Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in. ~ Sebastian Vettel
An artist’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to see. ~ Paul Gauguin
A dog’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to better feel the breeze and smell the odors. ~ Emma Jean-Jean
A woman’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to momentarily pretend all the horribleness in the world isn’t happening. ~ Tracy
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. ~ E. B. White
Two hours ago, my innards were a mass of writhing anxiety and I (briefly) considered cancelling out on a zoom call with some local activists. I’d signed up to learn about the coalition they’re putting together to help the most vulnerable in our community, but felt so overwhelmed I thought it might be best to bail rather than run the risk of falling apart onscreen in front of strangers.
Fortunately, I joined the call and am now feeling much better. Possibly as stellar as this Steller’s Jay. (sorry, not sorry!)
Seriously, the folks I met with are doing good work and I’m excited to join their efforts. The current global reality is layered with multiple ongoing traumas and much of it is outside my control. But this local effort stands a very good chance of actually making a difference in people’s lives.
I’m grateful that today I, once again, learned it’s much healthier for me to choose taking action over wallowing in debilitating anxiety.
It’s fitting that smoke obscured this photo of a coal plant I took as we drove past on Saturday.
We’d been camping at Rifle Falls State Park and woke to the valley filled with wildfire smoke. We quickly packed up and left. Turned out, the entire western half of Colorado was (and continues to be) choked with smoke from wildfires in the northwest. There was no escaping it.
I’ve spent much of the past several days closed off in my bedroom with an air purifier. My climate anxiety was already high and then the UN released its climate report yesterday. (Just typing those words sent a surge of anxiety throughout my system.)
I called my Senators and Representative today, all wealthy white men from Colorado which has been experiencing the worst air pollution in the world, to urge them to drop their incrementalism and vote to save humanity. The Democrats stuck us with a bi-partisan infrastructure bill (something the loathsome yet highly disciplined Republicans would never, ever have done) and we desperately need the reconciliation bill that addresses climate and poverty. The Progressive Caucus in the House is saying #NoClimateNoDeal if climate is stripped from the reconciliation bill and I can only hope they, for once, hold firm. However, I’m not naive enough to believe they’ll use their power to do the right thing. Time and again, they go along with the status quo that’s currently killing us.
Still, I think it’s well-worth a couple minutes of everyone’s time to call their representatives to demand they vote for the people and planet. Demand they keep the reconciliation bill intact. The Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121
Thank you in advance.
Bees, blooms, and butterflies.
I’m posting this photo as my reward for all I’ve accomplished today:
- Exercise (indoor, again)
- Revised a chapter
- Healthy (mostly) eating
- Finished Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES
- Swept the floor
- Stayed the hell off Twitter (mostly)
- Focused (mostly) on things within my control
- Played with Emma and snuggled with Marcel (and allowed Loki to nap without interruption)
Yes, I’m one of those people who derive great satisfaction from checklists. And they’re especially important to me on days in which I feel very close to the edge.
Well done, Tracy.
I just had a session with my therapist and feel really good!
Wishing those same feelings for everyone out there. Happy Monday!
It’s been a hard day and I’m trying to accomplish tasks here and there in order to stay out of my head. Weeding the front flower beds, laundry, and vacuuming. Reading and writing a tiny bit. Kissing sweet Emma on the head. While all those things were constructive and helpful, they aren’t enough. That’s why I’m posting this photo — so that I can revisit the peaceful image as needed.
And I invite anyone in need of a break from the stresses of reality to do the same.
We live in a rainbow of chaos. ~ Paul Cezanne
We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.
Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.
This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:
And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:
I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*
I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.
This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
It feels as if there’s been an acceleration of the cruelty and inhumanity happening in the world and while I feel the need to bear witness to the suffering (notably that which is sponsored by my government to the tune of $10 million/day which allows Israel to commit genocide against Palestinian people), it wears me down. Nature helps me keep going. Nature is my refuge.
As always, I am exceedingly grateful for its many splendors.
I took this photo a year ago today. As I recall, it was a balmy day filled with bird songs and busy bees. We were in the early days of the pandemic and communing with backyard nature was balm for my soul.
