Each day it gets a little colder here, and I wake up with the daunting knowledge that my first and biggest challenge is going to be finding my way out of bed. Bed is, if not the good place then at least the comfortable place: burrowed under a weighted blanket weighed down by more blankets, snuggled up to a heating pad, toasty-warm, inviting me to stay a while longer…
Getting up is the opposite of enticing: cold, anxiety-inducing. A source of dread.
My tiny house is unheated, I know that I will see my breath for at least the first few hours, already anticipating the shriek I will let out when I go to wash my hands, the water so cold that it almost burns.
Some way or another, I am going to have to be my own hero, braver than I can imagine from within my cave of blankets, braver than the marines, and just do it. Just get up, babe. I believe. Mostly.
What time is it? Bravery time!
I keep my clothes in my bed, like on a camping trip, so I can change out of sleepwear and into a different set of warm layers, safely beneath the covers. In between I reach out a hand for the wooden handle of a dry brush, hanging from a hook on the wall.
Dry-brushing skin is good for my anxiety, good for keeping me grounded, but is also the part that demands the most bravery.
I have learned that it helps to play music or a podcast to help me focus, and also that this is not enough: always set a bell as a timer, or I might end up staring into space for hours, caught up in a stim-cycle closed loop, running fingers through my hair, or drumming them on the bed.
Then it’s bravery time: hat on, run into the front room, turn on the space heater, light three candles, measure out two mason jars of water to heat, one at a time, start running. 3:33, let’s go.
Running is an exaggeration, it’s more of a light jog, which might also be an exaggeration, let’s call it slightly faster than a brisk walk, tracing figure eights on the kitchen rug, arms crossed tightly or hands folded, thumbs pressing into my chest because I definitely don’t have the ability to navigate a sports bra these days, the goal is to keep painful jostling to a minimum.
3:33 = the time the timer is set for.
One set of 3:33 of kitchen-jogging, combined with the humming space heater and the steam from the kettle, warms me up enough to be able to take my hat off. The second 3:33 might get me to unbutton my top layer. Progress.
I usually do 3:33 x 4, or 3:33 x 5, depending. One of these is the right amount of time for a jog. By the time I’m done, the sky is less dark, I am slightly more energized, and am rewarded with a steaming jar of hot water with lemon to drink. The second jar of heated water is for washing my hands, delaying the shriek until later when I inevitably forget to heat more water.
Progress, again. It all counts.
What’s in a habit
The word habit is so boring, and yet the work of rewriting patterns (and what is a habit if not a collection of patterns 👀) is maybe the thing I am most passionate about, the reason I started this business nearly twenty years ago.
And if I know anything about shifting habits, it’s that the work of [Trying Things, Without Judgment], always yields results. All experiments are useful experiments, maybe even especially the things that don’t work, or don’t work the way I think they will.
We try things, but mainly: we try them with a playful, compassionate approach
This practice is also how we accidentally stumble our way into things that do work, many of which we might never have come up with through trying to be practical or logical (like 3:33, why does it work? I don’t know, it just does, for me, right now, and that’s enough), it works until it doesn’t, it is until it isn’t, and then we try something new…
Transitions & sweetness
The difficult thing for me (after being the bravest person on earth and getting out of bed, despite all odds) is the transitions, whether that’s the transition between Warming Up and starting my workout, the transition from breakfast to getting things done, the transition from doing into rest time.
This is also heavily ritualized for me. Ten minutes on the balance board. Dance around the room for three songs. The right snacks, currently: a dried banana and a slightly caffeinated warm beverage.
I am also big believer in the twin superpowers of Dessert First and Solved By Cake.
Yesterday I made chocolate halva pudding and this morning I had some for pre-breakfast, and it was the answer to so many things.
Enticements: what are yours?
But then again, I really, really like enticing things (yes, I mean both the practices and rituals that feel enticing to me, and also of course the verb, being the enticement), and so this is information I have about myself that I can use both playfully and strategically.
The pieces of intel you acquire as you do reconnaissance on yourself, or the things you already know to be true about yourself that you can use (to tempt, motivate, inspire, or simply remind you of the things you know you will forget) might be different than mine, which is fine.
That’s why we experiment.
We are just gathering information about how we function in this world, and what we need to function better, and both of these might change over time. That’s okay too.
Use what works, take notes, try again
Being a human in a body is complicated and weird, and that might be both the least and most wise thing I have to say on this topic in the moment.
All experiments are useful experiments, a thousand points (at least!) for trying.
We use what works (or what might work), we take notes, and we bravely try again.
Hot water and other mysteries
Do you remember when my hot water heater stopped working back in February (probably from the pipes flooding, but also it turned out there was a rat’s nest inside of it, love this journey for me), and then I was stuck in limbo waiting on a small and hard-to-find part that was delayed indefinitely due to supply chain issues…?
The missing piece was located, but it turned out that the heater is still unfix-able, so now it needs to be replaced, which launched a disagreement that turned into a series of fights between me and former handyman.
He wants to keep things on propane, while I am still traumatized from last year’s house fire and want to move to electric. He wants to install a larger heater underneath the house, I don’t want a situation where if the heater stops working again, someone needs to take off the siding and slide into a crawl space, especially when the only people who fix things around here are close to seventy years old and recovering from hip surgery.
So is this even about hot water, I’m not sure
I am told there are places where people will just fix things the way you want them to be fixed? Like, you can just say what you want and the person you are paying to do it will do it? But not here apparently, or maybe this is yet another ongoing experiment in Boundary Stuff, we will see.
