If This Were Your Last Moment

Hello, and happy Monday! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t exactly happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, a reset of sorts, every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Stop, breathe, look around
and embrace the miracle of each day,
the miracle of life.”

// Jeffrey A. White

Sometimes I do this thing where I pretend that I was popped into existence just this moment and in seconds I am going to pop back out. This moment and whatever setting I am in, whatever people are around, and whatever thoughts and feeling I have are all I’m ever going to have. I look around and wonder if this was the last moment I was ever going to have, would it be enough?

It may sound like a strange or even morbid practice but forces me to be mindful and to take quick stock of my life and where I am at. Every time I have don’t this I have found that instead of being disappointed by wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I feel grateful and I see more beauty around me than I otherwise would.

In those moments I realize what is important to me, and it is always surprising. It doesn’t matter as much how many adventures I have had because if I were to pop out of existence just now, none of it would matter to me anymore. What matters is who and what I am leaving behind and who and what I will spend my last moments seeing. I thank the universe I got to be alive at all and hope the people who will live after know I loved them with every part of my being.

Then I pop back into being regular old me, feeling my regular old feelings about my life. I still feel guilt, and shame, and regret, and jealousy only now it’s a little less.

It’s a useful practice and gives me a bit of perspective, but it would probably be exhausting to live every moment of your life that way. For all the woo-woo talk of the “enlightened,” I don’t think the average person can or should. What I think this practice does is teaches your brain that it is okay not to spend so much time “elsewhere.” On what you wish you had, or what you hope you have, or what you shouldn’t have done, or what others think. None of this is now, and none of it is helping you.

None of this will matter when your last moment comes.

What matters, what I think and what I hope will matter in the last moments is the beauty and miracle and love of it all, and all of that surrounds you every day, you only have to get outside of yourself and the bullshit. Sometimes you have to see a patch of grass, or a cloud crossing the sky as the miracles they are. Hear your breath, feel your heartbeat, listen to the voices around you and remember how rare it all is. This world, you, and whatever you are doing, are some of the rarest things in the universe.

Of course, life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. This sink full of dirty dishes, this pile of work on my desk, and the complaints and critiques we hear in meetings and at home don’t feel much like miracles or wonders of the universe, but they are. You don’t have to love them, in fact, I encourage you to do what you can to change what you don’t like, but you still must acknowledge the beauty of every moment and the privilege you have to be there to experience it.

These unpleasant moments usually come and go either unnoticed or unwanted. I moan about my life too and wish it were something else until I force the realization that this is the only life I have and it is a very beautiful and special one, especially when you consider that there are so many who get no life at all.

There are vast stretches of the universe where no life exists. There are some who had life yesterday and don’t today, and there are many who aren’t alive today to see what you do but will be another day when you no longer are.

This week, just take a few moments from time to time, to look up from your screen and find some beauty and wonder around you. It is there, I promise, no matter how much you hate work, or your commute, or coming home to dirty houses, grouchy spouses, or demanding children or pets. I promise there is are wonder and beauty to be found, in this moment and throughout your life.

Take time to find the good, and work on making more of it, slowly, every day, every minute, when you can. Imagine what would matter, how would you feel, or what you would look to if this moment was all you had.

Maybe another day at the office isn’t the worst thing. Maybe a patch of grass is a miracle. Maybe the swirling dish water is beautiful. And maybe every human you know is the most important thing in the universe and you should feel grateful, special, honored, to be a witness to such marvelous and transient moments.

Attention must only be paid to what is around you, now.

***

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People are People, Just Like You

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

People are simple, and stupid, and complex, and feeling, and wise, and fallible, and beautiful, and dark, and ugly, and so much more than we can ever convey with words. We know this because we know ourselves and deep down we know other people feel and think and go through what do, even though we rarely act like it.

We know we have rich inner lives, profound thoughts and feelings, shades of emotions, wants, and needs that language can scratch the surface of. We know there are reasons behind everything we do that rarely ever fall fully to one side of good or bad, selfless or selfish. There are more shades of human motivation and reason than there are stars in the universe or grains of sand on every beach but humans aren’t good with subtle shades of being or thinking.

We know that our psyches are deep and varied and we know that because of this, because every thought and action and all that we are is a product of all we have been through and sometimes all that many generations before us have been through, we know we are deserving of understanding and patience. Somehow, we know this, but at the same time, we know that other people are simple beings with simple and often nefarious motivations for doing what they do.

We forget that people are people, all over the world and all throughout time, same as we are.

They have the same thoughts, the same questions, the same failings and triumphs, the same daily, grueling, inner struggle between who they are and who they ought to be. They share the same complex inner life and painfully vague understanding of why they do what they do. They are hurt and hoping and fucking up, and we should be working harder to understand their needs and motivations, the way we would ask them to do for us.