Today, plenty of birds are singing on this cool and rainy day. However, the shrub in the photo is behind last year’s schedule –buds still folded up tight –and I’ve yet to see a bee in the yard. We’re still experiencing a global pandemic, but the blooms and bees are on their way. And when they arrive, I’ll be out there again, drinking in all their glory.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Elizabeth Appell
This feels like a universal quote that applies to all of us, possibly on multiple levels. Here’s hoping we all blossom in one way or another this week. Remember, spring is the season of new growth. (And yes, I’m also speaking to myself here.)
I’ve been struggling mightily with a family-of-origin issue and a while back reached out to the therapist I’d worked with years ago. Her client roster was full so I was put on a wait-list. Well, the wait is over. I’m both grateful and anxious she can now fit me into her schedule. My first appointment is in a few minutes and my insides are fluttering.
I know I need to do the work in order to move ahead. That doesn’t stop me from wishing for a magic wand that could make everything all better.
I’ve been driving the struggle bus lately and haven’t been disciplined about working on my latest book. In the past, I’d work hours and hours at a time on my projects, coming up for air only to discover it was late afternoon and that I’d done little else. These days, I don’t have that drive. Sometimes I’m at peace with this change. Other days, not so much; those critical voices can get pretty damned loud in my head.
Yesterday I realized it felt worse to not work on my book. So I opened the document and reworked a critical early scene between one major and one minor character. Page-wise, I didn’t make huge progress. But characterization and plot-wise, that little bit of work moved the revision forward in a significant manner. Plus, by taking action I was able to douse my angsty-guilty feelings. I hope to do the same today. However, whatever happens I’m going to try hard not to judge myself. It’s hard times on the planet and we all deserve some grace.
Did the healthy thing today: got up and out of the house. After walking Emma in our neighborhood, Zippy and I went to Clear Creek in Golden. This time, I brought my camera. We sat on the boulders lining the creek to eat the lunch Zippy prepared, listening to the rushing water and the geese honking as they flew overhead. An absolutely stellar mental health strategy. 10/10 recommend.
I’m going to make Clear Creek a habit.
I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.
Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):
So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?
Each morning, I play loud, upbeat music to help me get going (one of my go-to songs is What’d I Say by Ray Charles) and yesterday it worked like a charm. I was singing and dancing as I washed my face when suddenly, the reality of what we’re enduring hit me. I froze, staring at my tear-filled eyes in the mirror. I felt a crushing weight, the despair pressing down on me as I remembered all over again that we’re truly on our own. Then I blinked away the tears and sang more loudly. When one day at a time feels like too much, I take it one breath at a time. That’s how I cope.
Please take care of yourselves and hang in there as best you can. My enduring hope is that we the people will rise up together to demand better. In the meanwhile, sing, dance, or do whatever carries you through those especially tough moments.
I’m struggling to focus today so it feels very appropriate to post an out-of-focus flower from my garden last spring.
Even though it’s not a sharp image, the bright pink and the various shades of green are soothing. And I have nothing but admiration for a bloom that stands tall while others hunker down.
Face the week
Embrace the challenges and opportunities
Agitate for a better world
Fight for someone you don’t know.
Confession: I’m still in my pajamas and am working from bed today.
Gathering my strength for Ready, Set, Go!
I’ll be there soon, I promise.
I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.
We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!
Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!
. . . I should stop looking at and thinking about the world at large. At least for a bit.
So today I offer this Painted Redstart which is a species of warbler we saw while visiting Cave Creek Canyon in May of 2019. Such a cheery little bird.
It’s one of those days in which the overwhelm is so great, I can’t make a decision about which of my photos to post. So I’m finally admitting defeat, and going with this fun image from Pixabay.
Because crying is also/always allowed.
As is typical for me these days, I had to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed this morning. After making it to an upright position, the day turned into one thing after another. Small things that demanded my attention and action, but nothing of substance. I have zero sense of accomplishment or completion.
This entire hot, smoky Monday I’ve felt scattered, unfocused, and non-productive. Weepy, screamy, and anxious. Overheated, overwhelmed, and over it all.
I wish it would rain.