Accomplishing stuff


Saturday – Daily Weight 153.4

There’s nothing like a change in routine to throw a girl off track.

During the week, I am home alone most of the day working remotely. As such, there is a specific structure to my day.

  • Get up
  • Walk Dog
  • Or, if lazy, take dog into backyard and carry weight of guilt as bad pet parent
  • Find food
  • Clock in
  • Take break
  • Eat Lunch
  • Take break
  • Clock out
  • Repeat morning struggle re: walking the dog – fetch is just as good, right?
  • Find Food

On the weekends, though, most of that goes out the window. I try to take Enzo on extra-long walks on my days off to make up for the fairly short and not entirely consistent walks we take (or don’t) the rest of the time. However, the threat of Snowpocalypse 2019 kept me inside most of the day. We did go out and play in the snow a few times, but I was standing still mostly.

 

This was also the day Noom brought up the largest challenge currently; cravings

It was helpful to have the subject brought up, and Noom does so in typical cheeky style. I appreciate the utter lack of any judgment and  the can-do positivity of the message. When certain messages about sugar are framed as an “addiction” from which one needs to “detox” it can start to feel overwhelming, and the process seems much more intimidating. The friendly, low-key tactics Noom employs makes it much easier to imagine developing a healthier relationship with sugar and sweets. 

 

I also used the recipe tab for the first time to good effect. I had kinda gone overboard in the morning and needed something that wasn’t going to shove me way over my allotment for the day. I found a Thai Chicken salad that turned out to be very very tasty. Thanks Noom, for breaking my food-related decision fatigue!

Sunday: Daily weight 153.3

Sunday was a different kind of challenge. Until this point, I had skipped any kind of alcohol intake as a waste of precious calories. However, I had a ladydate scheduled, and didn’t want to be a party pooper. Also, the pedicure salon is 2 doors down from my favorite cheeseburger around.

So, for breakfast, I had a cheeseburger and a bloody Mary. It was delicious, but I knew that was encroaching on a huge chunk of my allowance for the day. On top of which, I also had a beer after the pedicure, just to be sociable.

Noom talks about these social triggers, and I can see this is one of my most problematic. I love going out to eat. Love it. I would eat out everyday if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive and calorically disastrous. So, when the occasion arises for socializing, it always seems natural to suggest a meal or cocktail as the context. I do sometimes make an effort to suggest something not related to consuming something, but that turns out to be pretty weather/cash flow dependent.

Today was the day Noom introduced the idea of activity tracking beyond just a step count. It now allows me to enter different kinds of exercise and adds 1/2 a calorie to my budget for every one burned. I think this is a super smart way to look at it, since in the past, I had a tendency to use working out as a free pass to fat ass. By only giving back 1/2 a calorie, I’m less likely to wipe out my efforts with extra food.

 

After surveying the damage from my morning, I realized I only had a few hundred calories left for the rest of my day. Luckily I continued to feel pretty full until about dinnertime, so I wasn’t tempted to eat any more. And holy wow, there is no green anywhere in that food wheely thing. Oops.

I did chores for 4.5 hours, and was able to log that as activity. I earned back about 215 calories that I promptly spent on a frozen pizza. My analysis for the day was deeply red. Even still, I kept to my calorie budget.

It helped a lot to keep a more informed eye on just how many calories I was taking in. Turns out most people vastly underestimate the number of calories in food and end up overeating as a result. I was able to decide I wanted the cheeseburger more than I wanted an extra meal, and then select my activity level and food intake accordingly thereafter.

Clearly, the answer is more chores…

I’ve had my job for six months now.

The Par-annual Question

Like any milestone, this fact has prompted a bout of reflection.

I love my job and I am happy in it; proud to work for an organization I respect with people I enjoy in a setting where I am supported and have room to grow. That being said, these months have been some of the most challenging of my life. Though I am unquestionably happy and pleased with the situation and trajectory I have created for myself, it is also true that I have been confronted by difficulties that would give even the most stalwart soul serious pause.

To wit; I have been sick for all of 2015 thusfar. What had been an intense but intermittent nuisance developed into an ever-present and all-consuming fact of life.  Something that once cropped up at intervals to smite me, with weeks long respite between, became a constant hardship which brooked no denial. Though I am theoretically on a course of treatment which should remediate my symptoms is a source of hope, but as yet my relief is still that; theoretical.

