Denouement

Man's Search for Meaning talks about three mental stages of imprisonment in the concentration camps. What happens to the prisoner just after being put into the camp, entrenchment, and the third being what happens to the prisoner's mind after release. I'm out of my own little prison, but what does that mean for me moving forward? Half of the book is recounting the details of what happened, and the other half is about analyzing and studying those experiences. Even though I wrote a lot throughout my counselling, I still have a lot to sift through in order to truly complete my growth. Carrie just had her convocation, so a school-related analogy would mean that this stage for me is equivalent to the time after finishing final exams and packing up my belongings in order to move on to the next project in life. Even though the hard part is over, there's still a lot of baggage to put away and people to connect with before moving on.

I suspect that when most people read a book like this, they all experience it differently from how I did. They feel appalled, they think "how interesting," or "wow, I could never go through that." My predominant feeling while reading it was empathy. Even though I was never technically imprisoned, I found that I could relate to a lot of the feelings he described. Where some people might read through and express shock and horror, I went through certain passages nodding my head in agreement, thinking "yep, I know how that feels." Emotionally shutting down, becoming numb to the suffering of others, embracing the pain, finding meaning in the darkness. I had tried reading this a few years back, and it was too traumatizing to make it past the first few pages. It's a short book, and I'm about halfway through.

What else is there to do now that my counselling is over? I already wrote a few posts about how I'm different from before I started, but that's only scratching the surface. My analogy of choice throughout that time was of drowning. Say I fell into the ocean, treading water like Jack in Titanic, and just when all hope seemed to be lost, I was suddenly rescued. The process of returning to full health can involve many things like treating the hypothermia, changing out of the wet clothes, sipping a warm drink, and eating some food. What does that mean for me with regard to my counselling? Just because I stopped suffering, does that mean I'm ready to embark on the next adventure? I thought that's what it meant, but I'm getting signals that there must be loose ends I'm not done with.

May was entirely a transition month. Carrie and I tried to stay out of trouble. Stayed home, rested. Didn't really go out, didn't enjoy any patios. Slept lots. I could have gone crazy celebrating, but instead, I just wanted to sleep. We got really bored, but before long, we found lots of little cracks that needed to be filled in, lots of little tasks that piled up from procrastination. We put away Carrie's desk into storage, just to get the associated feeling of school out of the home. That freed up a lot of space. Then we cleaned like mad. Donated or consigned unwanted clothing. Sifted through storage and discarded a lot of stuff. I did a brain transplant on my 3D printer. There was a list that piled up of about a dozen fixes and upgrades I wanted to make to it, but I only found the energy during May even though I always had the time to perform them. Mopped, swept, redecorated. We built a new shoe rack from IKEA. Carrie sold some jewelry and bought books with the money. Upgraded our record player and bought some vinyls. Shuffled the coffee equipment on the counter. We put the toaster away. That one may not seem like much, but when you live in a space this small, anything that isn't being used regularly quickly becomes very annoying and somehow gets in the way all the time. We've settled into a quiet quotidian routine. Now that it's June, busyness has spiked quite quickly, so now Carrie and I are transitioning to that pace. It's funny how clearly delineated our lives are with the changing of months.

Counselling made me a lot stronger than I realized. There's a confidence that comes from hitting rock bottom. You know how bad it can get, and you also know that you survived. Even though I thought I had duct taped together a nice little comfy life by my mid 20's, I almost lost it all. That's made me less afraid of the world, and it also deepens my gratitude.

In a practical sense, I need to find full-time work that makes me happy. I quit my last job, and EI lasts until the end of September. I was just offered a full time position at work, so that's a step forward towards the conclusion of this story.

One other way I know I shouldn't rush to my next story is because I'm still tired. I still see the world through weary eyes. My posture is that of a broken man, exhausted from the beating he took throughout the counselling. Viktor Frankl talks about negative happiness, or freedom from suffering. In that sense, I'm experiencing negative happiness right now. Bad things have stopped randomly happening to me, like that one time several months ago at the gym when whoever showered before me decided to turn up the heat all the way up and point it where I normally stand out of the way when turning on the water, scalding my face on an already rough morning. I also experience positive happiness now, where good things happen to me, but I still feel drained. You can see it in my face. There's still that slump in my shoulders. I haven't fully recharged.

