Posts Tagged ‘self-care’

Yesterday was not a great day.

To start with, I was grumpy. Very grumpy.

We’ve been renovating and redecorating for a few months, and yesterday I began to feel a tad overwhelmed not only by what is still left to do, but by the toll it’s taken on my sixty-plus-year-old body. In short, while I’m used to aches and pains, I’m not used to being so tired at the end of the day that I’m thinking about going to bed at 8PM.

So that was my baseline going into things.

Then came work, where I’ve been in a holding pattern for a few days, waiting for analysts to provide answers to specific questions regarding the solutions I’m supposed to be crafting for them. Well, I got some answers, all right. The first answer was to a question I hadn’t asked, but it’s an answer I’ve long suspected. The answer was, “No, we really don’t read your emails.” The second answer was also to a question I hadn’t asked, because (as mentioned), they really don’t read my emails. Ditto, the third answer.

Waiting three days for an answer to a specific question is frustrating enough. Waiting three days and getting answers that are totally irrelevant to the questions posed, well, that pushes my frustration coefficient to 11.

To keep myself from lashing out, I needed a distraction, so I turned to something totally unrelated, something as far from programs and coding and specifications and analysis as possible.

I decided to reorganize my collection of British coins.

I could have chosen any number of other activities—weeding the garden, working a crossword puzzle, rearranging my office (again)—just as long as it engaged my hands and my brain sufficiently to keep me preoccupied and kept me from delivering mayhem to a few certain someones. Reorganizing my coins was the perfect choice.

My collection of British coins is modest and limited. Nothing too old. Nothing made of gold. Just coins that regular folk used in their daily lives, coins I’ve collected over the decades, either on a whim or because my interest was reignited. They range from Victoria (1836) to Elizabeth II (pre-decimal, 1971)—okay, there is one sixpence from the reign of Elizabeth I (1573), but that’s an outlier—in denominations from farthings to crowns (1/4 d to 5s, for you LSD afficionados; you know who you are). 

I won’t pretend otherwise: it is an extremely nerdy activity. On the nerdiness scale, it’s right there next to stamp collecting (though whether it’s on the nerdier or less-nerdy side, I couldn’t possibly say). It’s the kind of thing where you’d expect me to be wearing tweed, smoking a pipe, sitting in a room lit by a single lamp, surrounded by dark wood bookshelves, and holding a massive magnifier. And you wouldn’t be far off.

But it does consume a great deal of brain activity, and yesterday, that’s precisely what I needed: to be distracted.

So, I fiddled and examined, sorted and re-sorted. Should I organize by denomination or by monarch? Ascending or descending? Is this coin really in XF condition, or is it merely VF? 

Pressing, important issues.

Issues so much more important than screaming “Read the damned email, why don’t you!?” or reiterating for the third time the question I’ve been asking for days.

And it worked. My blood pressure went down. No one was injured.

Sure, I was still grumpy (and sore, and tired), but at least I wasn’t making plans to nuke my co-workers anymore.

I’ll take a small victory over none at all.


PS. In the end, I went with: by denomination, ascending, and merely VF.

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I’ve had my time on stage: as a musician in large groups, as a conductor, as a soloist. Thankfully, most of my performances received applause and appreciation, but I’ve had my share of jeers, sniggers, and marks low as well as high.

The greatest accolade, however, the most palpable roar of approval ever sent my way, came the day I was wearing a tutu.

It was a lesson in adaptability, a case of accepting the inevitable and changing plans.


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Occasionally, the tyranny of social and news media becomes too much for me to handle.

About ten days ago, I reached my limit, full up to here with the naïveté of the left, the mendacity of the right, the fear-mongering of the media, and the narcissistic selfishness of humanity in general.

I needed a break. From damned near everything. (more…)

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For most of my life, if I was awake, I had a book in my hand.

Riding the bus, walking to school, in the quad between classes, lounging at home, I’d have a book open, thumb in the crease, my nose buried in its leaves. Novels, anthologies, treatises, memoirs, history, science, poetry.



I read it.

Then, about a dozen years ago, life went off the rails. Book deals dried up. Friends and family began to die (at least ten during this period). We fostered a young woman, giving her a place to live for a year. Work became a stress factory. The economy tanked, causing the Great Recession. Then along came Trump. And then this pandemic.

In response, my reading habits changed, radically. They became constrained, limited to news articles, political analyses, and works of non-fiction. Instead of a dog-eared book, I carried my tablet with its instant-on, 24×7 access to current events and a front-row seat to our increasingly divided society.

Even so, every now and again, I would return to my fiction books, the stacks of TBR novels that inhabit every room in this house. I tried, repeatedly, to read one of them, hungry for that immersive experience, that miraculous wash of words that would sweep away reality and bathe me in the light of a different sun.

But the miracle never came. I didn’t have the patience, lacked the power to focus., and was unable to drive away the here-and-now with worlds of what-if. Book after book I picked up, opened, began, and abandoned within a few days, the only evidence of my attempt, a bookmark left somewhere in the first thirty pages.

With all this as preamble, one might wonder why, during my recent time off, I decided yet again to pick up a novel and give it a try. I mean, there I was in the last month of the most turbulent election cycle of my sixty-plus years, with a pandemic raging beyond my door, a daily gush of political scandals and turmoil filling the airwaves, and everywhere people shouting and crying and grieving and protesting. Was it hope? Obstinacy? Desperation? Whatever compelled me, it was in this moment, amid this maelstrom of chaos, that I chose to try again, and opened up a 150-year-old book.

And I read it. Cover to cover, in record time.

And then . . . I picked up another book, and read it, too.

And now, here I am, wondering what to read next.

. . .

Do yourself a favor.

Turn off the television. Put down the phone. Leave the tablet in the other room.

Pick up a book. A real book. The one you’ve been meaning to read for so long.

Take a seat near the window, where the natural light will be over your shoulder. Settle in, book in hand.

Open it up. Stick your nose in it. Smell it. Feel the pebbled surface of the printed page, the tension of the spine.

Chapter One.


I tell you, it’s like coming home.


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I’m avoiding pretty much all topics today because, to be honest, if I allow myself to start in on what I see around me, I’m liable to just go off, and it’d be hard for me to stop. In fact, I have about five posts in my Drafts folder that I will never publish, long screeds filled with passion, rants on topics of which I’m sure you’ve already had a bellyful, and of which you do not need another helping.

So, instead of holding forth, I’m turning it around . . . Howzit goin’?

Seriously. How is it going with you? Are you in a location without restrictions, or like me, in hard lockdown? What’s the mood, where you are? If you’re self-isolating, what have you noticed about your routines, your family, your time? Feel free to share down in the comments. (more…)

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It’s been a bad week.

It started off with having to endure some seriously obnoxious behavior, after which I got dog-piled by a medical issue†, which in turn required a visit to the doc (I really dislike going to see the doc), during which visit I got a flu shot (two birds, one stone, and all that), which naturally made me feel kinda punk the next day, all of which eroded my (admittedly paltry) reserves of patience, which naturally made even the smallest annoyance loom large in my damaged psyche. And that doesn’t even take into account the constant firehose of bad news from the political world.

Upshot: I’m pretty much done with people for a while. (more…)

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