Anyway, the point is that I don’t have hot water, the situation seemingly has no solution other than that I need a new hot water heater and someone to replace it, and somehow there are only two people in the entire county who know how to fix things if you can catch them when they aren’t busy, also I do not particularly trust either of them, and at least one of them is going to fight me hard every step of the way.
I make do with daily hot towel “baths”, dipping washcloths in a jug of steaming water, fresh from the kettle, using wooden tongs to fish them out.
When I can’t take it anymore and need a proper shower as well as the experience of being immersed in water to satisfy my piscean nature and to tend to the trauma self who wants to basically live in warm water full-time, I take myself on a day trip and visit some hot springs.
Some are nicer than others. I’m not sure how this is going to work when winter comes for real and the roads are snowy or icy, but I also don’t currently have another way of solving this other than lighting candles at the altar of And It Solves Itself.
May it solve itself, easily and beautifully, without my input. I welcome all simple, sustainable solutions.
Talk to me about IMMERSION
Hot springs are an obvious form of immersion: source from the source. Into the waters.
But writing is also an immersion. 3:33s are a form of immersion.
Immersion supports wishing. Immersion supports new ways of seeing things. Immersion is hope-based (may things get better), and immersion is a release-mechanism (may I stop trying to push and force my way into answers when I can let the warmth of the water remind me about softening…)
Immersion versus Immersive
I am thinking about experiences of immersion and immersing, and how they are similar and different, like meditating and meditative but also not like that at all.
Similarly, I am thinking about containers of time as a form of intentional immersing.
What qualities, wishes and experiments am I immersing myself in for November, or from equinox to solstice?
November wishes and superpowers
This morning it was easier than it has been for me in a while, to bravely get out of bed, to launch myself into 3:33s, to flow through 36×17 sun salutations (another form of immersion, another form of stimming) and to get myself to eat warm, nourishing food, with less coaxing needed than in October.
So that’s a hopeful noticing, and I am collecting good omens like this for It Solves Itself November, which is also Resetting The Rituals November and Higher High Regard November, a November of Surprise Ease aka Even Easier Than That November, which might also be Find The Fun Way November.
My friend Kathryn suggested NO-vember (to help refuse things that are Not Yes), which I love. Just Say No (vember!) to whatever is not needed here.
I also love Vember, a mystery word that rhymes with remember, and after all the work of rewriting habits is in the remembering. I love how Vember is not a word but it contains V + Ember.
V + Ember
V = Victory, Vengeance, Voluptuousness, and things that are Very-Very (over the top, delightfully too much which is just enough)
Ember = still burning actually, aka even when I think I have lost hope or my sense of self or a sense of what I desire or where to go next, the fire is still lit, a small sweet spark, eternal flame, still going.
Wishing some wishes for November and beyond
I am wishing for:
- more immersing (in delicious warm water and in general)
- sweet sweet focus
- a simple easy solution to having hot water in the trailer
- simple easy appealing solutions for showering
- rituals that are fun and enticing (how can I make them so luscious that I crave them)
- treasuring myself even more (new levels of high regard)
- reinforce what needs reinforcing
- no worry no hurry (but also not going into tendencies of being overly-flexible, cough, people pleasing)
- finding the joy in trailer life
- what is the opposite of dread / what would it be like to stop second-guessing everything?
Calling on (and in) some superpowers for November and beyond
It Solves Itself
Victory From The Embers
A Thousand Points For Remembering (and no judgment for forgetting again)
I Am A Badass Cowboy Actually
I Am A Creative Force
The Return Of Desire
The Fun Way Exists And Will Reveal Itself When I Look For It
Even Easier Than That
The Fun Way Exists And Will Reveal Itself When I Look For It?!
Tell me more about that please…
Things That Solved Themselves In October
So many things in this category, actually! An astonishing number.
Including: finally convincing the wifi company to send out a tech to adjust the satellite so now I have signal again. A friend who is possibly an actual angel came to visit from Washington State, camped out on my property, and insulated beneath my trailer, and also made a list of all the things local fix-it people did not do, despite having said they did, and then did those too.
Oh, and as you may have noticed from this long-form piece that was not finger-typed on my phone, I now have a working keyboard again! With love and gratitude to a retreat person / blog reader who sent me a spare keyboard, so now I can type again, the joy!
Another retreat friend researched local flu shots for me when I was having an especially bad brain week.
And I finessed some recipes I’ve been playing with for a while: green chile cauliflower potato soup, a chocolate dandelion root powder banana bread, and the perfect pre-breakfast halva pudding.
It was solving itself all along
Sure, there may be many items still in the Ongoing Frustrating Unsolved Mystery category, and yet, when I remember to pause, pay attention and ask the right questions, I am able to recognize all the ways in which things have been solving themselves all along, problems generating their own solutions, is that not also an immersion in luck and love and magic?
If it was solving itself all along, what else is solving itself right now, beneath the surface, generating its own solutions?
Let’s keep remembering, noticing, asking, playing, wondering, wishing, getting out of bed (when we can, if we can, if that’s an option) or the symbolic equivalent, being brave for three minutes and thirty three seconds at a time, getting back into bed because that’s also a win and sometimes it’s really the only indicated answer, and let’s keep investigating these questions.
What do I need? What might help? Where is the ease?
Lighting a candle for the questions.
Come play with me, I love company
You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!
You can brainstorm experiments & practices, for rewriting any patters or for whatever you might going through, People Vary.
And as always, you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, themes you’re playing with, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship is healing.
If you received clues or perspective or just want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, it’s slow going.
I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, and it all helps with fixing what needs fixing, currently focused on making it through winter.
Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!
And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it so much. ❤️