Categories
Emotional Work

Day 643 and Courage

My courage is uneven at the moment. I have a specific professional project that I am struggling to push myself on. I tell myself that it is something I want, but if the truism “having is evidence of wanting” is any indication, I am struggling to convince myself I really want it. Except I am fairly sure I do want it and I’m just scared.

I used to love it when people said no to me. I was the kind of “chip on my shoulder” young person that used a no to fuel myself. “I’ll show them” was somewhere between a mantra and a battle cry.

But now I find myself anxious to publicly go out and see just how many people will say no. I don’t know if I find it as motivating as I used to. I tell myself I don’t mind but perhaps some other unexamined element of reaction makes me afraid.

This could all be an elaborate ego protection ruse on my part. Maybe I still love the motivation that comes from no. Maybe I hate it. But I have not really done enough fucking around to find out yet to know one way or other.

My gut instinct is to simply declare in public my goals and a timeline to force myself into it. But then I’ve been working through my tendency to rely on willpower and force to motivate myself. Perhaps a big forcing function will simply send me back into my old coping mechanisms of addictive overwork.

I’ve always punished myself by doing things. If I am anxious I almost always find ways to kick a hornet’s nest to force an action rather than gentle build momentum.

Whatever I do I would prefer I do it with as much gentleness and respect for my inner child as possible. I am prone to abusing my inner child’s feelings by disregarding her fear or her desire to keep distance from the rest of the world. I deserve better than forcing misery onto my inner child.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 642 and Feast

WARNING: I am discussing food and my relationship to food for anyone that has any triggers around food, eating disorders, or disordered eating.

I accidentally didn’t eat anything of substance today. I had some coffee and a banana so just enough to break my fast but not quite so much that I had a meal. The weekend was packed with meals in huge portions due to slightly more socializing and being out of the house than was wise. I really felt it yesterday as we had two very hearty meals planned and I managed to eat maybe a quarter of it.

I have always been a bit of a feast or famine type. Some of this is probably related to some childhood incidents. I’d much rather eat as much as I’d like and then fast for a day or so. I like the feeling of choice and control.

Some of worst parts of having to combat an autoimmune disorder is sometimes being put on medications that need to be taken with food. I hate when any outside force interferes with my body. Even medication.

I also happen to buy into the research that fasting is a a generally positive force for good health. The intuitive notion that we evolved for feast or famine is slowly being proven out. Every major world religion incorporating fast as a component also reassures. Nothing is more lindy than fasting.

But as I come to the end of my day it is probably time to eat a proper meal. My stomach is rumbling. I can feel my focus faltering. I don’t have much of an appetite but I will need to find the middle ground between feast and famine today.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 641 and Recovery

This might sound a little shocking but I sleep at least 9 hours a night. Sleep is one of the obsessions of the biohacker. If I’m lucky I might be able to get to ten. It’s always a sign of me doing poorly if I am not sleeping a TON.

It’s usually the first sign I am not adequately reserving time to bring down my central nervous system into rest and digest. I’ll stay up till 11pm and then it’s a hop skip and a jump to only sleeping seven hours.

The best combination of effort and exertion for me is only adding in specific necessary stressors during the day and give ample time to recovery. Much of my work requires focus and information processing and synthesis. And that isn’t improved by overwork and exhaustion.

Nevertheless I am still carting around a lot of lessons from my childhood about the value of hard work. More is better. More hours is best. And this is a fine and noble thing if you do work intelligently with your goals in mind. Simple exertion is sometimes the best option. But not always.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 640 and Weekend

Maybe it’s a function of having never owned a home before we bought the Montana homestead, but I was never much of a weekend errands person.

Now my weekends are all about errands. It started with doing a weekly grocery run. Now that groceries aren’t just being delivered to us demand by Whole Foods (the closest one is probably a thousand miles away) we’ve got a standing Sunday drive into town to the food coop. We do actual meal planning now.

And if you give a mouse a cookie he’s going to want some milk. If you give a yuppie a drive into town…We just keep tacking errands onto the drive into town. To do list and errands are the milk to the cookie of the drive into town.

