12 Jan 2015, 3:56pm
General On the Peace Path Stress/ Relaxation
Comments Off on New Geometries

New Geometries

in the bus shelter
Freezing rain makes silhouettes from the bus shelter figures.

The documentaries Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light and Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment has me thinking about geometries of images.

waiting on the transitway
Framing for simpler isn’t an art I yet have.

foggy morning
But I’m realizing that too much focus loses accuracy.

Motion is sometimes the thing.

On another note, thanks to Gerard for pointing to Matryoshka Word Generator.

11 Oct 2013, 12:04pm
Ottawa Stress/ Relaxation
1 comment

Carleton University Butterfly House

shed cocoon by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

Looking for something to do on the Thanksgiving long weekend to decompress? Each fall Carleton University’s greenhouse has a butterfly exhibit. This year it’s 10 days and ends Oct 14th.

Owl Butterfly by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com Index by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

Here’s looking at you Owl Butterfly.

Inside there are guides to give names to what you see. Watch for butterflies, and toddlers underfoot.

It runs 9am to 4pm. It’s free but it can be full, or with a line-up depending on your timing. (We went straight in.) Although a little swelter is welcome in these frosty days, you may want to dress accordingly.

Tree Nymph by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

A Tree Nymph Butterfly was getting friendly.

The Clipper? by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

A Clipper (I believe) on the back of someone busy photographing an Orange Tiger Butterfly. There are signs saying “Don’t touch the butterflies”, but they can touch you.

Zebra Longwing by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

“Just living is not enough, said the Butterfly. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” said Hans Christian Anderson. There’s an amazing density of butterflies, such as this Zebra Longwing.

Blue Morpho by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

And oranges everywhere in the palms of kids or parents, or left behind for butterflies to drink. This plain butterfly on being described as plain, as if on cue, flashed:

Blue Morpho by Pearl Pirie on 500px.com

Ah, a Blue Morpho.

Some have broken wings, perhaps in part from people taking fright at being crawled on. Or just the hard living of being in the last days of winged life.

Info on some of the more than 90 species around here can be found at Ontario butterflies and local moths

Quote: “I know not if I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or if I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.” ~ Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650)

9 Oct 2013, 5:08pm
Health Stress/ Relaxation
Comments Off on Layers of Real

Layers of Real

(I had written this in April, but somehow it got saved to drafts instead.)

There’s all kinds of layers of tangible and intangible reals. Compare against real boy’s photo or real boy the images steps away, one of decades ago, one of this year.

bytown boy rebranded bytown boy original
There’s satire of commercial real by Michele Provost. There’s real, from the 1950s. Then there’s the original boy who’s perhaps walking among us but looking very much different.

All kinds of us walk around looking real. And being real but not identical. I feel like I harp on this point and perhaps I do because I’m harped at and told I’m normal, a dismissal of sorts. I have an inkling of normal I’m led to believe that there are people who live outside of depression, panic attacks, chronic pain, etc. Got out of bed is a Kilimanjaro without a guide nor expedition company.

One feels less real some days as if behind block glass. You know there are distortions.

You have to go forward with the assumption that you have reliable information you can act on. Somewhere inside I believe that my perceptions are true complete assessments, even if I hedge with the vast unknowable humbleness, there are still patterns reliable enough to work on.

If I wake up feeling 4x my normal gravity and I get out clothes and bring 3 pairs of socks and no shirt when I do persuade myself to get out of bed, it’s one of those days. Not an absent-minded day but when everything will be hard. Probably my depth perception will be off as well. Mindfulness practice or walking or monk music may help, as well as staying hydrated and patient but not exacerbating doesn’t remove the base state. Skewed me.

Did I tell you the story of when we first moved to the neighbourhood and tried to do grocery shopping with an incoming migraine. I swore to Brian it was ugliest of stores with violent lights and hostile clerks and dirt and it took him a while to persuade me to try it again. When we did, it was like returning to a town after decades away.  Of course, in the return I assumed, now I had the proper Platonic truth filer on and this is how charming the store is. (ugh. can I be a feeding tube earthworm in my next incarnation? but they may have the same issues.)  