Couple that with taking on the most complex and multifaceted work I have ever done and I am forced to admit I am not feeling as confident, successful, or industrious as I would like. It is in part because I like what I am doing – and who I am doing it for – so much that I feel a powerful incentive to do better. I think I have a clear and credible sense of what I am capable of at my best, and I feel tremendous compunction that I have not yet been able to offer that unstinting effort to the task of this job.

I think my supervisor understands this; she says she does. She has been unfailingly patient and supportive – far beyond what I would have expected and I am deeply grateful for that fact. All that being said, I am impatient to start creating a tangible return on her good faith.

I can only hope 182 days from now, that I can reflect on this moment knowing I have done so and then some.

I started out no less than 5 times, over the course of the weekend, to run. I knew it would be a challenge – as it always is with the differing elevation and climate in Bend – but I was determined to get some miles under my feet nevertheless. Though the medication I am taking will inevitably make me puffy, I have decided I need not become soft, thereby. Moreover, training for the Blerch and a potential half-marathon in October, I know that running in varying conditions is both good for me generally and imperative to any race since I won’t have the luxury of meticulously curated route selection.

Previous attempts at running in central Oregon had not gone well. Even at times when I was in a good and stable pattern covering decent distances, as soon as I’d set out I’d be forcefully reminded that there is just more air in the air at sea level where I live than there is at 3625 ft. Usually about the middle of my first mile, I’d be stricken with the feeling that my lungs were like to simultaneously explode and collapse and I’d stutter to a halt, ashamed of the ill-founded confidence I’d developed running in Portland where the oxygen rich atmosphere makes a person soft and air greedy.

Couple this with the strong preference to run somewhere scenic which would on its face seem a small thing to ask; literally ringed with mountains, rivers and lakes as Bend is. Instead I was confronted with a surprisingly vexing scenario wherein I set out on what appeared to be a picturesque gently winding trail that would follow the river for miles, but was instead quickly dumped unceremoniously out on the street through neighborhoods I can only describe as “High-Desert-Ant-Farm-Chic”

This time I was armed with a route map for the Deschutes River Trail, and I thought with a clearly marked legend, I’d be able to plan my course such that I needn’t ever hit the street. More, I’d be able to get the lead out in the most scenic possible setting to forestall too much notice of my lungs fighting to extract as much oxygen from the scanty amount present in the air. Assured by my host the trail “totally flat” along the river, I felt that would increase my odds of getting in the extra-long run I was shooting for on Saturday. Having hosted guests, had my long run curtailed earlier in the week, and traveled the previous weekend as well, I was a bit behind on the self-imposed 20 miles a week quota. I knew I wouldn’t make the 12 I needed, but I figured 7 more miles to hit 15 for the week was perfectly reasonable.

Silly, silly me.

For you see, I didn’t realize how atrociously bad I am at reading maps. I started out driving 15 minutes in an attempt to start at the end of the trail that would give me what appeared to be the longest uninterrupted stretch off pavement. What I actually situated myself to do was to try to run north to the south end of the trail, and was totally baffled when the course simply came to a hard stop at the river bank. I ran the length of this section twice before I realized I’d been reading the map backwards.  So, that was a mile, total.

I tried at this point to just turn around and head north. A closer inspection of the legend made it clear that doing so would require me to run over paved roads and surface streets for more or less the entire distance I wanted to cover. Because I was reading the legend backwards, too; blue meant trail while green meant road. Took me about a mile to figure that out here, too.

I decided I needed to give up and start elsewhere. I drove back toward the other end of the trail, which I realized was the unpaved, river parallel portion I had been looking for all along. I got diverted in downtown (thanks Bite of Bend!) and ended up encountering another section of the trail in the meantime.  I thought I’d just start there instead. I was jumpy from having powered down a coffee and wanted to get my legs under me as soon as possible; the dithering was making me cranky. I started off lakeside, but only made it about a ½ mile before the end of park trail and was back out on the street. More or less insane with annoyance at this point, I got back in the car and made my way back over to a trailhead that once and for all seemed to be the starting point I had now spent over an hour trying to find, less than 5 minutes from the house.