One of my guiding principles is to stay put until you know when to move on. Suppose I went for a walk on one of the many nice days we're seeing here in Calgary. I'll walk along the river, find a nice place to sit, and then relax. I'll think some thoughts, check some online feeds, maybe take a picture, then sit some more. After a while, I'll get self conscious. Should I just keep sitting? When should I leave? Does someone need this spot later? A previous version of me would have gotten awkward and nervous, leaving for no particular reason other than feeling unsure of how long he should sit. What I do now is stay put. It's an extension of the idea of simplifying my life. Why move if you don't have to? Instead of letting my anxiety get the better of me, I stay planted until I know I need to go. Maybe I'll need to go to the washroom. Maybe I'll feel hungry. More likely, I'll remember that I'm allergic to grass and I shouldn't be outside in the first place because I have bad hay fever. This principle has been the antidote I needed against the insecure drive to optimize and maximize every part of my life. There's a fear of missing out built in to that philosophy, which conveniently exacerbates my anxiety. I was at the farmer's market last weekend, and when I was standing in the aisle, I realized I was blocking this woman and quickly shuffled out of her way. She thanked me but also gave me a stern warning: "Don't ever rush through anything in your life. Take it from me. Take your time." She was very adamant. It's a message I've told myself over and over to little effect, but it's starting to sink in now that I've cleared a lot of garbage from my life.

I know I can't move on to the next episode until the credits roll through completely. Netflix likes to skip the credits when it can, giving you that 15 second timer before it auto-plays the next episode. I gotta cancel that and wait to the end. Maybe there will be a special scene after the credits like in The Avengers.

Growth and Decay

Like attracts like. I'm always growing, and the people that have stuck around with me are the same way. A few weeks back, I was eating lunch with some friends in Edmonton, and while we were all getting caught up, I remarked how everyone at the table was in a stage of rapid growth. We were all at a point where we faced dilemmas and uncertain paths with high stakes and small timeframes. We were all taking big risks, betting on ourselves and long term happiness over short term comfort. J. Cole says "if you ain't aim too high, then you aim too low." The result isn't the important part, but it's the stretching, the reaching, the extension of our capabilities and strength that should be the focus.

I'm in a rebuild stage, much like the Oilers have been for the last decade. (The last time they were in the playoffs, I was in high school.) I've parted ways with a lot of friends, and I think one of the more divisive reasons was because of the differences in our rates of growth. It's not necessarily about still partying vs. settling down, but some people my age are ready to retire while others remain in a building phase.

I've been going to the gym consistently for six months now, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I don't care about the magnitude of the weights I'm hitting per se, but I care that I'm still making it inside the gym. For years prior to this commitment, my health wasn't trending in the right direction. That is, my muscles weren't growing but my belly was. If you had provided me suggestions on workouts and techniques, I wouldn't have appreciated it. Now that I'm in a growth mentality with respect to my physical health, I do. We attract people based on shared values and what's important at the time.

I value being close to the action and to other people. Living in Calgary, I feel like I'm always selling the idea of how great it is to live in the core, to be close to other friends and to be able to access random fun events nearby. This principle is less practical in Canada's largest cities. Even still, we don't actually live what I would consider super close to that many people anyway. It's usually at least a 5-10 minute drive, less than conveniently walkable, which makes it kinda hard to assemble a group together on a weekend or to see friends on a whim. On the other hand, I have friends who have caught on to this idea in Edmonton and have a big crew all living within about six blocks downtown. They see each other at least once every weekend but easily more than that throughout the week. I'm jelly. To be fair, Edmonton's downtown has been under construction for a long time, so even this is a recent development. At the same time, I get why the suburbs are appealing. I can't really turn up my stereo in my condo without my floor-standing speakers pounding through the walls and floor, annoying my neighbours. I wish I had space for a true workshop, putting $10k into tools, storage bins, and all those little electronic components. I discovered that my left hip is rotated out of alignment because I sit hunched over my desk, watching my 3D printer on the left side. The size of our home is apparently dangerous for my health. I get that having a detached home is nice, but I'm not ready for that yet. I can't justify the cost of social isolation.