We are too quick categorize and condemn each other in ways that are radically different from how we think of ourselves. They are mean. They don’t care. They aren’t good enough. They are stupid. They are trying intentionally to sabotage and set me back. They are the enemy, but it isn’t so simple. They are human, and so are we, and they do all the things they do for the same reasons as us. Because they don’t know any better.

 

Of course, in all the ways we are the same, there are as many ways in which we are different, and that is where the work of understanding happens. Besides the fact that we all come from different places and were born in different times, besides the fact that each of our parents was raised in a time with different struggles and different values, besides the fact that no two perspectives can ever be the same, we all simply have very different brains. We have different thoughts, needs, motivations, wants, and ideas about right and wrong and every shade in between.

Even on our best days, when we are listening well and using language as precisely as we can, no human language is articulate or exact enough to ever explain who we are, what we feel, and what our motivations and reasons may be. Each of us no matter how we reach out and to how many is alone within our own minds. We can never be understood and we can never fully understand, but we can try harder, and do better, and stop treating each other like simple beings and react with simpler solutions and emotions.

This week, before you judge who is right and who is wrong, who is worth listening to, and who is worth compassionate understanding, or friendship, just know that each person you encounter is a complex mix of history, culture, experience, emotion, and wisdom that you will never fully comprehend.

We owe it to ourselves to treat one another better. To owe it to each other to understand each other better. To step into each other’s shoes isn’t so hard when you stop acting as if you are the only one who can be right, who can be hurt, who can have needs, or can make mistakes.

This week, try to understand that you have no right to presume to know who a person is, why they do what they do, how they ought to act, or what help they need or don’t. Get to know people and do the hard work of letting them exist on a spectrum rather than at the easy to categorize extremes.

This world has become far too black and white, I’d love to see some grays, and one day, when we are better people than we are now, we might even be comfortable with color and hue and brightness too.

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If We Were Having Coffee // It’s My Birthday Month, and I’m Starting Again

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”

— David Lynch

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. I probably shouldn’t be having coffee, the caffeine and the acid are probably the last things my stomach needs, but I’m at home today, and coffee means a lot to me, so I will drink and deal with the consequences later. I know it will be worth every sip.

I know I haven’t  been around much lately, and we will get to why in a bit, but before we do I wanted to warn you that today’s post might contain some TMI subjects and descriptions and a bit of bad language. If you don’t want to hear that kind of thing maybe skip ahead a bit or skip away, I won’t mind I promise.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week was fucking awful.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I know you, and everyone else, me included are probably tired of hearing me talk about my health and my medication and my anxiety and my hope that any day now I will start to feel better. You are probably tired of hearing week after week that I am still sick, but here I am telling you once again that I am still sick. Not just still, I’m actually worse and getting more and more worried as each day goes by.

Since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis, my whole life feels upended. All I can think about now is my stomach, and bathrooms, and what foods I can and can’t eat, and whether or not I can work today, and when my next doctors appointment is, and if this new pain is due to the disease or my medication, and what medication I am on and what medication will come next if this one doesn’t work, and whether or not I should call my doctor, and whether or not this is serious, and if I’m sleeping enough or too much, and oh god I have to go to the bathroom, again, again, again, again…..This is my life now, and there has been no room for writing anymore.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I feel overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t been able to do or finish because of all of this. I haven’t written a new post here in days, and the comments are piling up. I failed the Blogging A to Z Challenge before I was able to really get going. I’ve missed submission deadlines, and I haven’t sent a newsletter in weeks. I’m so far behind I don’t know where to even begin to catch up, but I want to.

I want to find a way back to doing all the things that made me feel good. I want to find a way to get back to telling my story and spreading my message. I want to finish what I started, so I am starting again.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I think my first two Blogging A to Z posts turned out pretty good, and even though I couldn’t keep going I haven’t gotten over my need to talk about all the bad things in the world. So, I am picking up the project again and combining it with another project I can never seem to get my shit together enough to finish. I am going to make a zine/chapbook from the posts!

I have no idea when the thing will be done, now that I have given myself permission to work outside of the April deadline but I’d like to have a draft done by the middle of may. This will be my first physical thing I am making so please be patient, but I am promising that this thing will be a thing and I will keep you posted if you promise to keep me accountable.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my birthday is coming up this week and despite everything, I am still excited. It’s not a big birthday, I’m just turning 32, but it’s my day and I take it very seriously. I like to think of the entire month of April as the time to celebrate me. I mean, your birthday is not just the day to mark when you came into the world but a time to celebrate another year that you got to be on this Earth. What could be more important?