Argh.

Determined to log some distance, particularly after all the false starts, I trotted off riverside. I was struggling for air, taking in noseeums with every gasping breath, and feeling fairly grumpy about the whole effort when I came around a curve and was confronted with what ended up being the death blow for this “run”; a decidedly not-flat section of trail. Sharp enough I could not clearly see the top of the hill, faced with its prospect, I simply turned on my heel and ran the other direction. Mark down a mile, on that attempt.

I figured, if I wanted to start the new week with the right number of miles, I’d have to mount the hill at some point. I reckoned if I tried it with fresh energy and expecting the climb, I’d be able to marshal the resources both physical and mental to make that happen. At this pass, I was beyond my ability to buck up and power through anything. I wanted hollandaise and a hug. Happily, I went back up the hill and was provided with both, before the morning was out.

Sunday, eyes open at just shy of 5 am I climbed out of bed and forced down the handful of Ritz that allow me to take my prednisone without incident. Guts gurgling in more than customary protest, I ignored their exhortations and before 5:30 I was at the trailhead lacing my shoes around my swollen feet trying to remember the last time I’d actually felt like I wanted to run. It had been only the previous Saturday, and I’d logged three runs in the meantime, so though I was disappointed not to be more excited about what is usually one of my favorite things to do, I was grimly satisfied at my perseverance in the face of a dearth of enthusiasm.

Even expecting it, rounding the corner to face the first hill, I was daunted by its pitch. It has become pretty apparent to me over time that what some people consider “flat” may not be in perfect alignment with my own definition of the term. This, however could in no way be construed as anything other than a climb. It was relatively short – no more than several dozen yards – but it was unquestionably steep.

I straggled my ass about halfway up at the best speed I could muster before I realized doing that might push my lungs past a threshold where they would be distressed enough I might struggle to complete the rest of the run. Resigned, I slowed to a trotting walk – which always feels like cheating, and blows my pace all to hell – and mounted the hill as quickly as I could shy of actually running.

Much to my chagrin, immediately thereafter was the other side of the hill and its concomitant downside slope. Turns out the trail climbs and descends again rather quickly to avoid a golf course built more or less right in its path. I was both annoyed that I’d had to make the detour and dismayed I’d have to work my way back up the opposite direction when I’d be considerably more tired. Boo.

Once past this initial obstacle the trail proved to be exactly what I would have asked for. I was surrounded by rimrock, clifftop river views, and vistas of the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Jefferson. I saw bunnies, squirrels, birds of all kinds, and at one point a trio of deer barreling down the path directly for me as they fled from a cyclist coming the other direction. Plenty of charm! Nothing but picturesque!

All The Scenery A Girl Could Want!

All The Scenery A Girl Could Want!

Finally at about mile 2.5 I hit my stride and began to enjoy the run itself. I knew I’d be able to get to my turnaround point feeling I’d allocated my energy such that the rest of the run would occur at a relatively stable pace, and I was feeling like I could relax into the process.

Then again, I saw something decidedly not flat.

Definitely. Definitely a hill. Yeah.

Definitely. Definitely a hill. Yeah.

To a cyclist, or even someone walking, this wouldn’t present much of a concern; such a short distance to cover! As a runner – and one who already struggles more than average with hills of any kind – it was profoundly sad-making. Cue another bout of shuffling semi-trot uphill.

Overall average pace having slowed to the neighborhood of a wounded buffalo, I just kept pressing on. I might not be getting there quickly, but I was going to cover the ground nevertheless. Back to grim determination, me.

At about 3.75 from my starting point, the trail ended out on pavement near the far end of the golf course that had thwarted me near the beginning. I started back calculating the reserves I’d need to deal with the handful of ups and downs I knew were in between, a mild interest in trying to reclaim some speed on the backside to make up for the slowdown on the out, and deciding how much a walk I should take at the end to wind down.

About a ¼ mile from my turn, I saw the first runner I’d encountered that morning. Considering it was even then only just past 6am I wasn’t too surprised to have the trail largely to myself. He offered a cheery “Good morning!” which I pantingly returned. This fella was moving a whole lot faster than I was and I noted with some amusement he’d be lapping me in no time at his current pace.