There are people my age who are ready to retire. They want to call it a life, sit back, and kick up their feet. They're innocuous. Their lives don't really mean anything or impact anyone, and that's enough for them. They have 60 good years ahead of them, and they're basically just an open mouth. All they want is more, not realizing that they'll never be satisfied no matter what income goal they reach. They live only for themselves. They don't want to challenge the system because they've profited greatly from it and plan on continuing to do so for themselves and their progeny. It's kind of an old-fashioned way of thinking, where my parents' generation had to keep working at great personal cost. They made money and had stable lives, but they're super eager to retire and to never work again. They also pushed the importance of passion onto our generation, which is why millennials tend to quit a job they don't enjoy so they can have fun experiences instead. In that sense, I naturally attract people who are shaking up their own comfortable worlds in order to be happier. I have a friend who just moved to the big city so they can be closer to their partner, leaving behind a familiar job and most of their family and friends. The important part to me is that they felt conflicted about the decision. They were unsure which way to go, so they weighed every single variable, and for a long time at that. Whatever they decided in the end, I knew it would be the right choice for them. Even if they made a mistake, counting all those costs would help them to realize the error sooner than later, and making the mistake would be a valuable part of the learning process. You can only simulate so many variables until you're left with an element of unknowns, at which point you just have to give it a shot. Again, the result isn't the important part to me, but instead it's the growth from evaluating all the parameters that reassures me they'll be okay. It takes conviction to take stock of every part of your life and truly question what its value is to you. "I have these certain close friends, and this number of friends I see on a regular basis. I have this home routine and these hangout spots that are familiar to me, and I have these family members that I like to see. This job is comfortable and rewarding. Is that all enough to justify my long distance relationship? If I move and start over with everything, will I hate it? How long before I make new friends?" I'm incredibly proud of them for making the brave decision. They're growing and not retiring.

Everyone's life goals are different. If they're happy living in the 'burbs, you can't really argue with that. However, for people who still don't have a family and/or kids, it just doesn't make sense. I have a friend who bought a house in the suburbs almost right after university, but shortly afterwards, he realized he was too isolated for being in his early twenties and subsequently sold it. Carrie and I could raise a child in our little studio if we really wanted to. We eventually want to get a bigger home once we do decide to pop out some younglings, but we want it for multiple reasons, not just because that's what people our age are supposed to do. The entitled Albertan narrative is that each child needs 1000 sq. ft. of real estate to themselves, and their parents should break their backs to provide it for them. Step outside of the province for one moment and see that few people in the world manage to live that way. A lot of successful and happy children grew up in shoeboxes under the stairs, and there's no causal connection that says a big home made a child into a happy and self-regulating adult. Meanwhile, banks and car dealerships are robbing Albertans blind. And the parents are too busy working to afford their home to be able to raise their kids. Some of these young adults are handed this life plan, and they just go with it.

"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

Some are driven by possessions, and some by people. I've had little and I've had plenty, so I'm content these days with not making a ton of money and only working half of the week. I have a lot of material possessions, but what I desire is relationship and friendship. I get a lot more time with Carrie, but it's weird not spending as much time with friends. Maybe we should move to Edmonton's downtown.

The lesson I've been presented through several avenues throughout my counselling has been that I need to be okay with being on my own. I need to accept that sometimes I'm required to be alone and that's okay. Carrie calls them my existential concerns because they have implications in other areas such as how to handle death. We're all created to connect with everything around us, but as hard as it is, I still need to be okay by myself in this universe. Even with the ample amount of time I spent alone while unemployed, it was hard to accept it while the rest of my life was falling apart. Now that I've reached a modicum of solace, I think I can finally face it. Being secure with enjoying my own company will enrich my relationships with others.

It doesn't feel good when you outgrow people, but sometimes that's just the way it has to be. We all have choices to make in order to live the life we want. Inspired recently by Carrie and a friend to read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," reading this statement stopped me:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

I'm practicing how to meet people where they are instead of forcing them to meet me on my level. I want to keep growing, and apparently the friends I'm making and keeping now are the ones who are choosing to do the same. If my friends refuse to grow, then I have to honour their decision and let them go.

