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Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

Yesterday I picked up garbage

23 May

2:04 pm

Yep. Instead of doing anything else, I got so sick of seeing trash in our neighborhood, I went out (for the second time in a few weeks) and picked it up. From about 1 to 3:30 or 4, I picked up trash along the side of the road and in the bush (our loving expression for all the trees and green stuff that fills our hillsides and makes this place so green and tropical…in the wet season; right now, it’s really dry, quite ugly), and I filled five 13-gallon bags. Last time, I filled four bags!

It makes me so angry–what the eff is wrong with people here?, I think. Then, I have to admit to myself that it is like this everywhere in the world, more or less. Maybe not so much in less populated areas, or, “unicorn areas,” where everyone cares about the environment enough to not throw their trash out the car window in the first place; but, littering happens in the first world, it happens in the second world (where I live, I would call us second or maybe 2.5-world–haha), and it happens in the third world. (When I volunteered for a few months in a developing country a few years ago, we went to the beach one weekend and I saw, as I dunked my head under the water, a full LINE of trash floating along the sandy bottom, lapping against the shore).

It had to be done; I mean, sure, I felt dirty, disgusting, gross, and angry. Still, I had to do it–I walk these roads every day for pleasure, for exercise; if no one else is going to do it, I have to do it because I want to at least believe that I am living in a clean place (granted, there is still so much OTHER trash buried along the hillsides in the bush, I just can’t see it)! I feel like going to our Home Depot and buying a sign that says, No Dumping; I want to make my own sign that says, This is Not a Dump, Assholes–People Live Here, but, I have the feeling that’s probably not what I should do (haha).

I don’t know why people here litter; I can GUESS that it’s because they have not been taught not to litter. I think it really comes down to example: if your parents throw trash around, you will, too. If you aren’t taught to care for your environment, you won’t. Sometimes I think it’s an unconscious expression of self-loathing, as in, no one cares about us, so why should we care about them/the natural world? Partly it’s because there are, actually, a lack of garbage cans; an infrequent spread of dumpsters and compactors along the roads; and, frankly, I am not even sure if there are things like fines or citations if you’re caught being a litterbug here.

I don’t know; what I DO know is that, I just had to pick it up. And, once done, I wondered, was it even worth it? You can’t really tell that any trash has been picked up as you’re driving by; plus, people are just going to throw more trash around, and I’ll have to go out again in a week or month and pick up the endless plastic cups, Heineken bottles (rolls eyes; people here LOVE them some Heineken–haha), car parts (don’t even get me started on how irritated I get seeing random car parts, entire cars, um, household appliances…just thrown off the hillside into the bush!?)…

I do think it’s worth it, as is any attempt at improvement. I mean, it’s sort of like getting sober–no one notices the changes that are happening inside of you as much as you do. Maybe no one pays attention at all. But you know. And, it changes you, knowing that you are finally acting to change your life, that your actions are finally changing your life.

Anyway, I am glad I did it. There are regular beach cleanups here, but I haven’t done one in a long time. I figured, doing my ‘hood two times (for a total of nine bags) might make up for that…

Today will be a good day; it’s sunny, I am not hungover (ever-grateful), and in addition to going for a jog and doing a few tedious “paperwork”-type things, I am going to try to make pad thai from scratch for dinner. I just heard that restaurants here are opening to limited numbers of patrons next week, after the holiday, which is good news on multiple counts (my boo works in the industry, so it’ll be good to have things back up and running again, if only partially; and, while we love cooking at home, it’s getting old!). No playing with trash today, friends!

Our dog is resting peacefully in her spot in the bedroom. Every time I walk by her, I check to see if she’s still breathing–sad, but true. She’s hanging in there, but, she is definitely no longer living her best life; I had to force her to go outside to pee last night, but she could barely walk out there to do it. As usual, she had pooped on her bed this morning; so far, she’s been too tired to go outside today so that I can wash her off. Poor friend; there truly is no dignity in aging, as my boo said the other day.

This is starting to be a rambler of a post, so I will sign off. Have a wonder-full Saturday, all…

Exercise is my medicine

19 May

4:41 pm

Or, maybe I should say, putting my body into motion, out of doors!  (of course, I am talking about outdoors in a warm climate; yeah, I used to suit up and go jogging in the snow…in my early 20s, when I was too broke to afford a gym/didn’t know any better–haha)

Long story short, I have been thinking about thinking lately–well, a lot; obsessed with it, actually.  Is it called, metacognition?  I think that might be an actual area of study, and I am FAR from being in a place of that much understanding when it comes to what I think and why I hold onto my thoughts.  I have been tempted for many, many months to stop writing altogether, including in my journal–I wonder, is focusing on bringing the chatter, the negativity, the maybe-meaningless observations to life in the form of words and sentences only serving to perpetuate a state of stagnation, of wallowing, of confusion?