Sure enough a few short minutes later, I watched as he passed me going the same direction I was headed.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

And very quickly disappeared from view.

Good Afternoon & Good Night!

Good Afternoon & Good Night!

The backs of other people being the most common view I experience when I run, I found this fairly comforting. He got so far ahead of me I lost him entirely, but it’s still nice to know the members of the early morning running club are by and large a pretty friendly lot.

I didn’t end up gaining as much speed back on my return as I would have hoped and my overall pace – usually between 12:00-12:30 – plummeted to a dismal 13:46. That I could finish a run of that distance, at elevation at all had to be my only consolation. And it was. I was proud of my ability to complete an effort that had always been beyond my capacity before. It was gratifying to feel the difference between coming to a hard halt and pressing on through the resistance to do what I believed I could despite the added opposition.

Suck It Up Buttercup

Suck It Up Buttercup

And though I am not a girl who glitters instead of sweats, I was nevertheless flush with my accomplishment. Though you can’t read it here, my shirt says “Suck It Up Buttercup” I am pleased to say I did.

[tuh-pog-ruh-fee]

noun, plural topographies.

  1. The detailed mapping or charting of the features of a relatively small area, district, or locality.
  2. The detailed description, especially by means of surveying, of particular localities, as cities, towns, or estates.
  3. The relief features or surface configuration of an area.
  4. The features, relations, or configuration of a structural entity.
  5. A schema of a structural entity, as of the mind, a field of study, or society, reflecting a division into distinct areas having a specific relation or a specific position relative to one another.

“Document the world inside your skin.” The Decemberists

 

Accompanying my evident penchant for documenting the world upon my skin, I have decided it is the work of my life to explore and record my own interstices. I’ve been accused of being self-absorbed, and maybe it’s true, but as much as anything I see my existence as a longitudinal study geared toward reproducible results. The most desirable of these being happiness – or at least contentment – but ultimately a simple range of predictable outcomes given known stimuli would be a corollary most gratifying. If nothing else, a simple map to aid in navigation would be a great comfort, betimes.

Of course, the human experience-as-laboratory leaves much to be desired for precise interpretation of data or control of variables. It does not necessarily follow that more thorough review of evidence produces more accurate reckoning. The exhaustive and repeated tours of my internal landscape may only serve to inure me to the process of self-discovery; assuring myself the work is underway, rather than weighing outcomes to ensure progress has occurred. Would that I could line myself up using compass and key, and say;

“Now I am this close to self-awareness! What headway I have made! “

Those that claim hindsight is 20/20 are kidding themselves. Nostalgia, wishful thinking, and revisionist tendencies all conspire to blur that past. Recollection and memory cast time into binary relief; everything was harder, dimmer, and less clear or conversely left limned in light and perfected it in ways utterly infeasible. That we can view historical articles with such varying results given our own current locus speaks eloquently to its unsuitability as reliable data.

It is not then science that I do. I do not have instruments of such precision as the plumb bob, tape, or scope. Yet it is nevertheless a process which acknowledges a changing landscape, and replies to tectonic shifts. The atlas of my essence is still being drawn; the cartography of my soul still under survey…

[hahy-ey-tuh s]
noun, plural hiatuses, hiatus.
1. A break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
2. A missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
3. Any gap or opening.
4. Grammar, Prosody. the coming together, with or without break or slight pause, and without contraction, of two vowels in successive words or syllables, as in see easily.
5. Anatomy. a natural fissure, cleft, or foramen in a bone or other structure.

It seems to be an unintentional but reliable tendency of mine to periodically cease all efforts at creative output. The tides and vagaries of life being what they are, it is perhaps understandable, but considering I know self-expression to be high on the list of happiness-making items, I’ll admit to the occasional exasperated sigh heaved in my own direction in the face of a lapse in industry.

Distractions abound and certainly, it’s been an eventful year, but to have some more tangible record of all that passed in the last twelvemonth would be gratifying. Even if occasionally difficult, it would afford me the opportunity to review the time with a more objective eye. The material changes being only the most apparent products of events unfolded and played through, they are substantial. Internal conditions have undergone even more radical alteration; a veritable revolution, that.

