Self-care

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.

Lamb’s Ear and honey bee.   July 3, 2021

And I invite anyone in need of a break from the stresses of reality to do the same.

Hairy situation

Like many others, I cut my own hair over the past year. I watched YouTube videos and gave it my best shot with results that were completely acceptable for quarantine purposes. But as my hair grew out from the last cut, it began to look more and more as if I’d sawed it off with a dull knife. So I reached out to the stylist I’d been seeing for years.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In my text, I let her know my family and I were fully vaccinated and asked if she was now taking appointments. She replied, “I’ve been working all this time.” She went on to say that she no longer worked at the salon but was traveling to people’s homes or having them come to her home.

That response raised several red flags. But after taking another look at my hacked hair, I sent a text saying I’d be happy to have her come to my home. I also said that if she wasn’t vaccinated, I’d want us to both wear masks. Hours passed before she replied with an available appointment date/time. Nothing else. With great trepidation, I accepted the appointment for last Friday.

Three days later, I’m still gobsmacked by her attitude. She wore a mask . . . under her nose. When I greeted her and asked how she was doing she replied, “I’m fine” in a tone that suggested this whole silly global pandemic thing had been blown way out of proportion. Ugh. But I was committed, so we went out onto the patio to get started. And as she trimmed/cleaned up my bad cuts, I asked why she was no longer at the salon. She replied, “After COVID, I couldn’t go back.”

My immediate thought was, “You’ve got this all wrong, Tracy! She just didn’t want to be in an unsafe working environment which makes total sense.”

Then she went on to say, “I couldn’t take all the rules and regulations.”

Say what?! All I could think (as this woman wielded sharp scissors around my head) was that she was incredibly selfish. I mean, we’re up to nearly 600k dead people in the U.S. alone and her biggest issue was the rules and regulations?!

Did I say any of that to her? No. Do I regret not speaking up? Kinda, sorta. While people like that need to be called out, I don’t believe my words would make one bit of difference. Also? Sharp scissors.

I won’t be utilizing her services anymore. But the one good thing that came of our appointment was her response to the sight of my older-woman long hair: “So you’re not doing short hair anymore?” That comment got me to take a long, hard look at my appearance and I’ve decided I’m going back to short hair. I have an appointment for Wednesday at a new-to-me salon that enforces a whole bunch of COVID rules and regulations. I can’t wait.

Better than it looks

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.

Ice, snow, and water rushing over a rock in Clear Creek. January 12, 2021.

I’m going to make Clear Creek a habit.

 

Twofer Tuesday: shadow edition

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?

Twofer Tuesday: goat therapy

I gave myself the day off and spent it in bed reading adult fiction (Tana French’s THE WITCH ELM). Self-care without guilt. Write my 1,000 words? Only if it felt right. I wasn’t going to butt heads with myself and turn it into a negative situation.

Photo by Hans Lindgren from Pexels

I’m happy to say I’m now in the head-space to crank out my daily word count. Thank you to these adorable goats for their role in helping me get there. And now I’m off to write . . .

Sunday Confessional: murder

I started the quarantine with only about eight checked-out library books that I read *sob* and then held onto for months until my library system started accepting returns again. While I did download a few ebooks this spring, I don’t enjoy that format, and instead concentrated on my bookshelves. The bad news is, I’ve already read most of what I have at home. The good news? I don’t mind rereading books.

This past week or so, I’ve reread three Raymond Chandler novels featuring Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep; The High Window; The Lady in the Lake) and two Rex Stout novels featuring Nero Wolfe (Might As Well Be Dead; Death of a Doxy).

Witty private detectives + murder = self-care.

Rx for what ails me

Today’s been exhausting on multiple levels: personal, professional, societal, and human-on-the-planet. I just took a much-needed nap and am now posting this burst of yellow as a reminder of all the beauty in our world.

July 12, 2020.

Next on my self-care agenda? Scrubbing out my kitchen sinks.

Please do whatever you need to take care of yourselves.

Sanctuary

This afternoon I packed notebook, binoculars, camera, blanket, and camp chair, and walked up the street and out into the open space. I’m still not feeling great so only “hiked” a short distance before settling in. I spent that time outdoors doing much and also very little.

I sat in the chair and watched birds through the binoculars. I rested on the blanket in the sun, welcoming the heat baking into my black shirt. I explored the immedate area with my camera, jotted in my notebook, and eavesdropped on hikers talking on the nearby trail. When my stomach growled, I fantasized about snacks. I photographed the moon in the blue sky. I rolled onto my back to watch this uncharacteristically mellow Dark-eyed Junco in the tree above me.

Those two hours outside were balm for my soul. I’m very grateful for the luxury and ease of walking up my street and out into the open. Next time, I’ll know to bring something to eat.

Slight exaggeration

I’m quite sure it’s only stress-induced illness, but I haven’t consistently felt like my normal self over the past 12 days. As soon as I feel better and exert myself, it sets me back again. So, I’m now embracing my inner slug. Today, for instance, I spent all day in bed. And you know what helps make me feel the very best?

Image by Erik Tanghe from Pixabay

Humidity.

I’ve been closed off in my bedroom, reading and writing, while the humidifier sends a constant stream of vapor into the air. My cough doesn’t stand a chance against all the moisture. Don’t worry, there’s no fungal in this bedroom jungle. Not yet, anyway.

Resting in the grace of the world

Green Heron, Kapok Park. January 11, 2019

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~ Wendell Berry

Twofer Tuesday: wading siblings edition

After picking up our younger brother from the Tampa airport, we missed a turn on the drive home and ended up discovering a hidden gem: Cypress Point Park. Here are my brother and sister wading in the very cold Tampa Bay water, searching for crabs, minnows, and other ocean life.