Most of my life, and especially as someone who likes to write (or, let’s face it, a writer; I can’t not write, and sometimes I think that is 100% compulsion, not desire); I have put value on both my thoughts and analyzing my thoughts–as if they were important, or held some key to the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of MY life.  After getting sober and writing about the process, which, admittedly involved a LOT of thinking and thoughts (haha); then moving into more longer-term sobriety, where the thinking and thoughts have become more like incessant chatter and less like answers to the problems of the universe–I don’t really know where thinking and thoughts fit into my overall picture of mental health anymore.

Anyway, today, I drafted a long post, discovered that much of it sounded, well, insane, and was like, GAH, I need to walk away from this.  I suited up in my running gear and went out into nature.  And I swear, all the chatter stopped.  And, it was glorious.  This is why I run, walk, or swim, or do yoga–always in constant motion, it seems.  It just soothes my mind; quiets it.  I mean, as I was gliding along, I just looked around at the trees, the hillside with different patterns of shadows and sunlight coating the asphalt, the multicolored homes of different angles, shapes, and sizes–I looked around and asked myself, so, are you thinking anything when you look around at nature, when you feel the sun on your shoulders?  Yes, but no.  I am thinking, but it’s more of a one-tone feeling of peace, of rightness, or nothing-good-or-bad-it-just-is.  I don’t judge the world around me, and most importantly, it doesn’t judge me (or, I don’t believe it does).  It is not thinking toward me, and I am not thinking toward it.  I just feel this uplifted feeling, and it is simply positive.  Not necessary to think anything; just necessary to be, which is easy out there, in the natural world.

There is something about being around other people that is incessant chatter-provoking.  I would say, being in the natural world, generally, is thought-provoking (the good kind of thinking; the big thoughts that help you solve a problem or see something more clearly).

I just love exercise; I always feel better, less thought-full, literally.  And, rejuvenated, especially if I’ve exercised outdoors.  I guess I can say that exercise is my medicine; my anti-chatter “pill.”  And, these days, I am beginning to wonder if MOST, if not all, of my thinking is chatter…  Which begs the question, what does a writer write about if most of what she thinks she considers useless chatter?

On the dog front, our girl is plugging away, better than she was a few weeks ago when her left hind leg gave out.  It seems to have gotten less lame–she can walk on it now, but not that far.  Good news is, she can go on walks, usually only one per day, if that.  Bad is that, even though her left hind seems better than non-functional, both her hind legs are very weak; I have to use the harness for most of the walk these days to help her stand, walk, and um, pee and poop (let’s face it, she poops sitting down almost all the time now).  Her mental faculties are there, and she is still fierce and funny; it’s just…I can’t forget that her time is short.

And, I am still off the ‘book (Facebook), five weeks as of yesterday.  While I don’t necessarily miss anyone’s updates, or the noise; I am starting to feel a bit…isolated, or out of it.  So…that’s that; I’ll probably go on soon, but it’s nice to be in my bubble a little bit longer to continue to collect myself (so that I can go back out there, into the external world, and give of myself while also stay centered and sane).

Cherish the moment

15 Feb

8:18 pm

Lately, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking, working, analyzing–one day, I keep telling myself, I won’t have to do what I do for a living; one day, I can do something different.  Then, I look at how much it costs to buy a home and think, um, yeah, I better keep my day job, as it were!

Anyway, this morning, I had a really nice moment:

Between the “partly” and “cloudy,” we had a few minutes of sunshine.  It is truly glorious here after a short, light rain:  the water gets caught in all the tropical nooks and crannies, and it makes everything sparkle as the breeze blows.

I took my coffee outside and found a patch of sun and just stood there.  I noticed a HUGEASS spider–we have these crazy-big, black-and-grey, striped spiders down here, and they like to weave their nests in the bush, from branch to branch.  I saw it and just stared.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw motion, and it turned out to be this orangey lizard slowly and smoothly swishing its razor-fine tail back and forth in the light.  Next, I fixated on a quiet bee meandering through the air, from one landing spot to a future one, no doubt.  I could hear the near-symphony of sounds, scents, and movement in the air–all enveloped in this quiet calm.  There was no rush, nothing to think about, nothing to analyze.  It is, to me, a heavenly place, the natural world, especially the tropical one.  So much life, and crosstalk, yet complete harmony.

