Hyper-Vigilance as a Comfort

I guess I am putting a lot of this out there, the low level anxiety… that’s because it’s something I am really trying to understand. I don’t have crippling panic attacks, I lead a fairly high-functioning life, but I am trying to work on these visceral reactions within basically any relationship I have … And trying to understand why there is this constant state of checking to see if I have done something “wrong,” which strangely also feels like a place I am comfortable in. Today in therapy we talked about what that hyper-vigilance / anxiety physically looks and feels like. I said it was dark and sticky. But I also realized tonight that it comforts me, it’s a defense mechanism, one that isn’t needed any more, but still wants to hold me tight when it thinks I am threatened or when I am feeling vulnerable. I’m going to work on comforting it, instead of letting it comfort me. At least all of this gives me good fodder for muses 🙂

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Early mornings by the fire

I like to sleep. I’ve been known to sleep 12-14 hours straight. Rarely, I will wake up early and decide that I need to get out of bed because whatever thoughts that woke me seem worse when mulling them under the covers.

Last night I went to bed early, feeling a vague sense of disquiet that I thought would be easier for my subconscious sort out. But no. I woke well before my alarm, and tossed and turned, and made up some really depressing narratives about my life, so I got out of bed, fired up the wood stove, and made my coffee. Pulled up the footstool and stared at the flames thinking I would wake up a little more and logic my way through the waves of unfounded anxiousness. It didn’t work.

But it was cozy, and the coffee tasted good. I tried to remain focused on feeling grateful for that. I stumbled through the rest of my day, and here I am again, in front of the wood stove, water, instead of coffee, thinking about going to bed already.

Leaving a trail of words

Walking home from therapy today I felt like I was dropping all the words from the last hour in the puddles behind me. Not in a way that meant I was shrugging them off, but more like a constant leak of crumbs. The loaf of bread is still mine, but those crumbs, man oh man, they get strewn everywhere. It’s funny how the brain works, those pesky neural networks, super highways of highly emotional belief systems… It’s exhausting trying to reroute those things! But I’ll keep trying.

Doing the Winter Thing

Today I finally strapped on the snowshoes and went for a little woodswalk by myself. It was absolutely lovely. There were several deer tracks, some that looked pretty fresh, so I followed those and sure enough, flushed a deer! I would have followed along to try and get a photo but with the deep snow I figured it didn’t need to exert any more energy.

The rest of the day was a blur of puttering around the apartment, chatting with friends, and reviewing emails to try and cobble together a schedule for the rest of the week (the work load is looking a little grim, I’ll be going to bed early tonight…)

Sometimes there's just me.

Sometimes I look back on my day and it’s all about what to sketch: Bunny and Porcupine, or maybe snarky little birds, or spiders just trying to fit in… Sometimes my memory of the day is all about the people I interacted with: Did I annoy them? Did they figure out their dilemma? Are they feeling better? Should I email them tomorrow? Sometimes the day goes by and at the end of it I have no thoughts at all. I’m not even sure what I did all day. Did I work? I must have. Did I go outside? I hope so.

However, sometimes I reach the end of my day and I’m just me. In my moment. No reminiscing. Still drawing bunnies but there’s nothing in my head but a flow of crazy feelings and words that I can’t seem to put on paper.

That’s me tonight. Fortunate enough to have a comfy couch under me, and cozy fire in the stove keeping me warm. I think I crossed enough off my To-Do List that I can feel accomplished, but don’t ask me what I did today.

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Snow. More snow. Did I mention it snowed on Sunday?

We knew it was coming. But still, that first plunge out the door was a little deeper than I expected. I had heard the plow guy next door and waded off the porch and down the driveway in hopes of catching him and asking if he’d tackle mine as well. Thankfully he was going up and down my street and did clean up the driveway for me… the porcupine and I dug into the pathways and clearing off the cars with gusto.

More has fallen since then, but I think it’s slowing down. Maybe 2 ft total? Hard to say. Enough. More than enough actually.

Then there was a short snowshoe with friends this afternoon, followed by a movie and tea and laughs… then I walked home in the fierce wind that has started up. Very Cold. Very. In fact the temps for tonight are forecasted for -7 with a windchill bringing it down to -24. Tomorrow has a high temp of 2. Suffice to say I won’t be going far. Chicken soup for supper, and the fire chugging away. Hope you all had a cozy day and night and morning!

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Poetry

The poet Mary Oliver died on Thursday. I wouldn’t consider myself “into” poetry, and yes, I realize that sounds lame… but her words always hit home for me. I could flip through any of her collections and find a poem that would give me pause, and then send me running into nature as fast as I could, to breathe in everything that is alive. I had this poem, and a bit of this illustration, running through my head most of the day, so when I finally settled down tonight I had to get it on paper.

For the birds...