Simplify

I don't know what to write about anymore. So much has changed. Even the simple fact that my schedule is different means that I have to adjust when and how I write. I don't have any catastrophes anymore, so there isn't anything major to really complain about, process, analyze, or deconstruct. Most of the remaining problems are slow-burning. I've said all I wanted to say through the difficult times. I didn't really hold back or pull any punches.

The primary function that my writing served was to offload the chaos in my head. I had too many thoughts, too many cyclical discussions with myself which were vaporized once I wrote them out. The week before last, I didn't really experience that. I'm adjusting better. The crushing devastation is absent from my heart now, so I feel like there isn't a huge need to reach out for support. That's partly why I didn't write a post last weekend.

Art is borne from pain. Beauty can only be revealed in contrast with the hideousness of life. I have struggles, but they're not overwhelming me anymore. I feel like I'm on top of it. That's why I think fairy tales end with "...and they lived happily ever after." The conflict is the interesting part. Once it's gone, what is there to describe? Longtime readers will remember my Wordpress blog and how I shared the dumbest things there. You can scroll back in the archives on this Squarespace blog and see the dumb things I shared before too. Surely I was still struggling with the same things, but they were all suppressed and outside of my consciousness.

Sometimes I read other blogs where nothing really happens. I think "who gives a shit that you have nothing going on?" On the other hand, I love living every day to the fullest. Describing the mundane boredom of our everyday experiences is a great way to connect with everyone. I'm not one for huge events. Instead, I funnel a lot of my energies into enjoying every day, which makes life more pleasant overall versus waiting for the special occasions. I recognize there are those that prefer the opposite. I'll try to see some friends on a regular basis, and they'll flake until a wedding or some giant get-together. Bleh. Alas, I love to glorify everyday experiences. Carrie says my blog can't just be doom and gloom all the time. She may have a point.

I was trying to make this blog into something. Instead, I realized this past week that it should just be a reflection of who I am and what I'm thinking at the moment. I think the series of posts during my hard times fit some sort of function for me and others, but there's a difference between being authentic and genuine versus trying to fit a role. I was trying too hard to make this blog into some sort of motivational, quotes-porn platform, which is another reason why I couldn't come up with a post last week. Moving forward, I want to focus on presenting my thoughts each week so that my mind avoids cyclical thinking. No more, no less.

Alas, I do have something to say this time. Simplify. I may have touched on this a long time ago, but here we go anyways. I used to try to improve my life in a lot of ways. I'd optimize my routine, my commute to work, my possessions. I was always trying to get better quality out of my experiences, but I'm reminded now that I need to simplify instead. I think in my Western worldview, I have way too much going on. Too many possessions. Too many hobbies. Too many activities in my social calendar. On the other end of the spectrum, simplicty isn't minimalism necessarily, which values having little for the sake of having little. Minimalism is a response to an excessive lifestyle that swings the pendulum too far the other way. Simplicity is finding that delicate and ambiguous balance.

I define simplicity as having enough. It's super vague, but that's part of the point, to challenge what it means to have what you need. For instance, I love to eat. I'm not a foodie, but I just like to eat delicious things. Simplicity in my diet can mean choosing appropriate portion sizes, like eating until I'm not hungry anymore. However, what is appropriate for a meal? That depends. How much energy do I need for the next few hours? What kind of energy do I need? What's the weather and climate? Will I be active soon? What time of day is it? How much can I cram into my stomach? How emotional am I at the moment? Am I eating enough if my tummy physically hurts afterwards? I do eat emotionally, so sometimes simplicity can be stuffing my face with food if it means that I'm not turning to a less ideal coping strategy like boozing.