I always think about how each birthday could be my last and it feels wrong not to make each one meaningful no matter how hard aging is or how depressing or bad the year has been. When you consider that there are so many people who won’t be getting a birthday this year your perspective changes. You realize that each one is a gift and worthy of celebration.

This year, like every year, I’ll be making time for dinners and drinks with family and friends and a bit of quiet reflection on the past year and planning for the next. I don’t ask for or expect gifts, I just want to see all the people who make my life meaningful but I know my girlfriend got me something good, she always buys the best gifts, and I’m anxious to find out what it is.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have come to the end of my cup of coffee and, sadly, the caffeine has done nothing for my energy levels. I need a nap. Thank you for chatting with me, it’s been good for me to get up and get typing again. I hope to keep the momentum going.

I hope you had a good week, and that your weekend was a relaxing one. If you have a minute drop by the comments and let me know how you have been and what you have been up to.

Until next time :)

An early birthday present to myself, from myself 😊 #sagavol7

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

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If We Were Having Coffee // Spring Break Started Early!

“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”

Richard Brautigan

Hello, dear readers. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. I almost didn’t make it today! Fatigue is kicking my butt, and my medication still hasn’t taken effect yet, and that means I slept most of the day away.

The clouds outside aren’t helping. It seems our warm, dry weather streak is over.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that thanks to the break in the warm, dry weather I got an extra day of spring break. The local news predicted blizzard-like conditions, so school was canceled which means I got to stay home too.

But here in Denver, Colorado what happens in one part of town can be very different from another. Some parts of the city got hit bad, in my area we got mostly rain, and by early afternoon the slush had melted and dried. I have a feeling out district will take a hit with the public for this one, but it won’t matter. It’s hard to decide whether or not to brave the conditions and hope for the best. The public forgets that safety is most important, especially in the Transportation department.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though it’s officially spring break, I still have to work but it’ll be easy work: organizing, filing, spreadsheets, cleaning up, that sort of thing. I can’t exactly afford to lose five days of pay, but I can afford to lose some, so I’m just working six hours a day, and only three days out of the week, Monday thru Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday, my girlfriend and I are planning a day trip out-of-town and a day in-town. Thursday we’re heading to Denver Art Museum for a very geeky Star Wars costume exhibit then out for seafood and sangria. Friday we’ll be heading up to Boulder for the day. I’m not sure what we’ll do up there, but I’m hoping for lots of shopping and more good food.

***

Last week wasn’t so bad. My route wasn’t running, and I managed to steer clear of having to do extra work, so that was good. I had hoped to spend all that free time working on a whole bunch of writing projects but, it turns out, I only had time and energy for one.

I entered a fiction contest at The Writing Collective. You can read it if you like but it isn’t my best work. I found out about the contest a little late and between work, my guts still acting up, and a last-minute dinner and drinks date with a cousin who got laid off from work, I didn’t have time. I wanted to give up, but I thought maybe I should try anyway. I thought I should do my best and see what happens. *shrug*

I also finished my first submission for Aloe. I’ll be submitting it today, but there is no guarantee of acceptance. If they agree to publish it, I’ll wait a few weeks before working on another. If they don’t, I’ll get started right away on another.

I’m hoping that this week I can finally get back on track around here. I have a ton of drafts to finish and the A to Z challenge is just around the corner, and I have barely got any ideas together. I have a theme, which I have yet to announce, another thing I’m behind on, but I have nothing written and a few letters lacking a topic.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we’ve come to that time, I have to go. After spending the day in and out of naps, plus sweating over cleaning and writing, it’s time I took care of myself. I’m thinking a nice cold hard cider and a long hot shower, at the same time!*

I hope you had a great week. I hope your weekend was nice and relaxing. I hope you’ll take a moment to drop by the comments and let me know how you are doing and what you’ve been up to.

Until ext time :)

*Some might consider a “shower cider” to be outside the spirit of the “shower beer.” Unfortunately, beer doesn’t agree with my stomach so cider it is and I don’t care what those people think.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

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If We Were Having Coffee // A Bad Week that Wasn’t so Bad

“A friend of coffee is a friend of mine.”

― Death Wish Coffee

Hello, dear readers. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up with me. I did my best to get going early this morning. It helped that I had to be up anyway. My stomach waking me up every morning around 5:30, just in time for medication and work, is my new normal. Unfortunately, my gut isn’t aware that it is the weekend, so here we are. The weather is gorgeous so I have the windows open and the cold brew already made.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was not the best but sometimes when you get through a bad week, when you do your best and get everything done that you needed to, it feels like a good week anyway.