So I stand on this shore, with previously unbeheld vistas to consider; the far landscape hinting of a familiar but departed past. At my feet a collection of belongings, intentions, and dreams I held dear enough to retain, some all newly acquired. Sunk into the sea over the horizon, a host of ways and means cast onto the water to sink away into darkness, having far outlived whatever usefulness it once demonstrated.
So all unburdened and newly equipped, I set out again, for the first time.

Shortly after I managed to begin putting on distance in my running, I decided that I wanted to complete a route that would take me past each bridge in Portland. I mapped the total distance out at around 12 miles and realized, I wasn’t that far short of being able to do it. I came close to setting out more than once, but fate and bad weather stopped me. Once it got hot enough to justify trips to the Waterfall Paradise, I was more interested in spending my days there and I proceeded to push it to the back burner.

It isn’t lack of ambition that keeps me from completing exotic routes more often, so much as it is the multitude of considerations and constraints my chosen cardiovascular hobby imposes.

Asthma

I am presented with several limitations running-wise, this is certainly the most pressing. It is aggravated with even moderate increases in heart rate and the medication that best controls this is both prohibitively expensive and causes me to lose my voice. I have learned to take steps which mitigate the worst of my day-to-day symptoms, but running puts a whole different kind of strain on my lungs.

Because of the way my lungs respond to exertion, running fast is more or less out of the question. It wasn’t until I trained myself to move in a slow steady lope that I was able to attain distances in excess of about a mile. Keeping my speed consistent and controlled is the only way I can manage a run of any meaningful length. This is complicated by the fact that even slight elevation changes are also problematic and will set off an attack. As such, any route with elevation change can only include an incline which is either very short or I must plan to take it at a walk.

Joint Problems

I’ve always been hyperflexible. Being bendy is fun for various reasons but also leaves me subject to the woes that accompany this trait (have you heard of anyone DISLOCATING THEIR PELVIS? Well, now you have). I have achy knees, wonky hips, and of late, a screwed up shoulder. These clicks and pains are mitigated, though not solved, by various voodoo taping techniques. But regardless of how much tape of any kind and color combination I may try, there are a finite number of times I can strike the earth with all my body weight and forward momentum before I can feel my joints grinding together to punish me for my hubris.

I have determined through experimentation and experience that this finite number is about 16,000. Once I exceed that, I am in pain; varying degrees – to be sure – depending on how long it has been since my last run, how much stretching I have done, and whether or not I was wise enough to take some ibuprofen beforehand, but pain that will limit my capacity to carry on regardless.

Delicate Flowerhood

I am very heat intolerant and become both nauseous and light-headed if I exert myself in temperatures exceeding about 70 degrees. This means running during the day in nice weather can present a blurk-inducing conflict of interest between enjoying pleasant outdoor weather and not being able to do so whilst I am seized by the overpowering need to vomit.

Thus, my ideal running conditions are:

  • Speed – Slow to Moderate
  • Terrain – Flat and Paved*
  • Temperature – between 45°-70°

 

This is not impossible to locate, but becomes incredibly boring after 60-70 repetitions. So, I push myself beyond the ideal, and I am usually glad I did.

I thought the day would stay cooler, and determined to fulfill my bridge run fantasy before fall set in. I had long since considered that starting at the St Johns bridge meant the run would be largely downhill to get to the Sellwood rather than running the opposite. The issue then became transportation. I knew I could park my car at Sellwood and either get a ride or take the bus to St. Johns, but because I am both a masochist and a moron, I instead told myself that riding my bicycle the 13 miles uphill would be a great way to be sure I was warmed up for the run back.

Ahem.

Bridge #1: The St. Johns

This is my favorite bridge in Portland. It is graceful, and lovely, both in setting and form. It also reminds me of Batman. Which is just awesome. At this point, I was feeling pretty good; flushed and warm, stretched out and eager to get running.

Bridge #2: The Freemont

I’ve always been fond of the urban-fantasy-curvyness of this freeway. The pillars on the east bound deck look like dominoes to me, and the arch is iconic and appealing. It is also my favorite stop on the bridge pedal.