That's the silly example. The serious one is how I've always rushed to be successful. What's the rush? Being successful early on gives you a headstart to achieve more in your lifetime, but what sacrifices are worth making in order to get ahead? When do those shortcuts start backfiring on you? I could save two minutes each morning by not brushing my teeth, but my breath will stink and my teeth will rot, which will have deeper health implications later on. There are some sacrifices worth taking, but there are also some which bite you in the butt in short order. This ideal of success was definitely forced on me by my dad. I feel like I skipped out on socializing in junior high and high school. Sometimes people in church want to separate you from the bad influences, which is why I had to go to youth group instead of hanging out with my friends. Couldn't I have just gone out with them on different nights? Technically yes, but I wasn't allowed to go then either. How can you talk to people about Jesus if you don't have good social skills or relationships with people outside of the church? We also weren't allowed to play video games because it was apparently guaranteed that we would become addicted, even though all of my friends in university played games all their lives and still got better grades than me. I had a harder time in school because I spent about three to four nights a week doing church activities, which at its peak was split between leadership meetings, band practice, small group, and youth group. Not to mention that whenever I did manage to hang out with my friends outside of that, my parents would call to check in constantly with my friends (I didn't have a cell phone) just to tell me to come home. That's all to say that my dad tried to prioritize my future by forcing me make certain sacrifices, but at the same time, he added extra challenges on top of that. I'm already successful in my own way now, and the idea of success itself needs to be challenged. I have what I need to get by, and that is enough. I'm happy with my life, and that's a truer meaning of success. Now I can simply enjoy each day.

I recognize that I've arrived in a lot of ways. Surely I'm still near the beginning of my career, but I own real estate, I'm married, and I have a job. What am I rushing towards? Especially now that Carrie's done school, there's nothing left to do but go through the daily grind. I can simplify my life, and a lot of that means to stop rushing towards some imaginary ideal of success. It also means that I should keep writing even though my world isn't falling apart anymore.

Now that I'm simplifying my life, I end up doing a lot of nothing. It's boring. Instead of squeezing every available minute out of my 3D printer, I leave it alone so that the home can be quiet and peaceful. I could clean up after doing every little thing at home, but I can get around to it later. Or Carrie can pick up after me.

Be

I reached my zen this week. There was this moment where I was at home, and it just hit me that I didn't have anything to do. I've been in this position many times before but mostly when I didn't feel like working on my to-do list. This time, however, I legitimately didn't have anything to do because Carrie had taken care of everything. Lately, she gets bored and then finds something to work on. The place is super clean now, and all our errands around town are getting done super quickly. Now she's the one at home receiving packages from Amazon. With her contributions, I reached a level of relaxation I haven't known in years. It felt great. Sometimes when I have to make a coin toss decision, I refuse to make a choice and instead dig deeper to find the underlying causes so I can make an informed decision. An example of this is picking a place to eat. From all my time being unemployed and even when working from home, I could eat just about anywhere I wanted. Now I get really picky and waste a ton of time and energy on a really basic decision. It's wasteful. Alas, this refusal to toss the coin transfers to how I used my free time. I always needed to be productive. I needed to maximize my relaxation or optimize my leisure activity. Wrong, wrong, wrong. During the zen moment this week, I dropped everything and simply relaxed. I existed. I was. It's like in The Matrix when Morpheus was training Neo in that dojo area. "Stop trying to hit me, and hit me!" For me, it sounded more like "Stop trying to relax, and relax!" I breathed more deeply than I have in I-don't-know-how-long. I turned off the TV, put away the headphones, and I just laid in bed and appreciated the moment. This is a good sign.

One of the self-care skills I learned in counselling is containment. It means to put my feelings into context and to take a break from them whenever I don't want to deal with them. I wasn't able to contain my emotions from last summer to this past April because my life flew off the rails, but now, all the sources of my grief are gone. There's nothing to manage now, nothing overwhelming to contain, so I'm in an even better state than when I practised all those skills. It's like the difference between fans celebrating their favourite sports team winning in the playoffs versus consoling themselves and celebrating the little victories. Saying all that matters is that they had fun, that they tried their best, they put in 110% and executed play by play. In my case, I'm not losing anymore. I don't have to budget my willpower between self-care, coping, or overcompensating for wild emotions. Even as I practised these coping skills to address my anxiety, there was a part of me that didn't really believe myself when I said that everything would be okay or that it was alright to feel overwhelmed. The war is over, so I can stand down now.