I’ve mentioned before Christine Miserandino’s spoons theory (Starting 3 minutes in)

The noteableness about the quote is that descriptions of depression talk about sudden onset, change in appetite, change in passion, moods. It is more thorough than that. The chemistry tips at random times like a deer scarer. There may be disproportional reactivity and cascading from a cause, or no discernible cause.

It is a radio in the head, sometimes quiet, sometimes screened out or clicked off. If it asks for attention and is ignored, it becomes a roar that’s hard to hear past.

It is chemical predisposition. That idea cleaves chemistry from the organs that make and express it, but it is another beastie among the menagerie of influences within.

Sometimes it seems to go away. Exhilarating normality of relief from low-grade distress. It’s one of the possible impairments at play. It doesn’t mean low function. It often means invisible. Although I suppose with time, we all become energy-readers of those on the same wavelength.

Acting cheerful isn’t the familiar face of depression but I years I refused to spiral down to a socially acceptable level of mope so others’ prejudices would be validated. Was that it? Or I didn’t want to be a trigger for others and cause a cascade. If we assume we are all delicate and forget we are all also tough and resilient even if inconvenienced by body and mood…

It’s easy enough for me to think I’m “all better” and then get thumped by that hybrid of Eeyore and Tigger. I have to be my own firm advocate of time and boundaries. That means opening boundaries not only shutting out. Close yourself off, you practice threat, rehearse anxiety. Open yourself up? Others are signalled that it’s safe & you give them that freedom to be safe as well. Except for the bullies who will smell blood and attack. Yeah, there’s that. Or the well-meaning will give unsolicited advice because they are a one-article expert as vs. living the walk for two or three decades or more.

Depression’s not only stick in the mud.

It’s not only being the bitter note or the calloused reply or dark humour. It can be any of that.

It is learned behavior in part and mental habit is part. Stress is the outward things, the people, the pollution or economics but it is also the self-talk.

Depression isn’t cause-related. When you’re bummed, you can point and say, this, me sad. Everyone gets “depressed” now and then. People die. Jobs disappear. People steal things from you or act mean. You may not bounce back right away. That’s not depression.

Depression is more than context-based. It is ach, who built this mental city where all the off-ramps lead to existential angst?

Head game. Observing self. Strategies.

It’s not only strategies and workarounds.

I want it to be simple as diet and exercise and having a central sense of purpose and schedule. Panacea? Sign me up. I’ll be a sucker for a bit of relief again.

It’s not only those but they and allergic triggers although all those can amplify or lessen. Stress, self-talk, worsens.

It’s a work with, not a fixable; not discipline-related any more than dyslexia is. To say think your way out of is like saying, just concentrate, you can grow a 3rd arm. Or pray for a new foot, it would have come, if you really wanted one instead of just liked complaining. Or just pay attention and instruct yourself in how to live and in a puff of purple smoke of blame, you’ll be a millionaire.

Depression is more systemic and not mood exactly. I’ve been pounced on more times than I can count by people who want to prove to me I’m fine because I was just witnessed, (witnessed I tell you) enjoying something, or look relaxed. Aha, proof of normalness, therefore I was just overstating, exaggerating and plain wrong before because I appeared cheerful. And was cheerful even.

Therefore the situation is mood and lack of logic to see that there is no general problem. I don’t know what drives people to try to help this way. I suppose by “helping” they are not helpless in their empathy and can dismiss something from being worried about.

Our social contract with one another is to inform and to entertain, but also for all to excel, one needs empathy which is based on caring not on suppressing. Based on listening and on speaking frankly. [More on that tomorrow.]

Roundup of best comics on depression

Noteable Quoteable: “Depression is mistrusting every good thing that happens. Depression is realizing that, when things seem to be going your way for once, this is always the part of the movie when aliens attack and destroy the earth.” ~ Anne Thériault

Forest Walk

For Our World Tuesday, walk into the calm side, a Quebec forest. Of all the things I’ve ever done, that activity is unique in I’ve never felt I was wasting my life for any time spent there.

1:38 minute walk in the winter woods listening for the woodpecker.

Quiet as a pine.

hair caught in bark
Thick black hairs caught in the bark at what is, snow where it is now, waist high on me. Someone was itchy. Too tall for a dog. Guard-hair thick. Bear? A pony mane seems unlikely. Odd randomness of a thick-haired child? I like the gesture left behind on the tree.

sparkling muck
Even muck sparkles.