Ahh, I thought.  I’d love to be here one day, a part of this world; no longer analyzing, or trying to remember, or attempting to capture or somehow hold onto this moment.  It’s an illusion, the stress of not holding onto it; there is no need to hold what does not go away, what is constant.  And, in this rare moment this morning, all I wanted to do was have this moment, to observe it, and then, let it go.  And, I did.

It’s been a long year so far, with every day presenting challenges to my motivation and sanity!  However, I am reminded (thankfully, on days like today) of the “real-er” world around me, the one that does not need to be understood or made better or fixed; it never needs to be analyzed; its moments are special, but they are transient and meant to be let go.

I am glad I had a moment like this, this morning, to remember that good things are coming my way; just be here, now.

Life is meaningless! Nothing really matters! I don’t have to drink over it, though.

17 Nov

2:30 pm

First up, I’m happy to report an absolutely drama-free morning. A full morning — swam, meditated, made cornbread muffins, washed my bikinis, pet the dog. Believe me, pre-sobriety, I NEVER would have been able boast about doing any of this, certainly not on a Saturday morning!

I’ve been swimming for exercise, and it’s been helping my sciatica, which has been flaring the past few months. (I think hormonal fluctuations play a huge role, so I’ll have to figure out if there’s anything I can do about that.)

Anyway, the past three days I got up around 7 and was at the local beach and in the water by 8 — YES, PIGS DO FLY. It’s been great for my back and leg pain, great for my arms, great for my spirit, great for my sense of accomplishment and therefore, work, and great for my calm. Each time, I’ve swum for about an hour or more — or, have tried to (the crawl was never my forte, and the salt water is a bit rough).

A lot of peeps in AA talk about how they feel good here, in the water. Floating, or swimming, or just being in it. Or, they talk about how their sobriety is enhanced and/or supported by being outdoors. It doesn’t hurt that we’re in an amazing location — and for me, as I’ve blogged before, the heat and humidity activate my sensual body, which makes me feel much more excited about being alive.

I, too, feel good in the water. Better than good. I feel so small, yet so big, in the water. I feel a PART of the ocean, like I could wrap my arms around it. I feel like it wants me, too; or at least, doesn’t shy away. There is no big old brain — mine or someone else’s — making things weird and awkward. I can Just Relax.

In AA, they say that anything can be your higher power, and mine is shaping up to be the HUNCH (in my scientific and nature-loving mind) that the aliveness — everything alive — on this planet is physically, literally OF ME. We are one. We are wired together, from eons of evolving together, to act and live and “think,” as it were, together. As one. So, no wonder I feel more complete, more whole, more alive — and more at peace, at home — in nature. And, especially in the water! Our ancestors lived in the water; we share, literally, the DNA in their cells. Could it be that those cells, which make up our body and brains, which eventually allow us to think and reason and feel and understand through their cellular activity — those cells remember? That the expression of those snippets of DNA is literally the same, across species and across millions of years? I feel it; we all feel it. What that “it” is, I don’t know.

Last night, my boyfriend and I toured the Etelman Observatory, a previously privately-owned dome on the top of the island that was donated to UVI in the ’60s. Anyway, it was Friday night, and what better way to spend the evening than to hear a lecture and then look through a telescope (yes, through a real lens and not a computer attached to the scope — apparently, a big deal and a real treat for astronomers). We saw Jupiter and four of its moons! Very cool. Very cool also to listen to the professor’s talk about asteroids and comets and meteors, and then see pictures of Earth and our solar system bathed, literally, in debris. Like, we are surrounded by rocks and shit flying around us in space.

What struck me was how very, very, very small we are. And how very, very, very either unlikely or likely that this kind of life — bacteria, dinosaurs, humans, rabbits, whales, ferns, lilies, to name a few — could develop and evolve on a planet other than Earth. Either we ARE unique, which is statistically extremely unlikely, or the right conditions developed and persisted on this planet. Those same conditions could develop and persist and lead to an entirely different range of life forms on some other planet, somewhere, in the Universe. No biggie. I mean, the Universe could give less than a rat’s ass; it is absolutely indifferent. Does this comfort me, or confuse me? Both. BUT, I came away from that lecture and viewing feeling more OPEN to accepting life — and evolution — more at face value.