We are still in the process of settling in to our house, so naturally Home Depot is heavy in our errands rotation. Today it was floor lamps and scones for the guest rooms. Last week it was a new pump for our hydroponic system. We basically always have something that requires a Home Depot Run.

We also needed a few other sundry items for our elaborate hospitality driven guest room project. We want our friends and family to feel comfortable coming to stay with us so we have dedicated quite a bit of time and resources into designing and planning for turning our upstairs into a hotel. This is going to be ongoing for sometime as furniture is a pain in the ass these days.

To check off design and toiletry items we hit up World Market and then Ulta. We came away remembering that shopping used to be a fun browsable experience and also a little poorer as we picked up an entire screen printed photo canvas we didn’t intend on buying but kind of love. We also got a very nice set up of brushes, anti-frizz hair turbans, and makeup remover towels for the guest bath.

A bathroom cabinet with hair towels, hair dryer, a round brush and a flat brush.
Categories
Community

Day 639 and Act Local

I grew up in a hippie college town that was fond of bumper sticker activism. Showing off your sense of humor and your political priorities was a fun thing to do with your Subaru Outback in the late nineties and early aughts before Facebook and the rise of social media.

A classic of the genre was “Think Global, Act Local.” I found this example on Etsy. And no I’ve got no idea what charity it ties back into.

Think Globally, Act Locally Bumpersticker

Maybe it was just less cringe to have this sort of thing on your car before we all spent half of our days yelling at strangers on the internet. I personally remember thinking Visualize Whirled Peas (a band from Austin) was a hilarious way to protest American war mongering as a teen. Of course, I still wrote Amnesty International letters at the time.

Now I’m not even sure who to donate money to at the end of the year as institutional trust continues to break down. Thinking globally is often the source of much anxiety. Currency collapses and the threat of nuclear war from Russia might be throw backs, but doomscrolling and feeling helpless is too modern. What is old is new again but in more potent anxiety inducing form.

So it was a bit of a relief to enjoy the “act locally” part of the classic bumper sticker this morning. Our local volunteer fire department had a pancake breakfast. Now as an adult my husband and I live outside of a completely different college town in the wider surrounding Gallatin Valley.

The rural (as opposed to city) county fire departments operate with a lot of local good will. They have a professionally trained but all volunteer force and cooperate with other districts through mutual aid frameworks. Practically, that meant a lot of college students taking advantage of living at the fire station to offset their costs while deepening ties to the community. A pretty ideal set up for a tight knit rural community. We get talent and they get skills and housing during their college years.

But calling them volunteers makes it sound less professionally run than the reality. I was impressed with not only the depth of knowledge of the entire department but also just how well maintained all of the equipment clearly was. Sure they probably cleaned stuff before letting their neighbors come in for a visit but everything was so shiny and new. I came away feeling a lot more secure about making a 911 call.

Now maybe that’s just function of meeting the fire chief and chatting with EMTS. And that’s probably exactly why they host these pancake breakfasts. But after two hours of touring equipment, and talking to everyone from the Medivac helicopter pilot to the youngest college kid on the squad, I felt like this was a team that has its shit together.

Now I’m actually excited to vote for a bond issue to get another fire truck or two! But in the meantime we dropped a few twenties into the boot on the table.

Pancakes and a fire boot for donations to the county fire department.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 638 and Environment

We’ve had an unseasonably warm week in the Gallatin Valley. We pulled out our two air conditioners from the window installations and went to Costco to install our snow tires. Both activities felt a little bit ridiculous as the temperatures touched 80 degrees.

But finally this morning the last bits of summer felt like they might be behind us. We had a beautiful warm sunny evening last night and yet we woke up to clouds and a damp chill. I was relieved if I’m honest.

Almost overnight our cottonwood trees began to turn to pleasant yellows. The aspen groves showed some signs of change as well. When I went for a walk yesterday beyond the property line I spotted apple trees with maturing fruit. I had only been gone a week from my usual walking route and was surprised to see so much progress into fall happening what felt like overnight.

An apple tree alongside one of our country roads beginning to show fruit.

With temperatures safely back into the 40s and 50s, it felt like it was time to unpack some of our winter clothing. I spent some of this morning sorting through sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves.