Indoors, translucence.

Notable Quotable: “It is good to know about our terrible selves, not laud, or criticize then, just acknowledge them. [In That way…] We are not running wildly after beauty with fear at our backs.” Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones p. 18

Pushing and Holding Limits

less is

Toni Bernhard wrote Confessions of a Sick Person

I had simply stopped taking good care of myself. Instead of asking, “How can I take care of myself today?” I’d been asking, “How can I push my limits today?”

What a key swap of questions. It’s not as if one could become complacent and bask in self-nurturing. That alone is deathly boring. The limit pushing will not disappear. They will stay in tension but the proportions need tilting because shy health will happily take a back seat to a pushy ego. And it is a matter of ego. Self-image is reliant on what one can and does, not on what one is. She goes on,

As a result, I was overextending myself in every way: visiting with people for too long, pushing against my nap time and my bedtime, staying on the computer too long. I’d forgotten “how to be sick”! Within days of beginning again to take care of myself, I’d returned to my baseline.

It’s easy to skew life balance. Life’s main game is calibrating oneself without making unnecessarily small limits, nor overestimating and blowing it too badly.

Wants get grabby. Getting what you want exacerbates wanting to do more, explore more, extend more.

fallen leaf

Without recharging the time you need, not the time others say you need, not the time you can get by on, but actual nourishing time needed to flourish, you only hurt yourself. With people with chronic pain and chronic fatigue the switch to self-damage sweeps in faster and the effects can stay around longer.

The first bits of overextending yourself you can absorb, ignore; Not feeling fully “on”, not working efficiently, not perceiving clearly, limbs feeling less coordinated and less energetic. Moods swinging more freely, sensitivity up. You can even imagine those effects as good, if they weren’t just distortions instead of accurate readings.

An aside from Betsy Lerner in An Editor’s Advice to Writers: The Forest for the Trees (Riverhead Books, 2000) p. 127

Mania only makes you think you are great. It does not ensure greatness. And depression only makes you feel worthless. It does not confer worthlessness. It’s hard enough to know if your writing is good without the distorted valuation of mood swings.

To be pushing your limits is to court Everything Slipping, for on a cellular level the body is getting cramped up.

window sign

There’s a lot to keep running. A balance of hydrated, well-slept, meaningfully-challenged, well-exercised, stretched and tensed and relaxed, well-nourished, well-touched, with solitude and social, and getting the deep breaths that help the circulating blood get to all the parts it needs to.

There’s more that keeps running without effort. The machine goes. It is resilient. It can eat mud and be hunted for years, be wracked with parasites, living in existential angst and still not die, still be able to be creative and capable of empathy. Optimal has a wide range.

I can see pain as just sensation, as indicator lights, as non-threatening bugaboo, that I can work around, but it still wears on resources. I don’t know how I regularly forget that.

Now that it has buggered off for more of the time, I can actually do things. I guess that pain had been taking more energy real estate than I realized. I’ve had a boom of productivity, clarity.

But even that is subject to being wrenched loose at times. I’m fighting a cold – successfully I think so far – but taking the idea of 20 minutes of exercise causes a hormonal shift and endorphin flow, I hadn’t counted on the cold weather more than countering whatever I gain.

Once I got cold cycling my distress spiked up, but worse, I lost the head game. Not as much as I could have but still, lost perspective and self-escalated. A tightened muscle is one that is saying no. My back started spasming. Relaxing into pain comforts it. Tensing against it tells the body to continue because it’s on to something. I tightened.

I had covered off needs of social, solitude, focus, work, exercise, largely. I hadn’t given my “pet body” a balanced amount of water, food and intervals of stretches that day for it to thrive. It told me in no uncertain terms. It is resilient but not silent anymore.

Mood and body are hard to make diverge sometimes. I split and fell like a lightning struck tree.

But once I warmed up, parboiling myself in the bathroom, I could wire that trunk back to normal. Reasonableness, rationality. Life became doable again.

Temperature and I have a strange and tight relationship.

As I increased protein and water intake, I feel less reptilian.

But that doesn’t mean I like sunning any less.

Quote: “”Last night she signed/all the papers//The red lights/are everywhere and his mind/is running them all” ~ Lorri Neilsen Glenn, All the Perfect Disguises (Broken Jaw Press, 2003)

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