Bridge #3: The Broadway

I remember when this bridge was brown. I think it looks handsomer, red. The Albers Mill at the west end of the bridge always captures my attention as I cross, because my paternal grandfather was the child model in the ad, back in the day. He was also featured in Modern Maturity in an article about the Mazamas because he was still climbing mountains in his 70’s. He was an inspiration, despite his weird chagrin over his given name being Marion. He liked to point out if John Wayne wasn’t man enough to carry it off, he sure as hell wasn’t going to try.

Bridge #4: The Steel

I run across this thing 3-4 times a week, and I never like it any better. It looks and feels rickety to me. It has the distinction of being the SECOND oldest lift-span drawbridge in use,  and the only double-deck bridge with independent lifts in the world but I think lift-span bridges are nowhere near as charming as the tippy ones. Also, when the trains roll across it is so freaking loud my head is like to splode.

Bridge #5: The Burnside

This one is tippy. It also has operator towers that look like a castle turret. It is also the bridge I personally use the most getting back and forth across town. It affords me a nice view of the White Stag/Made In Oregon/Portland, Oregon sign and of the west hills in general. I am also most pleased with the way this photo turned out.

Bridge #6: The Morrison

I don’t even really have words. I mean, blurring this photo was a huge improvement over how this bridge actually looks. I guess it’s okay when they shine all the different colored lights on it. And, thank god, they finally laid dowh some pavement. Cause, you know, in a place where it rains once in a while it was apparently impossible to predict that a metal span might become SLICK AS LUKEWARM SNOT whenever it got wet.

Bridge #7: The Hawthorne

This bridge used to be a different color, too, but I don’t remember what it was. Another lift span, it remains more charming to me than the Steel, though I couldn’t give you a sound reason why… perhaps it is because, as Mike pedantically pointed out, it is the OLDEST lift span bridge in operation.  It was about this point in my run that the “running” got a whole lot slower. 

 Bridge #8: The Marquam

Another freeway bridge. Utterly lacking the charm of its northern neighbor. Does offer a lovely view of downtown – basically only enjoyable during its frequently intolerably slow afternoon traffic. This always seems like the bridge that’d collapse first a-la the Bay Bridge when the giant earthquake we’ve all heard about finally smites us.

Bridge #9: The Ross Island

Is the gravel quarry named for the island or vice versa? Either way, it seems a rather uninspired combination of terms. This bridge is so tall it doesn’t need to be tippy OR lifty. The area beneath is has been transformed from a wasteland of post-industrial urban blight to a wasteland of post-industrial mod chic tower housing and overtly horizontally oriented pointy places of unclear provenance. It is much nicer to run past, now. Or, lurchingly hobble past, as the case may be.

Bridge #10: The Sellwood

 For most of my life, I have crossed this bridge with trepidation bordering on terror. Virtually every crossing was accompanied by an elaborate fantasy wherein, as I navigate its rickety heights, it finally succumbs to years of hard use and bad engineering to tumble me screaming headlong into the Willamette and I must use all my wiles to escape my plummeting car. Which I know damn well I wouldn’t and so thus envision my watery demise. I’m real glad they’re fixing it.

But not as glad as I was to see the end of this journey. After 26 human powered miles, I needed a sandwich and a sit down. Oof. 

*Other surfaces are kinder to joints but require greater exertion.

 

My Activity Totals

Total mi

609

Total Activities

101

Total Calories

52,217

 

Every so often, Runkeeper sends me a little status update about my efforts. A while back i got a note that said I’d covered 500 miles. I was pretty pleased with myself.

This morning as I was rounding the esplanade, I was marveling that I have been running more or less consistently (illness and injuries notwithstanding) for over 7 months now. A little later, I got an email from Runkeeper saying I had logged my 100th activity. I’m not always super great about follow through, so this was a nice reminder that there are things I can stick to, no matter what.

There are some definite rewards in the 5am run…

 

 

This hexagram describes your situation in terms of rising to a higher level, It emphasizes that setting a [loftier] goal and working toward it step by step is the adequate way to handle it. To be in accord with the time you are told to ascend!

I-Ching (Ritsema & Karcher)  

 

At times when I am set a-tilt, I often turn to oracle for advice, wisdom, and direction. My first step is usually to settle myself at my altar and pull a tarot card or two. Though it is always comforting, I am occasionally too distracted, overwrought, or invested in hoping for a particular outcome to absorb the lesson it tries to convey. When I remain stymied, I call upon the I-Ching for clarification.