Seeing as I'm not battling overwhelming feelings anymore, I'm able to bring the fullness of who I am to everything I do. I feel more in sync with myself now that nothing is tearing up my heart. It's a bit of an adjustment with my first time working in a mall, but I'm embracing it. I'm practising a lot more people skills than I ever have in previous positions, which will help with my social awkwardness. Trauma is described as a separation of the soul from the body, and now that I've worked through a bunch of my childhood trauma, I feel more in tune and in harmony with myself. The wounds aren't fully healed, but they might as well be. A similar situation is how my surgery scar from last September healed up nicely after six weeks according to the surgeon, but to this day it still feels bizarre because it's tighter than most of the skin around it. That's how I would describe my emotional scarring. The wounds are closed up enough for me to live a normal life again, but it's still noticeable. Emotions do come up a bit when I think about what caused all that pain, but it's basically nothing compared to before I started counselling.

I'm still drained. There's so much transition that, after work, I pass out for hours and I'm still tired enough to sleep at my normal bedtime. I thought I would start working on my eating habits once Carrie graduated, but that's too much effort at the moment. I might just try drinking more water than fizzy sugar water, but that is already a lot to attempt. My shoulder injury is getting better with physio, so I'm back at the gym early in the morning again. There's room on my plate again to take risks. I got some flashy new shoes, Air Jordan 1's. I still got them in muted colours, but I'm slowly making my way towards dressing more confidently. I picked up some high quality Smithbilt cowboy hats which were significantly discounted, so I no longer need to find discarded ones on the concrete during the Stampede every year. Another sizeable risk I'm taking is buying a bunch of parts for my 3D printer. There are still quite a few upgrades that I can make to improve the print quality, and I just bought a few parts to do some of those upgrades. It means stopping all prints until I'm adjusted to the completely new set of parameters, so even though I've always wanted to get these superior parts, I haven't had the stomach for the work involved until just recently. I wrote a few weeks ago about how I would still push myself to about 90% of my capacity even after the shitstorm ended. That's held true for these past two weeks. I'm a lot less tired and overwhelmed than before, but the activities that contribute to it are very different. Now that I'm not being forced to deal with my emotional problems and childhood baggage, I'm finding new trouble to get into. Some of them are actually fun instead of being stressful, so it's a better kind of tiredness. Don't get me wrong, I'm still overdoing some things like stretching my muscles so hard that I can't move, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of stretching. I'm still the same Jon you know and love that's always on and generally too much, but I'm slowly improving.

I know a lot of this seems basic, but I find that the most basic truths are the hardest to do. Understanding them is no good if we don't live them. I gave up so much of my health during school that I vowed to relearn how to human after I graduated. One of those projects is to correct my posture. I feel like I have so many issues. Flat feet with the most pathetic arches one hockey skate salesman ever saw. My left hip bone is rotated because my hip flexors are so tight from sitting so much. I injured my left shoulder because one of my bones is also twisted out of alignment from my pecs being small and tight, caused by sitting hunched over a desk. My shoulder joint would pinch a tendon whenever I raised my arm a certain way, leading to searing, white-hot pain. My traps store(d) my traumatic energy, so they always have a number of knots in them somewhere. Apparently my hamstrings are also so tight from oversitting that my medial glute muscles are atrophied from doing nothing at all. My back is arched in the wrong direction. My terrible forward, closed posture accentuates my belly, making it look bigger and rounder than if I sat and stood straight up, contributing to some self-esteem issues. I'm done working on the emotional symptoms of my childhood trauma, so now I'm focusing on the physical ones. Lots of stretching and strengthening antagonistic muscles. There's no shortcut here. I have the equation nailed down and lots of great insights from my physio, skate salesman, massage therapist, podiatrist, doctor. Now I just gotta work at it and keeping chipping away at the problem. Simple and basic, but not easy.

Compound interest is built into our problems. If we procrastinate dealing with them, they snowball and get out of control. I dove headfirst into my emotional problems, but now I have to correct various aspects of my physical posture so that my default way of being doesn't crush me. Similarly, my emotional posture used to be ergonomically unsafe for me, where my default responses to problems contributed to other problems. Getting a trained and certified professional to look at the issues objectively helps me to adjust every day. When the physio digs into my pecs to loosen up the fibres pulling my shoulders forward, it reminds me of when my counsellor would skillfully navigate my beliefs and values surrounding my abuse. Sometimes she would be gentle, but sometimes she would confront me and stop me from hurting myself further. The manifestations of the abuse I endured are all interconnected, physically and emotionally.

