all posts, mental health, miscellaneous

odd directions

I have a lot of weird stuff going on. It feels like ever since I fell off the beaten path, when my skin mutinied and declined to acquiesce to my request of behaving like normal dermal tissue, I fell down my own personal rabbit hole of weirdness and have just been grabbing hold of oddities on my way down.

If someone were to sit me down and be like, so what are you up to these days (and have time for a long-winded answer) this is probably what I would say:

Well -insert name of person inquiring here- , I spend a lot of time overthinking everything. But primarily I spend the majority of my time hanging with my delightful Figlet, witnessing her grow and become her own person, and trying to make sure I don’t fuck that up too much.

I spend a lot of time trying to learn things, lots of things, that I think add to my life in fun and important ways (more on that in a moment), and as a result I spend a lot of time trying to figure out when to read. I wile away the hours trying to figure out when and how to take care of my ever changing body, when to workout, when to drink water, what and when to eat, when to have other self-care items thrown in there. I’m not really good at that yet, but I’m working on it.

Now back to those things I am trying to learn. Well I am trying to learn about death, how it looks in our society, in the world, why we find it so scary, how it is monetized, how it is supported, how it is prevented, how it is avoided. I try to understand my own experiences with death and work to find my own way with it hopefully before it is my time.

In a related subset, trying to learn about being a mom and my own body/mortality has me studying postpartum care, breastfeeding, etc to understand what is happening to me, what dictates the decisions mothers make around their postpartum period. Does it give me all the answers? No, but I don’t think anything ever will. So basically it helps me learn to live with indecision.

I am trying to learn about herbs, partially for self-care, partially because we treat most herbs like weeds when they are abundantly available, healthy, and easy to eat. Like dandelion and plantains. Also one of my friends from childhood is jumping into the learning process with me so we will have a lot of external motivation getting one another to keep learning.

I am trying to learn about sustainability, and what that looks like as an individual, a culture, a society, and a species. I am trying to learn how to grow all my own common veggies, fruits, and herbs in limited space with less-than-ideal conditions, without pesticides or really anything that doesn’t come from the ground or a more traceable circle of life. I am learning how different houses can be made more efficient, through better insulation, maintenance, windows on certain sides of the house, water filtration and storage, available solar enhancements, how to decrease electric and gas usage, etc.

I’m learning about bodies broadly- different schools of thought on how to maintain them, but also keeping in mind goals for what one wants their body to do. What postures are natural for longevity versus important for crazy loads? What diets help what conditions or demands? What home adjustments create healthier lifestyles? You name it. One change we have done is that we now sleep on a bed that is 5 inches of the ground, on top of a fairly hard futon mattress. We decided to try this because we wanted to:

  • have more of a movement challenge waking up
  • have a mattress that didn’t sag and conform to our bodies but instead provided some resistance
  • see if it would help decrease our night sweating (it did!)
  • see if it would improve our sleep (maybe it did? or maybe Figlet sleeping through the night more consistently is the culprit)
  • see if it would decrease various joint pains we were having (it did!)

I’m one step closer to volunteering with hospice! I had my training this past weekend; next step is the mentoring. I’m excited but also have my reservations of working (for free) under healthcare (as all hospice volunteers are technically unpaid employees under Medicare. For a hospice organization to receive funding, they must employ volunteers). I’m hoping the people I visit are hyperlocal so I am able to walk to their residences, and thus visit for more time.

I am trying to write more (note the increased frequency of posts?!) for my own clarity of mind, and am still occasionally creating poems to capture the more intense feelings I have here and there. I am also reading more for pleasure and curiosity than pure intentional intellectual gain, which feels much more natural and enjoyable to me.

I think I keep circling back to this idea of my life going ferally because it feels like, though no parts of what I am doing are unique alone, the culmination of them is odd and uncommon. I find myself constantly trying to label myself (usually on instagram) to have some way of summing up all I am working on in my life in a concrete way. I usually fail miserably, and end up ranting like a loon, but the show must go on.

all posts, community, mental health, mortality, nature/the environment

death as my guide

Death studies

I have been reading books on books about death. Death from the perspective of the dying, death from the vantage point of medical professions, death from philosophers, death from people who have lost someone. It’s weird to say, but I love death stuff. Not because I am morbid and have a weird fascination with the idea of being dead (frankly that scares the bejeezus out of me and sends my head into terrifying loops trying to conceptualize it), but because outside of being born, dying/being dead is the only thing I will share with all humans/living things on earth (except maybe tardigrades, and I’m still not convinced they aren’t aliens).