It was dusty enough inside the the moving boxes I started to break out with a few itchy patches of red inflamed skin. I took a Benadryl and hoped a cup of coffee would overcome the anti-histamine’s fatigue.

The environment around me is tugging on my body and it’s control systems. But I’m grateful for the change even, if some of the required activities have brought up the stress of change. I love fall. I love the cold. I’m a big fan of winter too. And I’m excited to see where this weather takes us. Call me crazy but I can’t wait for my first winter in Montana.

Categories
Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 636 and Waves

Yesterday I was on top of a wave of positivity, so naturally this means today I was prepared for that wave to crash. The rhythms of both life, and my body, must accommodate the full range of highs and lows. After several intense days of work and activity I spent my day reading and absorbing news and financial reports in bed.

I am becoming modestly less indignant about having to monitor and meter my energy carefully. This is a new development in some ways as I’ve struggled quite publicly with mixed feelings about accounting for fatigue and pain in my workflows. I have in the past easily fallen into envy and jealousy when I see how much able bodied friends give little thought to their physical realities.

I have slowly let go of negativity around around around my body and come to embrace the rhythms of requiring rest. I’ve even come to see it as a strength as being forced into mitigating stress loads and cortisol spikes means I have more control over my sympathetic nervous system. Rather than give in to fight or flight, I am able now to able to choose how I respond.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 635 and Wide Horizons

I am absolutely wiped at the moment as I rode a wave of enthusiasm all day. I felt focused, energetic and free of self doubt. I felt like my life was open to possibility.

Perhaps it’s the regular reminders of personal responsibility I get in therapy. Perhaps it’s it’s the sense of accomplishment I got from completing my wilderness medical incident certification last week. The case of the Yips that I felt a few days ago is swiftly resolving.

The strength in my marriage with Alex has always been our commitment to working through our emotional journeys together. He was able to be reassuring my through slow climb back from the depths of my health challenges. He helped me turn it into a source of strength. Next year will be ten years together and Alex really got the “in sickness” portion of the vows a little earlier than anticipated.

This is the first time in both of our lives we’ve ever truly been stable. And that’s a strange thought. That our lives have been so chaotic for so long. We finally have money and a home we own and good health and it’s all at the same time. All of the instability of startups and limited resources and bad health are over. And only really in the last six or seven weeks has that been true. As we just finally bought our first home. We moved to Montana in August.

We climbed through the aftermath of the Great Recession together, made our first angel investments together, raised venture capital together, and now finally thanks to the pandemic we’ve been able to secure a place to live and a wide horizon to plan how to use our resources and time. I am responsible for talking this blessing and letting it provide the foundation for our long term goals. Millennials might just accelerate in middle age just yet! I know it feels like I am.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 634 and Responsibility

The best part of committing to therapy and emotional work is taking responsibility for your feelings. This is also the worst part of doing any kind of emotional growth. I suppose this is how you know therapy is a worthwhile use of your time.

Emotional work has a bit of the “wherever you go, there you are” tension of acceptance. I’ve also come to appreciate the truism that having is evidence of wanting. We are always living exactly the lives we want. Attachment and delusions and self limiting beliefs are all part of the way we protect our ego.

I’ve got a lot of my identity wrapped up in my coping mechanisms. I’m sure this is quite relatable to many people. If you are willing to be a vulnerable you start to see just how many habits and behaviors are built to protect yourself.

For me I have found comfort in overworking. If I crash and fail I protect my ego by saying little stories like I’m fragile or have high standards or whatever else seems acceptable. When of course, I could have simply made different choices to accommodate my physical state or the expectations I had for quality.

But accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my strengths and weaknesses in equal remains elusive. Personal enlightenment is a minute by minute experience. Ego destruction isn’t easy.

I try to remind myself that any traumas I may have experienced that enabled the development of these coping mechanisms are in the past. I am now the parent to my inner child. And no one is responsible for her happiness but me.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 633 and Hospitality

One of the things my husband Alex and I were most excited by when we bought our homestead in Montana is inviting our friends and family to stay with us. We have an entire floor of the house dedicated to guests and have plans to turn part of our barn into a separate guest house as well.