Winter has arrived! We had a 2-day storm that brought 12” of snow, followed now by sub-zero temps… I bit the bullet and hired someone to plow my driveway (best $20 ever spent) and have kept a slow and steady fire going in the wood stove (while at the same time feeling grateful for the gas back-up heater in my kitchen)…

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I’ve had a bird feeder out for a few weeks, but have learned that the birds have a buffet on my street, so I need to up my seed game. There’s a small gang of chickadees that come by, and they seem to have adopted a tufted titmouse or two. Two female cardinals and one male pass by once in a while, and a woodpecker that honestly just seemed lost. If I see him again I’ll try and draw him, because he seems like a wonderful vagabond character.

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I’ve been feeling really grateful the last few days, it’s easy for me to focus on all the little “bad” things in my life, and I am guilty of the “glorification of busy” — I really want to snap out of that headspace. Yes, I am busy with work, and that’s fantastic! Yes, I am feeling a little run down and am sleeping a lot, and am appreciating the fact that I have time available to take care of myself! Sometimes I worry about relationships I have, and I then I smile, and remind myself how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I have.

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So, yeah, some birds, some motivational words, and wishing you all a warm weekend ❤️

Nostalgic

It’s interesting being around friends who never knew Lyttle (or Barbara!). I miss talking with Barbara whenever something exciting happens in my life. But I miss Lyttle in the quiet times. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember how Lyttle would remind me that life should be simple. When I feel my jaw clenching up, I remember how Lyttle would make me laugh. He was the reason I went for walks, no matter how cold it was out. Even when he was blind he reminded me to really see things.

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I was thinking of him a lot this evening, he would have really liked my woodstove. He would have tripped over the little inclines in and out of the rooms here. And he would have grumbled at the bottom of the stairs every morning while waiting for breakfast.

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I found the list I wrote after he died. When he was dreaming, and his feet would twitch, I wondered if he had sight in his dreams. I hope so. He was a good teacher. I have his name tag on my backpack, I like to think his adventurous, stubborn, and grouchy spirit is along for the ride.

Taking down decorations and life goes on

Today I slowly dismantled the Christmas tree, sorted holiday cards, and snooped around the apartment looking for all the little decorations I had hung, propped up, and precariously perched on shelves… There’s always one that I forget about, destined to be on permanent display. For some reason it made me feel… sad? No, not quite sad. Not anxious. Thoughtful? It was a cozy holiday all in all, but today while putting things away, well, I felt oddly lonely.

Not in an unloved way, but in a little lonely way of not being settled. I guess it’s a feeling of no matter what is stable and good in my life — I still feel a little like I’m on my own, a little adrift. It’s the word I think of when I feel that small ball of nothingness in my gut. Lonely. I’m reading about the third chakra (thank you therapy session number 4) and trying to find the right word to explain what feelings live there for me is difficult.

Anyway, today the tree went out in the snow bank. And I stood there for a moment just looking at it, remembering the porcupine and I walking about 15 feet into the woods to get it, and thinking what a good tree it was, when a gang of 3 birds showed up. I’d seen the woodpecker before (I think there is only one coming around) and there was a tufted titmouse (there are at least 3 that show up) and a chickadee (who the hell knows which one it was, there’s a mob of them that hang out here) and they all found a place to sit and proceeded to chirp loudly at me for a good 5 minutes… I imagined them chastising me for once again spending too much time overthinking things, and weighing in on the quality of seed in the feeder…

The Last Day of 2018

2018 is winding down and it feels like it is ending on a positive note… I want to thank my readers, card & art buyers, and friends and family for following along this year, it’s been a bit of a ride. I feel like 2018 was a year full of people who helped me in saying Yes… and saying No… For the first time in a very long time I have a living space that I feel comfortable in, and comfortable inviting others into as well, and OH what a wonderful feeling that is.

I’m looking forward to sharing my art and little bits of my life in the months ahead… even though this site started a few years ago, I feel like I am still figuring out what I want to put “out there.” In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy today (in between work projects) and look forward to seeing the New Year in…

It's okay to cry.

Tears come easily to me – when I am sad, anxious, angry, or just confused. Even when I’m overwhelmed with happiness! I seem to apologize a lot when I cry. Sometimes I feel like it’s interfering with what I am trying to say, but mostly I feel as if I’m putting a burden on the person I am with. Fortunately I’ve had some people in my life who remind me that it’s a gift to cry, that there is a reason I am crying. I’m trying to spend more time being aware of what triggers my tears, and work on what’s happening behind them.

And now we wait for the New Year...

2018 caught me off guard. There were changes I had put into action… leaving a relationship and finding a new home was challenging… in terms of having to deal with some of my life choices sooner than later, and in practical terms of remaining self-employed and deadline focused while negotiating rent and moving to a new town…

Then there were changes that I hadn’t anticipated. Emotional roller coasters… the porcupine wandering into my life (or more that I wandered into his)… the unexpected death of a friend, and the friendships I made after that… creative ruts and slowly, creative highs… family matters… Balancing working from home again and the anxiety that creates when I finally do need to go out into the Real World… realizing that emotional issues that I thought I had dealt with, were just hiding under the surface all the time... reconnecting with old friends, and learning boundaries with some new ones.

It doesn’t look like things will be slowing down in 2019, and I’m okay with that. Or rather, I am working on being prepared for that…