Saturday, January 4, 2014

At the End of the Day

""At the end of the day, did I laugh and dance enough
Did I tell my friends, how much they really mean to me
At the end of the day, did I really push myself
Or was I too afraid to give my heart away, at the end of the day

I wanna learn, I wanna love
Take some big chance and just trust in my instincts
And my intuition, if I win or if I lose
Any road that I choose, I will drive all the way

I wanna know, tonight as I fall fast asleep
I am one day closer to who I wanna be"

Kellie Coffey, At the End of  the Day

The other night, I was reading some old blogs of mine. I was a little jealous, I have to say. I was jealous of my exuberance, my ability to find joy in even the smallest things and write so well about them. I am not saying I have lost that entirely, but it seems to have been impacted a little, shall we say.

But today, I started to re-realize that I still have it within me, it's just hard to access at times. But after a week or so of being mostly indoors or the local area because of the snow, cold weather and holiday, I went to Portland again today. I was quite tired and grumpy when I got there about 1230. I was dropped off at Whole Foods. I didn't feel like shopping. It was only 8 degrees out, but that was better than -4. I decided I'd walk up to the gelato place. Which is quite a walk from Whole Foods. I do not usually walk from WF, I walk to it. Pearl St is easy to walk down but murder to walk up! Especially with the snow - it's quite steep. But I did it anyway. I wanted that frozen code - 20% off, because you get one percent off for every degree below zero. And I wanted some gelato wake me up.

It took 25 minutes, but I did it. One of my favorite people was working there, Kristina. We chatted, and I smiled, and I was happy enough. Then I tasted that dark chocolate noir sorbetto after a week of not having it... Oh, heaven in your mouth. The burst of chocolate, thick fudgy intense dark chocolate! It's like nothing else. And the strawberry balsamic was like heaven today. The strawberry pieces were pureed more coursely than usual, so you got little bits of strawberry pieces and every bite was a sweet delicacy. Then the mango? Ohhh, the smooth, perfect combination between tart and sweet, melt in your mouth mango. They were all so beautiful. I finished all of the strawberry and most of the other two. I got 20% off, as the temperature was 12 upon arriving, which was about a dollar. I was filled with joy for the place, the people. I smiled broadly at each arriving person. Kristina told me I was only the second person to come that day, as it had been cold and they had opened only two hours earlier. I considered it an honor. I told each new person who arrived that they could get 14% off! (Now it was 18 degrees). I stayed there for an hour and then walked back, this time full of energy.

When I got back to Whole Foods, I was in such a good mood. Gelato usually does that. Everything just seemed wonderful. Whole Foods makes me happy. I didn't have the anxiety about shopping I usually do. I laughed and sang and hummed and danced as I got my apples, bananas, fish and hummus. I laughed and danced through most of the store, until I got really tired. And I got some good food.

It was Nate's birthday, so Rob, Nate, Judy and I had a celebration with him. I gave him the presents I had gotten him at the bookstore last night - the calendars, Big Bang Theory bobblehead and knick knacks. Rob got him a tea set. We played Crappy Birthday for two hours, which was absolutely hilarious. And we connected. I showed him a paragraph in a book I found last night that I thought sounded like me, and he agreed. I found this Icelandic yogurt that while it tastes terrible seemed to fill me up more than most things, which was good. And I smiled.

I pushed myself past my anxiety. Both last night at the bookstore, the day before at Clayton's, and today at the beginnng of the day. I asked myself, what is really important here? It's not how I feel .How I feel is just a means to an end, a seemingly important but really insignificant factor in trying to get to a goal. And what is my goal? HUMAN CONNECTION AND INTERACTION. That is my goal. That is what I need to measure my days by. Not how I feel, if I can help it. I can't completely stop that from being important to me but I can try as much as I can to practice not assigning it as much importance. I can try as much as I can to keep myself in motion towards some kind of goal. That will make me sleep better, that will give me a feeling of being content, that will chase away the depression, anxiety and despair far more than trying to protect myself to the "nth" degree and worrying to death about every little symptom. I don't know if I can keep it up , but I did it today. And what was the result? I laughed and I sang. I danced. I let my friends know how much they really meant to me.

