listened to every CD I found earlier twice... lost in the wonder of the sound of their voice. Eventually, I decided to make dinner... ground beef... didnt come out great but it didnt matter because the phil vassar cd was completely entrancing me in a kind of peaceful positive emotion I have rarely experienced. I am so used to  emotions being big... extreme... I can barely recognize peace or happiness if it's  not big huge joy. Nate says when I get happy I get so happy he couldn't even imagine. To be released from the pressure of always having to be THAT happy, though, to be free to feel happiness on a more normal scale... it feels weird but good! I sat on the bed, having my usual resistance to eating but knowing I should, feeding myself one piece of beef at a time,and for once focusing more on the buttery smooth amazing sound of Phil Vassar's voice than the feeling of the food in my mouth and stomach. I had the idea that I'd clear off the side table and put some of my stuff I unpacked on it, and acually got excited about it, but after I went to put my dish away I felt tired and went to sit on the bed and listen to the music some more. Then, spontaneously, I grabbed the book that was on the bed, lied down and started to read.

Which might not sound like anything special except for I never do anything spontaneous, I haven't been relaxed enough and calm enough to focus on reading a book in two months and I never do anything without a careful calculation of all the possible risks and benefits involved, a careful planning out of every aspect of it, and without first reassuring myself of all the things I will do after it and reassuring myself that whatever I did before it went okay and Oh before you do that can you please solve this problem, and that problem , and find a solution world peace while you're at it? ..... there is so much damn THINKING involved in switching between  activities, and my life in general, no wonder I have trouble with transitions. That's a big thing in autism - trouble with transitions. I couldn't tell you why, but I could definitely tell you I had that particular trait.

For once having done several activities today with almost no transition, and no thinking needed, I can start to understand why most transitions are so fraught. When the world feels so dangerous with sensory hypersensitivity and every other sort of sensitivity that exists, you are preparing yourself for war every time there is a transition, even if you're not consciously aware of it. You don't know what is coming next and you have to get your battle on. Even if it's something you've done a million times, it's not likely to be something without danger, because let's face it, almost everything we do out in the world has a barrage of sensory information and feels like overload even if it's something we like - and it's usually not. Our minds are very good at focusing on the small details and terrible at the big picture. So, focusing from one detailed activity to another means a lot of change in focus, and a lot of anxiety. When you FINALLY get your mind focused on doing something, having to stop and go through all that again to do another activity can feel like murder, so no wonder we like to hyper focus on one activity for a long period of time.

There was this analogy in this book I spontaneously started reading tonight that I really liked. It said, "Most people live their lives knowing that all the frames of action, all the details of their life, fit into a big movie frame. We can put the frames together and watch the movie. People with autism can only see the individual movie frames and not the movie. They can't run the projector. They see only fragemented information, bits and pieces, a frame here and there and can't put it together into a movie frame." Something like that. Oh, but that makes so much sense! When all you can see, feel experience or know is what is happening in the moment ,it is going to feel really freaking overwhelming because there is no sense of context, there is no sense of anything else existing. There is no sense of WHY anything is happening. There is no sense of why you should put up with XYZ hassle, pain, difficult thing - most people know that when you have pain and discomfort, they are just steps you have to go through in order to reach your goal. But people on the spectrum have trouble understanding what that big picture is. What are we trying to reach? What will happen if...? There doesn't seem to be a world that exists outside of the present moment. Context is almost always missing.

When I was in college, one of the first coping mechanisms I somehow intuively learned to do to cope with the overwhelming amount of anxiety that would hit me seemingly out of nowhere and paralyze me was to list for myself everything I had done that day so far, and everything I was planning on doing later.

I had no idea why this helped, I couldn't explain it to anyone, nor would I have ever had the chance to. It just occurred to me to do, I started doing it, and the anxiety would met away.   I would have moments, all the time, where I would just stop and feel like I couldn't move and often I would fall to the floor crying. Somehow, I learned and taught myself... that all I had to do was say "Okay, I got up at 10, and I had breakfast, and had a conversation with XXXX, and went to this class, and I did this and that, and now I'm doing this, and after this I will go to the computer lab and work on my paper for history, then I will eat, then I will go to the computer lab and do emails and then I will go to bed..."