That was probably the most refreshing “wrong turn” I’ve ever experienced and I highly recommend visiting the park if you’re in the area.

Today I aim for GENTLE

Novels are such mysterious and amorphous and tender things.
~ Arundhati Roy

True that. And not only am I treating my novel gently today, but also myself. This revision doesn’t need to be perfect, and will never be so. No nasty voices allowed.

What will matter most at the end of the day is that I showed up.

Thankful Thursday: people-and-places-in-my-head edition

I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I’m very grateful for my creative life.

For the past few days, I’ve immersed myself in a work-in-progress project I’d had to put on hold for much of December while working on another, and yesterday told Zippy I’d fallen in love with the manuscript all over again. I’m grateful to love the work I do.

Today my gratitude is more specifically about the refuge my fiction provides.  Admittedly, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. Earlier, I had to make a shaking-mad phone call to my House Rep’s office after learning about his pro-NSA surveillance vote and I just hopped onto Twitter in time to read about Agent Orange’s racist and hateful remarks about people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin America. The very act of writing that out has me so agitated, I’m now chewing at my cuticles. Clearly, the people and places in my head don’t keep the ugly at bay 24/7.

BUT.

I do have an outlet when the current reality feels too horrible to contemplate. And I hope that’s true for everyone, whether it’s watching goat videos or smelling sweet puppy breath or welding sculptures or hiking or drumming or blowing raspberries on a baby’s chubby tummy or resting in a pool of sunshine or . . .

Please, do whatever it takes.

Thankful Thursday: The I-finally-freakin’-did-it edition

If you happen upon this, writer-friend Linda Salzman, you might be happy to know that yesterday I finally, finally wrote the final scenes of the YA I’ve been wrestling with since the beginning of time. Are they perfectly written scenes? Hells no. Are they fleshed-out scenes? Absolutely not. Are they even close to being what they’d need to be in a final draft? HAHAHAHAHA.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement (“Do it!”) to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

The scenes I wrote yesterday are, at this point, a collection of placeholder words. A roadmap for the next draft (should I ever have the inclination to wade into the manuscript that right now feels like a horrible, torturous place to spend time). I learned about the value of using placeholder words from writer-friend Laurie Schneider, and I must say it’s one of the most liberating tools in my writing kit. The pressure is off when I’m creating placeholder words; all that’s required of me is to literally hold the place in the manuscript with clues for my authorial intent. The details come later.

So after writing those scenes, I printed out a hard copy and wrote out a few notes for myself before packing everything away in an accordion file. At the soonest, I’ll read that manuscript again in a month. But I have a feeling it’ll take longer than that for me to muster enthusiasm. After finishing, I’d gone back to read the opening chapter, thinking it would fire me up by reminding me the rest of the book is stronger than the ending. *insert hysterical laughter* Turns out, I’d arrived at the THIS BOOK SUCKS MORE THAN A HOOVER stage, and it’s gonna take some time for those feelings to fade.

The good news? I’m already reacquainting myself with another project. This one has huge potential and fills me with excitement. So take that, nasty voice! (Also, I was very grateful for the distraction of this “new” project when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie Reynolds dying the day after losing her beloved daughter.)

There are sad and horrible things happening all over the planet, but I’m grateful for the fictional worlds I create in my mind. Sometimes the pretend is the only thing keeping me from being crushed by the real.

 

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Old Dog political perspective

I’m an old dog; I don’t get too excited.
I don’t get caught up in all the mass hysteria.
Tim Howard

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

I literally made myself ill in 2004 working against a second G.W. Bush/Cheney term, and today saw a photo of the radiant Michelle Obama embracing the loathsome Bush who created the cyle of death and destruction that continues today. Seeing them together like that was a kick to the gut.

And then I realized I shouldn’t be at all surprised.

Michelle’s husband expanded many of the immoral programs Bush put in place (drone program, for example), giving those Republican programs a bipartisan blessing that effectively cemented them as permanent U.S. policies. Now we’re about to have Round Two of a Clinton presidency, and the power structure keeps rolling along.

 An oligarchy runs this country and exploits the rest of the planet, and while it infuriates me, I refuse to make myself sick over it.

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Micromanaging my emotions

When I get frustrated and angry it sometimes helps to focus on something else, preferably something pleasing and/or interesting to look at. Something with different colors and textures, sizes and shapes, and quality of light.  penstemon

Something that reminds me of my tiny role in the universe.

 

 

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An introvert walks into a party…

For much of my life I believed I was an extrovert because I enjoy meeting people and having conversations, making people laugh. But I can only do that for so long before I feel drained of energy. I learned that I need alone time to recharge my batteries (which is what defines an introvert), whereas extroverts recharge their batteries by being around other people.

The past several days were filled with socializing. Zippy and I had family and friends in town, which meant lots and lots of talking and laughing and laughing and talking. By the time we got home yesterday evening, I was wiped out. The strange thing was, I didn’t realize how far gone I was until I was in my jammies and on the couch ready to watch some Netflix. It was too much being in the same room with Zippy and I needed to be completely alone. So I closed myself off in our room.

from The Quiet Revolution (quietrev.com)

from The Quiet Revolution (www.quietrev.com)

Today was spent refilling my well.
Lots of quiet time.
A couple naps.
And it wasn’t until this evening that I had the energy
for a little yoga and some hoop dancing.

I finally feel like me again.