It’s a strange place to be in, being a student of death. I began by systemically reading the most respected books on the subject, am currently looking for a hospice place to volunteer at, and I begin my formal death doula study work in January. In other words, I have jumped down the rabbit hole and am going full speed into embracing the world of mortality.

My shift into this new paradigm of living probably has heavy roots from a topic I mentioned in a previous post. If one lives in a culture obsessed with youth and our early years (think of all the adages we use: “age before beauty”  “you are young, live a little”, etc) having a condition such as eczema/TSW/gene mutation that causes you to have “aged” and sensitive skin to the extent that it alters how you live day to day… eventually you are bound to reflect on the life you are living. The serendipity of ending such a reflection ending up on death’s doorstep is when you look around, you realize everyone will eventually join you. When someone loses a loved one, they are faced with their mortality. When someone grows up able-bodied and becomes disabled, they reflect anew on their mortality. When one grows up in a society that values/develops around intrinsic factors that deviate from one’s own, the forced recognition of not being/having the “in” qualities caused mortal reflections. In every scenario, at some point everyone will be faced with accepting their mortality, so when you do, you are just accepting what makes you innately human, knowing you will die, and the company it comes with is surprising sweet.

I have also been plagued with the urge to try and communicate what I learn from my deep dive into death, and struggle to decide what medium works best to do so. My issue is that I prefer the written hand, but how can I reach others to connect with when the written world is dominated by themed bloggers with deep followings, pay-for-ad bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, and other algorithm-based advantaged bloggers. I miss the early blogging days where it was unique enough that getting your words out what enough to provoke communal responses, before it required hashtags and search optimization. Or maybe I am simply not as compelling of a writer or communicator or thinker, and so my words as mostly unheeded from the larger populace. Either option has the same result. I am stuck learning so much but unable to communicate it with mostly anyone other than my lovely husband, who can patiently decipher my meaning even when my words are obscured by months of sleep deprivation.

I recently also contemplated podcasts, despite my obvious inability to (compelling) speak aloud. My logic was that I would improve in the former, and that most people don’t enjoy reading long form anymore, unless it is streamlined directly into their subset of interest. But who knows, maybe I will return to this idea in a few months or so. It could be fun.

Speaking of months…

Ours flew by and we are finally all moved into our new home. It’s a lovely little 3-bedroom we are renting that is shaped in such a way that our baby’s room doesn’t receive much noise from our upstairs TV room, despite us being able to hear her from said bedroom. As a result, we have been able to talk above a whisper and host friends/my parents after the baby goes to sleep, despite her habit towards light sleeping.

It’s good to be home. I missed this neighborhood, with its friendliness and quirky characters. I am excited to see our little one grow up in this town that is not a town (actually though. I googled it and it is apparently a census-designated place or an unincorporated area with no definitive boundaries). We also have vultures…? I mean, yes of course. I’m studying death so a bird of death must appear!

photo_2019-12-01 17.00.59

At the same time, the transition here hasn’t as smooth as I would hope. Having lived away for years now, I have developed a plethora of bad habits that I need to break (like feeling trapped in a city and thus emotionally eating to the point that I gained 20+ pounds in a year!).

I also need to learn to balance my time in a whole new way now that I have more freedom (including the stress reduction of not being able to get myself and my little one forest bathing/into nature). The flip side of this lovely return to a land with trees and fewer cars is that I have been so inundated in environments that always have a heavy amount of ambient light that I no longer know how to sleep well in the deeper darkness of my childhood town. And at night, every sound this house makes sets me on edge (but that’s the case with almost all new places).

In lieu of sleeping

So now I’ve constructed this post to clear my mind. I also re-read many of my older posts. Since getting into death as a subject of interest, I have been reflecting a lot on myself. I have, and continue to, expend so much energy trying to conform to fit in with models of how I have been trained to believe the world needs to work. Many of my posts reflect this as I oscillate back and forth from trying to get my entrepreneurial start to trying to conform to a cookie cutter career; both in an attempt to fit in with this world model I have internalized from my years on this earth. I’m not saying that reflecting on my mortality has rid me of this tendency, but more so that it has helped me highlight the neuroses of it, which in turn is letting me better chip away at the anxiety that comes from it. Though I am no longer to having the ultimate job/career smoothly going, I have gotten better at trying to figure out what my self-decided purpose is with the time I have on this earth.