 It may seem obsessive, but even if there was only one or two things on that list before or after, it centered me, it gave me a sense of place and time and a world outside of the emotion, thought or feeling I had at the moment. I never questioned why it worked, although I did in the years that would follow when I become more self-aware. I just knew it was something I had to do that took the anxiety away almost instantly. I was giving myself a sense of context.. a sense of place.. a mental structure that for other people just seems to be there automatically. Other people seem to have this built in understanding of so much. A built in understanding, for example, of how their actions, thoughts, feelings will impact others. A built in understanding of... things I can't quite grasp yet but was always able to articulate they were missing. It's just that no one ever believed me. How can I tell you what's missing when I don't know what it is? I know enough to know it's missing and you have it, but when people brush off my concerns with "Oh, everyone experiences that," I feel like they can't possibly understand - because they take it for granted that they have these things, they cannot understand what life would be like to live without them.

The other thing I'd do when I would get anxious and agitated was to grab a piece of paper and write down all the things that were making me anxious, then make myself slow down, think about each one slowly, process my thoughts about each one slowly, and then go on to the next one. It wasn't even so much about finding a solution to the anxious thought or problem, although I tried to make that part of it. It was that all these intense emotional thoughts were hitting me so fast and so hard and so all at once that I couldn't process them or function. So once I learned to write them down and think about them more slowly, I could process them and go on. I'd just do it with pieces of scrap paper sitting at the back of the computer lab or wherever was a quiet, empty space in college. I'd be upset, ask people for paper, write it down, go through all the thoughts slowly in my mind and then be okay again.
Probably the forerunner of all the writing about my thoughts I do on Facebook, my diary and emails now - because without writing about them, I can't slow my brain down enough to actually process the thoughts without becoming extremely overwhelmed by them. It's very interesting to consider where these coping mechanisms came from, how they developed, why they developed, and to try to give myself the enormous credit I probably deserve for somehow coming up with them. Instead of, of course, blaming and chastizing myself for my way of thinking, doing, coping and being as different from others. Of course it's different from others. My brain is autistic. It's not going to work the same way as others' no matter how much I want it to. I will learn that eventually.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Putting my FB post on here so I don't lose it =) 

Just had a stunningly amazing phone conversation with Samantha for 3.5 hours.... which may be my record. I had forgotten she liked country, and an hour into our conversation mentioned a song on the radio without thinking, only to get intelligent commentary on it and a mention of listening to Rascal Flatts on her CD player. I'm like, what? OHH! It's like when everything comes into focus... when you find someone who speaks the same language as you.

Well, not only does she like country but country radio and not only country radio but every aspect of it that I do.  She knew 92.5 was the Hartford country station, and she lives in Ohio. She knew Bob Kingsley used to do American Country Countdown and even sang the jingle to me. She knew Chapel Hill and Ballston Spa and Springfield MA and all these places I had connections to. She used country radio as security blanket in much the same way as I do, and it is so refreshing and awe-inspiring to find someone who shares quirks I never in a million years thought someone else would. She uses Radio-Locator to look up country stations before trips, like I do. She likes older country better than newer country, but used to love new music programs on the radio just like I did. When I mentioned the program on WPOC that played one new song at 430 every afternoon, she without prompting from me talked about the ones she used to listen to that play two songs and have you vote for the best - which was where I was going next, and used to be on WAYZ and WGTY in college, as well as WOKQ at home for a time. She understood the emotion behind all of my radio things that I love. So cool to have someone listen to you and go "Oh my God" or "Yes, yes!" in affirmation and understanding instead of merely tolerating you. She understood when I said I almost didn't visit the greater NYC area in college for a conference when there was no country station. She used call letters as fluently as I do, remembering them from years ago as I do. When someone can use call letters as an actual word instead of stumbling over the letters or not knowing them at all, then they're probably radio people. She knew the songs I mentioned. Sooo cool. I wish I could hold onto to that positive emotion forever. I had started to be not in a good way before talking to her, and then I was so happy to have a shared passion. Emotion is such a funny, weird, strong thing. It can and does change the entire way you experience the world, good or bad. No wonder people go to such extremes to get good and avoid bad. It is so hard to hold onto good emotion, but I try to.

Then there were good conversations about many other topics, but that was the one that, as the Doors would say, lit my fire. We talked a little about in Buddhism the difference between having a focus on doing instead of being. I feel like for some of the time in the last 24 hrs I've been able to have more of a focus on being instead of doing, which I think would be very useful. But usually I am not able to do that, and become obsessed and anxious about doing, and what I can do and what I can't. But the times I can just sit and let my thoughts run thru me and not get too attached to any of them, and enjoy simple sensory things without needing to plan for the next disaster all the time... Life would be so much easier if I could make that more into a habit. To live in the moment without always planning for a dire future. It would be nice, so we'll see if I can make it happen more.