We’ve begun the process of designing and furnishing our guest floor. We have two rooms, a bathroom and a separate living room. The furniture is slowing turning up. Which means it is time to work on the details of making it as comfortable and hospitable as possible. Naturally we asked Twitter to weigh in on what makes people feel at home in someone else’s house. And you did not disappoint.

Toiletries

Traveling with full toiletries and skincare can be a challenge especially when flying. Here is a list of the most requested grooming items and toiletries

  • Hairdryer
  • Roundbrush & Styling Tools
  • Shampoo & Conditioner & Body Wash
  • Lotion & Body Moisturizer
  • Skincare Basics (SPF, Face Creams)
  • Skincare single use masks for face & under eye bags
  • Dental Care (Brush, Paste, Floss)
  • Small Individually Wrapped Soap
  • Q-Tips & Cotton Rounds
  • Tampons & Pads
  • Tissues
  • Bandaids & Pimple Patches
  • First Aid Items (Headache, Allergy)

Bathroom Comfort

Grooming items isn’t the only thing that you need in the bathroom. Personal hygiene requires some thought.

  • Trash Bin
  • Dark Towel for Makeup Removal
  • Plenty of Extra Bath Towels
  • Wash Cloths
  • Hair Towel & Turban
  • Extra Towel Hooks
  • Plunger & Brush
  • Bidet and Squatty Potty
  • Septic Care Sign
  • Cleaning Items
  • Extra Toilet Paper
  • Tissues
  • Poo-pouri or matches to mask smells

Organization

Keeping your personal items from overflowing can help make a guest room feel more comfortable. Remember power strips & plugs! Some of the most requested items include:

  • Pens & Notepad & Scissors
  • Desk Power Station
  • Bedside Power and USB
  • Hangers (including pant & skirt)
  • Trays/Landing Zones for small items
  • Coat Hook
  • Dresser & Closet Space
  • Full Length Mirror

Bedding and Sleeping

Getting a good night sleep in a new place can be very challenging. Providing for your guest’s sleep and relaxing needs was a top request.

  • Extra Pillows
  • Hypoallergenic Options
  • Duvet Cover
  • Robes & Slippers
  • Dirty Clothing Bins & Laundry
  • Dimmer & Good Bedroom Lighting (not too bright, preferably lamps)
  • Books & Reading Materials
  • Nightstand Space (w/ power & USB strips)
  • Eye Masks & Earplugs (ideally also blackout curtains)
  • Water Glasses & Jugs
  • Wifi QR Codes
  • Speakers or White Noise Machine

Other requests including desks and working areas. Our current plans are to have adjustable standing desks and ergonomic work chairs in each bedroom. Plenty of landing spaces and areas to keep your items visible but not cluttered (including luggage stands) is also commonly requested. Separate sitting, sleeping and working areas is best. Also a surprisingly large number of people suggested a white board. So clearly our friends like to brainstorm on the road. External monitors and keyboard were also mentioned.

We have plans to write a basic FAQ document that includes things how the house works. We will include details on water filtration (we have an expensive filtering system so you can drink from any tap in the house), where food is kept and expectations on hours and interaction. Also details on things like heating and cooling are crucial for comfort. People should be able to maintain their ideal temperatures for sleeping and working.

We are also planning to outfit the guest common areas (private to guests and separate from the house common areas) with a mini-fridge stocked with favorite beverages and snacks. Having a coffee maker and tea service was a popular request as well. We are also considering extra boots and outdoor gear for city guests that do not have country gear or simply cannot travel with Wellingtons and barn coats.

Another huge area of interest was maintaining health and fitness. We have a full gym including squat rack, pull up bar, treadmill and a Pilates reformer along with mats for stretching and yoga. We’ve got a Theragun, medicine balls & foam rollers. I am also keen to have supplements for basics to keep your immune system happy like Vitamin D, C and Zinc. We also have a hot tub and have plans for an infrared sauna (might even include a cold plunge).

If you’ve got hospitality suggestions we’d love to hear them. And of course if you are one of our many virtual friends we’d be delighted if you’d consider becoming an “IRL” or in-real-life friend by coming to visit us. We are booked through October but would be thrilled to have you come for ski season!