And tonight as I fall fast asleep, I will know, as Kellie Coffey sings, that I am one more step, however small, closer to being who I want to be.

Man, I want to keep doing this . It feels good to try to get closer to who you want to be. Eye on the goal. The problem was I didn't have a goal, I couldn't come up with a goal that seemed feasible. But I'm starting to see. It won't be easy. But if every day I can do one thing that makes me a little uncomfortable if it makes me closer to my goal, perhaps my thoughts will not be on how scared I am of my life but on how rewarding it felt to try and probably succeed at something new. Yes, there will be anxiety about symptoms, but it likely won't be as bad as the anxiety and despair over doing nothing! That is what I have to learn. I have my work cut out for me.

I am continuing to try a course of an ADD med , although I am still not at a high dosage and should try that soon, as I think it helps me focus and keeps the anxiety thoughts that distract me more in the background.

The last few times we've played games, I have been unable to focus or attend, just going through the motions, fighting back tears, really. But today I was engaged and attentive, I was laughing, I was connected, I was smiling, I was really present. Man, did it feel good! And I was so happy to give Nate a truly good day when so many of them with me end up being rather challenging. I also thank the God I don't believe in for Whole Foods... I almost always feel good in there. And I love the people who work there!

Another quote that has helped me is this quote I saw on a calendar last night

"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

I think that says it all and helps me conceptualize it in a way I hadn't before.

Remember what really matters. A goal, and connection to others. The intense negative emotions that come in between? The physical sensations that are so unpleasant? The anxiety about functioning and the future? They're just what fills in between the stars. The stars are there, if you look. I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. There are gaps in between good and in between calm. But I must remember, they are only gaps. They are not the end.

Calmness, patience, stillness and determination will win the day.

And a really good dish of strawberry balsamic gelato.

I also ran into Bobby who manages the gelato place at whole foods and had a nice chat with him, and my former roommate in South Portland who I hadn't seen since I left. He has such a kind face. He has kind eyes. What happened at the end was not indicative of the kind of person he was.

Now I have to go do some more of taking charge of my life before I can relax before bed.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

January 2, 2014
New Year's Blizzard / -2 degrees
Yarmouth, Maine

Thoughts upon walking in the storm, with only light winds, at around 5pm. 
Not that I want to repeat this on a regular basis but the novelty of it was nice once. 

The world looks like a snow globe. Fuzzy flakes all around you, all different shapes, raining down like confetti on New Year's. Perfect white blobs in a perfectly white and perfectly quiet world. The air is sharp and invigorating. It is fresh and feels good to breathe, provided one is dressed for it. When you walk in it, you see a changed world. A white world. Few cars are on the street, and when you walk down it, walking fearlessly over the snow in your boots, you get the sense that the rules are somehow changed, that the world is a softer, kinder place. Eventually, your glasses fog and when you change direction, the wind blows the snow in your face. 

You can't see hardly anything, except vague shapes and a vague outline of snow and white. You have a vague sense of where the street ends and the sidewalk begins. You have a vague sense of how far right you have to be to stay out of the street and away from cars. But aside from that, you have to trust your body and your sense of place and time. You have to trust your feet to keep walking, your legs to point you in the right direction. Step by step, step by step, you propel yourself forward, trusting yourself to get in the right direction, to arrive at your destination even if your eyes can't necessarily tell where that is and how far away. Step by step. 

You trust your body to get you where you're going. When you get to your house, you almost miss it. It was an interesting walk, the light snow covering the intersecting and empty street making a perfect plateau for some light dancing. Almost as if you were ice skating. Yes, you think to yourself with a kind of muted glee, I *can* dance in the snow in a blizzard in -2 degrees. Yes, I can. You do it a few times with almost a sense of guilty pleasure before you decide you had better save some of your energy for the walk back. You wonder what the few passing cars, traveling rightfully so at a snail's pace, are thinking. You get out of their way and then return to the beautiful plateau of white and purity, illuminated so perfectly but so briefly by the overhead streetlight. And then you turn on your way, time to head home.