Work was frustrating. I can’t go into a lot of detail but imagine if you had a goal or task that took place over the course of months every year. Imagine are awesome and complete your tasks on time, every year. Then imagine that instead of getting to celebrate, relax, or move on to the next task, you were reminded by your boss that you were part of a team and that your job was to complete the work of other employees who hadn’t completed their tasks, every single year! It’s infuriating! But I’m taking care of myself. I set boundaries. I’m not going to stress myself out or overwork myself to complete this task.

But I’m taking care of myself. I set boundaries. I’m not going to stress myself out or overwork myself to complete this task. The get a couple of hours, two days a week, and that’s it, and from now on, instead of just checking in with my team, I will check in with other teams so that I can be free in April, as was always my goal.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week was a slow writing week. For most of the week, when I wasn’t working, I was just too tired. My health still isn’t back 100%, which reminds me, I finally had a consult with my GI doctor a whole month after my diagnosis! I’m angry it took so long, but I’m happy to have more information and a plan. It also helped that she started out by apologizing.

I’ll be honest, though, a lot of what she said was a bit depressing. She really made sure I understood that ulcerative colitis is for life. I can never stop treatment, and I can never lose my insurance. If I lose insurance treatment becomes too expensive. If I stop treatment, it may not work when I have to start again, and I will have to start again because ulcerative colitis is for life.

So, I’m back on the steroids, but at a lower dose, and an anti-inflammatory drug that I will take every day for the rest of my life. It will take a few more weeks to know for sure whether this plan will work or not but I’m hoping it will. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll have to move on to harsher drugs, and no one wants that. I’d much rather be taking these pills then giving myself injections or going in for infusions every few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that even though I didn’t post much, a few writing related things did happen. I had a piece published on Femsplain. I worked on a few things for Aloe, and, I found a fiction contest to enter if I can get my shit together.

I also changed a few things around here. Nothing big. I added a new page for work I’ve had published Elsewhere. I tweaked my About page and updated my Now page too, and I set up an account for donations/tips on Ko-fi. I don’t expect to get much now, but after I start working on some bigger projects I’m hoping to get a few bucks here and there to help keep my going. And finally, I spent a ton of time gathering ideas and information and talking with like-minded folks on both the Buffer Community and Femslack.

The Buffer Community is free if you would like to join but Femslack will cost you, or you can do what I did and write for them instead. It’s worth it!

It’s nice to feel like a part of a community—especially when it’s a secret “members only” one—and to know there are people I can ask questions of or vent to should I every need it. In fact, I’m thinking about setting up a community of my own in the future *wink, wink*

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week should be easier than the last, which means I plan to be hanging around here much more. I have a ton of comments piled up and awaiting replies—I’m so sorry!—and a few posts drafted and waiting to be shared. I want to catch up on the comings and goings of my blogging friends and find some new ones to follow too.

It’s the last before Spring Break too. I don’t have any big plans yet, but my girlfriend and I are hoping to find something big to do. We’d love to get out-of-state for a few days, but I’d settle for just out of the city if I could. Even that might not happen, though. We need a dog sitter first and our usual, my little sister, has school that week. Sigh.

I can’t tell you how badly I need this vacation. I am going crazy doing the same things day in and day out with nothing new to stimulate or inspire me. I don’t care what we do or where we go as long as it is away from work, home, and everyone I know.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, sadly, we have come to that time. I love chatting with you all and if given half a chance I could probably go on all day long but there are rooms to clean, pets to care for, and shopping to be done, not to mention all the writing itching to get done. So, I’d better get off the internet and out into the real world.

I hope you had a wonderful week I hope you had a relaxing weekend too. Please, take a minute to drop a note in the comments and catch me up on everything that has been going on.

Until next time 🙂

I don't understand how she can sleep with her nose buried in her own ass like that 😝

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or buy me a cup of coffee perhaps? 

Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Unsplash

The Week’s End // A Roundup of Interesting Reads

Hello, friends! If you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are some things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share:

@refinery29

Trump takes on the most vulnerable.

The Mad King

Is America Great Again Yet?

The Death of Compassion

Plan B?

Brown Girls

Aging is a pain.

A brave girl, one very rare side effect.

Sometimes doctors are stupid too.

In another timeline

What to read next.

@threadfamous

Have you read, watched, or written an interesting thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out :)

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This list was originally sent out along with this morning’s newsletter: My Body Fell Short, along with a few existential thoughts from me. Check it out and subscribe!

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The Week’s End // A Roundup of Interesting Reads

Hello, friends! If you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are some things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share:

Believe.

Segregation never stopped.

Use what you have.

Promises or Lies?

More lies.

It’s never 9 to 5.

Obama.

A reading list.

Entering white spaces.

Let the men twirl.

Aaliyah + Rihanna

5287e6ac-d6bc-4424-9e4f-fc865f264242

Subtle Ceiling

 

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This list was sent out with yesterday’s newsletter Resist!. Check it out and subscribe!

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