Somehow the hexagram always shines truth with absolute clarity where the tarot can be shrouded in layers of meaning not always readily apparent; the I-Ching demands very little to be understood, and the cards claim more attention for greater reward. Each method carries its unique benefits and detriments, so using them situationally, and in concert seems to yield the best results. 

And it seems, at this time, I am meant to exceed my own expectations; to strive for more than I have asked of or for myself. A weighty admonition, but one I finally feel strong enough to bear. 

Onward, and upward

“How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start, when memory plays an old tune on the heart!” 
― Eliza Cook

 

We enter this life as creatures infinitely adaptable. Born unto uncertain fate, we must win the devotion of those around us in order that we may survive. When we succeed, to whatever extent we do, we codify the process by which this was achieved; it becomes The Writ Of Love. For better, or worse.

I recently sat across a very short space and an even briefer acquaintance from someone who, in response to an offhand remark said knowingly,

“Ah. So, your picker is broken.”

I was taken aback by this pronouncement, and instinctively rose to defend myself, but upon swift reflection realized that insofar as the person who said it was concerned, it was true enough not to bother.

Yet regardless of the veracity of the assertion, its implication got under my skin; that I am somehow fundamentally incapable of selecting a good partner for myself. Clearly, if history is any guide, my track record is pretty lousy – but this can be said of virtually  anyone  who isn’t currently happily partnered.

I have been devoted to the considerable work of tending to myself for the first time in my life and I have made such progress as to render myself nearly unrecognizably happy and content. So then, I bridle at the prospect that any  part of me is broken.

Instead I can approach myself with compassionate understanding that my template, formed a lifetime ago, was based on a love attained only through absolute prescient submission to will and whim alike.  

And while I can intellectually encounter this information with full realization of its incapacity to nurture a healthy, supportive, reciprocal love, I cannot yet divest myself of the emotional responses inherent to that model. 

Which means I both attract and am attracted to, bullies.

Not the best news, ever.

If I internalize this information,  I begin to extrapolate on the theme and wonder if the very fact I am attracted to someone condemns them to being a terrible choice for me as a partner.

This troubles me mostly because this would, in some respect, require me to be omniscient; and as much as I think of myself, I have never really gone so far as to embrace that particular conceit. 

Attraction, in my experience is binary, instant, and irreversible. By which I mean to say, I am attracted to someone before they ever open their mouth. And no action, words, or deeds of theirs seems to change this response. Thus, I am drawn to them before they have a chance to demonstrate they are a bully.

Yet almost without exception (there really is just the one) it has proven to be true. How then, can I tell? Is it as I frequently claim, all in how they smell? Is there a hormone which expresses a demanding sense of emotional entitlement? A pheromone for bully? 

And if all this is so, how can I hope to edit this most profound and hard-wired inclination? How do I make congruent all that I desire with all that will serve to create the most nurturing and complimentary love?

Modern medicine is coming awake to the realization that sometimes, people are sad, or sick, because the wrong kind of things live inside of them; ideas, certainly, but also critters. Gut bacteria are the greatest arbiter of our ability to properly maintain a correct neurochemical balance, digest and absorb essential nutrients. What if the circumstances of childhood  – stress, access to daylight, proper nutrition – dictate what can survive inside of us?

The microorganisms that live in our bellies and on our skin, create the scent that surrounds us. What if in those early years, the only encounters with tenderness I was exposed to suffused the air with chemicals that cried submit  and yield. And this, as my template, literally flavored my experience of love for the rest of my life heretofore? What if all that could endure my internal landscape were those beasts who can withstand terror, tolerate constant worry, and survive total dominance?

Then I am left with a rather more practical consideration; how do I influence myself now, to thrive on peace, crave support, and yearn for equity? To create the change both conscious and chemical?

I believe the good work of shedding that which does not serve me is well underway.  The effort of creating in me conditions which will nurture such change. In so doing I can only hope to welcome near that which will crave only what serves me best.

Perhaps a transplant is in order…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who wants to arm wrestle?

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