I think I have always held out hope that Earth is particular, and that we, as humans, have been positioned here for a reason. Ironically, all this talk of a directly-intervening god has helped me to understand “Him” better — that I don’t believe in this at all.

There is no God, per se. There is, however, an “order” to things, a way of life, literally, on this planet. Could it be that all life on our planet is, like I said, wired together? Like all the bacteria in a culture, or, all the fish in a school? Is this why we feel more connected to a larger sense of Being, of Self, I guess, when we’re in an ocean or near a forest, places teeming with life?

This is important to my drinking how? Well, for me, the seeking of a sense of purpose, a sense of self, a sense of fitting into this world, this solar system, this galaxy, this Universe — I need to know where I fit; and when I don’t, I feel lost and empty. Does it matter? Should it? I drink over this. I feel helpless and hopeless about it all sometimes. Why not drink? It takes these thoughts (and feelings) away and swaps in grandiose ideas, emotional waves of goodness, a complete lack of caring about the bigger picture. I need to know that it’s OK for it not to matter — in a good way. I mean, if you’re looking at Earth from another galaxy, does anything here really matter; and if it does, what does THAT matter anyway? 😉

After my swim, I sat there and meditated. I enjoy meditating now; it brings me such relief to be ABLE to sit there and enjoy just sitting there. (Believe me, I’m not perfect, and most of the time, I do think. But, I call it meditating because it is an attempt to just sit there and absorb life without thinking about it.) It’s taken me close to a full year to be able to just Sit and Be. And, I consider that a large step in my recovery from addiction to outside substances for my “happiness.” If you think about how much we, as humans, value our thinking brains relative to how much damage they do to us, to how much thoughts simply get in our way? I would even posit that less thinking, less caring, less wondering is serving me better these days! I don’t have to DO anything — I can, and I want to, but I don’t have to care or feel guilty about not caring about the outcome. That is liberating to me, and it partially explains why I can sit — in relative peace and comfort — and watch the water for hours and NOT want to escape this “not doing anything.”

I am taking someone to a meeting tonight, so I guess I have to go. It’s a beginner’s meeting and I have no other plans, so, why the heck not? 😉 (AA, I love you.)

Hello, Higher Power, it’s me, Drunky Drunk Girl!

7 Nov

11:03 pm

Today. Jesus. I try, I really do, but I lose perspective when I’m PMSing. A’ll I’ll say is, the week or weeks before my period, I just go mad. Back pain flares, my sugar cravings intensify, and today, a week late, I’m crying on the hillside under a blazing sun in the middle of the day.

“God,” I commanded, with about as much serenity as a hammer, “fucking HELP.” Then, I stopped along the side of the road and cried. And, did I even make it look dramatic for, well, drama’s sake? NO. Did I sit down, hold my head in my hands, and weep uncontrollably? Nope. I just sort of mumbled and stumbled and decided to walk home because the tears and sunscreen were making my eyes burn.

Not three minutes later, as I’m descending the hill toward our house’s road, my neighbor drives up out of hers. So, my neighbor is one of the most “conscious” women I know, and at 29, one of the oldest souls I know. This girl is NEVER not radiating joy. I mean, it’s almost funny, and I don’t know if she was born that way or just works extra hard at cultivating nirvana — or both — but man, her energy is simple, direct, and uplifting. Anyway, I see my neighbor, and we chat for a few minutes, and then she drives away. Coincidence…or direct intervention by my as yet unknown HP? Hmm…

After that boost, I came home and was able to sit and just let my drama pass. And then I consciously chose to proceed with my day. It wasn’t easy, though. But, like someone in AA advised me to do, I allowed myself to experience the frustration (What am I doing here? What do I have to do that lends my time purpose?), agitation (Am I missing out on life in [cold east coast city]? I feel so far away from “things” there!), and sadness (Have I exited the ring for good? Can I put my boxing gloves back on and restart my professional life, or is it time to move on, at least to a different kind of writing?).

Anyway, the day got better. I spent a few hours at one of my favorite beaches, where I swam/snorkeled. It reminded me of why I’m here and what matters, which is appreciating the beauty of the water and coral, the ability to swim, and the bliss of being alone doing so.