Digging into the source of why I injured my shoulder at the gym about a month ago, I discovered that I was rushing to reach to my health and appearance goals. Why did I feel this way? Since I've been inconsistent with my health previously, I unknowingly assumed that I would always continue to be inconsistent, so I had to squeeze all my workouts into those few sessions where I did manage to get to the gym. The mentality of "you're lazy, you're not trying hard enough, just do it" is unhealthy and it just doesn't work. Instead of trying harder, I should have focused on viewing the issue holistically. Zooming out to perform a root cause failure analysis. I tell myself all the time that my only aim is to get to the gym. Setting a smaller goal makes it easier to reach the full one. If I'm already at the gym, I might as well do something. My previous attempts at getting healthy were motivated by willpower alone, so when I ran out, so did my routine. Instead of putting a band-aid solution over the problem by simply trying harder and forcing it, I'm addressing the matter of consistency and rely on zooming in and out, which in this case means the compound interest of making it into the gym. I'm backing up the car and finding a better route forward. Compound interest got me into this mess, and it will also get me out of it.

Be. In response to doing too much, I'm being. Taking a moment for myself every morning before the hustle and bustle of the day rushes in. If I don't do it first thing in the morning, it takes progressively more energy to pump the brakes the longer I wait. I've only been doing it at the end of the day if I'm still feeling way too amped up, but I try to do it every morning. Call it the calm before/after the storm. (Isn't it generally calm whenever it's not stormy?) From the Brad Pitt article last week, one of the many things I liked was how he makes a fire every morning and night because it pulls him into the moment, to contextualize and contain the day. An extension of that is when he's in the workshop and has to clean up at the end, no matter how chaotic or tidy the day's work has been. Even though I do supportive things in the morning like making a protein shake, listening to my audio Bible, and going to the gym, the aim should be to pause and collect myself before embarking on my day. Sometimes I forget to take that moment and I rush to start a 3D print or to weigh myself and get dressed, and then before bed, I won't really know what I did because it'll all feel like a big blur. When I'm at home, I work in spurts of 30 minutes. I was wandering around the neighbourhood this week on a gorgeous day, and I stumbled into an art gallery close to home. I didn't really know what to expect, and while most of it didn't really speak to me, I saw this hourglass that just grabbed my attention. It was built to last for 30 minutes, which is perfect. I normally ask Siri to set a timer, but this (half-)hourglass is way more soothing, especially when I'm on a roll while I'm writing. It really pulls me into the moment, and I think it's brilliant. I'm still learning to take the hour or so at night to get ready for bed. That involves refilling the humidifier, doing my stretches, flossing, and too many others things. When I'm still too agitated to sleep, I'll keep coping with some combination of brightly lit, rectangular screens until after midnight. If I'm feeling emotional, I'll take a shower. I suspect that preparing for bedtime is part of the catharsis, so reinstating my bedtime alarm should help that cause. Starting and ending the day with a pause for maximum success. Be.

I reached my zen this week, and I'm aiming to stay in that zen zone by pausing every morning and night. I'm not being steamrolled by life anymore, so now I can tire myself out with all this room for activities. Now that Carrie is taking care of a lot more, I'm free to be.

Further Reading

Didn't have time to write this weekend, so I offer these materials instead.

Brad Pitt Talks Divorce, Quitting Drinking, and Becoming a Better Man

From this article, Carrie saw a lot of me in Brad Pitt. Doesn't everyone already?

Kafka’s Remarkable Letter to His Abusive and Narcissistic Father

Reading it triggered me because of how similar my experience was. Victims experience different things based on where the narcissism comes from: parents, siblings, extended family, grandparents, partners, coworkers. If you're looking for an alternative take on my relationship with my dad, this article was too real for me to read completely.

The Realities of Going No Contact with Abusive Family

I got thrown for a loop when I visited my extended family in LA regarding why I cut contact with my immediate family. This article grounded me in why I'm entitled to protect myself.

CJSW Presents Listener Appreciation Week Special Edition 2

My portion comes in around the 40 minute mark and goes for 15 minutes. We talk about surviving trauma and navigating the health system.