And, I realized again that I am way too hard on myself. I get so down on myself for what I DON’T have in my life (kids, a house, a boring job). What about what I do have? Independence, intelligence, experiences galore, my life here, a budding (if I actually water it) freelance career, friends, love, AA, my sobriety and blossoming self-understanding beyond what I thought was possible even a few months ago. My present calm and acceptance. My future. I could like, go back to school for public health, anthropology, or marine biology; I could do some cool shit like research, travel, dig, dive along coral reefs. I could write, fund personal projects, rebuild a house, plant a garden, raise goats, volunteer and travel, have kids or adopt them! WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT MY LIFE?

And, I had a somewhat strange realization (well, I had it after my AA meeting tonight, where I’ve decided to Take It Easy, come to meetings and not drink; and not beat myself up about not doing anything more than that at the moment): I am an alcoholic because I say I am an alcoholic. And, with the help of peeps in the meetings, who sound just like me, I am (almost) convinced of that. I don’t have to consult with others, compare myself to others, incorporate what anyone else says about me or my “problem” into my thoughts and reflections, dreams or goals. And, this is a good thing! I don’t have to feel bad about it because I’m not doing it out of spite, or as a way to cut people out; I’m doing it because I’ve arrived at a point along the way to enlightenment, which is, to me, a form of surrender = I can’t care anymore what anyone else does or thinks, and that includes what anyone thinks about my drinking and/or my being a drunk.

For a long time, up until, um, probably tonight, I’ve been wondering: am I really an alcoholic? I often look back and remember not ONE person except my current boyfriend telling me to go to AA. And, there were a lot of friends who either drank with me or knew I drank WAY too much, too often, and dangerously. I ask myself why was that? Was it because they were clueless, or had their own problems? Sure. Was it because they didn’t want me to get better as that meant losing a drinking buddy as well as losing someone who made them feel better about their own shenanigans? Probably. Was it because none of them really, truly thought I was an alcoholic, based on what seems to be a circulating presumption about the definition of “alcoholic” but what doesn’t come close to what it actually means? Yes.

You’re an alcoholic if you say you are, I’ve realized. And this, my friends, is a good thing to know! Before, I would have said, I’m NOT an alcoholic. Now, I know I am. What that means for me in the larger sense, I have yet to find out. What that means in terms of my future drinking habits, I have yet to find out. Meetings and hearing others like myself have made me see it for a fact. But, it’s my own conclusion that matters, and noting that will help me move forward dealing with it on my own without having to explain it to others, or involve them, on a certain level. I guess I’ve discovered boundaries. Yay!

Chocolate time. I’d love a glass of red wine, too. Le sigh.

Hello, islands! Too bad I can’t drink any of your booze…

17 Jul

1:38 pm

And, let me tell you (though, I probably don’t need to), there’s a shit-ton of it here! 😦

Again: 😦

Mental tantrum, deep breath, moving on. That’s all I can do. I’m here visiting a friend and fortunately, the hard part is over: I’ve already spent a few months down here before, drinking and not drinking; the point is, I know what the culture is like and I’m neither expecting to drink nor expecting it to be easy not to. AND, I’ve had FIVE WEEKS as of today to practice not drinking when I feel like I want to, with more than once hanging out at bars and not drinking. Sure, it sucks, and it takes focus, but it can be as much or more fun. Plus, you don’t get drunk and stupid, you don’t get drunk and sick, and you don’t have to deal with a hangover the next day.

Is it hard to not drink at bars, or on [beautiful island where I now live] (which, in essence, can feel like one island-sized bar)? Sure. I’ve wanted to drink since I got here two days ago. I mean, I feel the pull, the association of “vacation” with drinking, and then of “relaxation” or “break” (from daily grind) with drinking. However, I’m constantly rationalizing myself out of a drink anyway, so add a bar or an island-sized bar, and eh, it’s not that much different, is it? I’m always thinking about it, so here, it’s just a next-level challenge to which I have to apply that practice. Or rather, to which I have the opportunity to apply that practice. :/

Do I want a chilled glass of red wine right now? Hells yeah. Will the short-lived “buzz” (and now, I’m wondering, will the buzz be pleasurable or irritating? I’ve quit before, but not for this long, and even then, the buzz was sort of weird, I guess, after having not drunk for a few weeks…) be worth it? Nah. Not before, not during, not after. Sigh.

Still, it’s easy to get caught up focusing on the craving and not on the life around me, the astounding beauty of the island, the relative seclusion, the amazing view from my deck. The craving is so temporary, so fleeting, so…uninteresting, really, compared to the reality around me. And, quite frankly, the calm of being able to watch it stone-cold sober, remember it, and process the experience without it being tainted by booze or a hangover is seeming somewhat…the opposite of temporary. Timeless?

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