Slow Down, You Need It

Odin hits sciatica, sciatica hits back

Slow Down, You Need It
"2015-03-18c What do I do for self-care -- index card #self-care #happiness #comfort" by sachac is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Hello world!

This week has been the culminating whammy on three weeks of sciatica pain. Chronic illnesses are no joke, and I have a fair few of them, which is technically called having “comorbid” conditions. Generally speaking, one chronic issue flows into another, and together these all make life a little difficult sometimes.

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As someone who is relentlessly driven toward self-improvement, having to deal with these chronic issues is a bit of a nightmare. But, I’m forced to logically agree, they are also reminders of how much more I need to do in treating my body better.

I’d like a nice, long life. For one thing, I’ve barely scratched the surface of even a basic level of Maslowian self-actualization. And, because I live in a capitalist hellscape, I have a long way to go before I can reach proper subsistence as well. If I want to achieve my goals, and have time in this crazy life to enjoy them, I need to treat my body better.

This might be something you can relate to. After all, we human beings usually have areas of our lives that need improvement. And even when we try to ignore them, I believe we are usually aware (at least a little) what those areas are. In a strange way, I’m lucky: my body has always cried out quite loudly when I do things that are stupid, like fail to get enough sleep. When I was much younger and just started drinking, my body quickly made me realize that I was destined for the life of a teetotaler (lest I experience high levels of pain). My body has swift responses to the things that aren’t good for me.

But not everyone has that. Most people need to go through their lives actively trying to make good decisions. We know that getting ourselves addicted to cigarettes is bad. We know that we don’t want to drink as much as we do. We know that eating the last piece of cake isn’t an ideal choice… but we do these things anyway, and then we feel guilty.

The catch is that we’re not actually all that responsible for those immediate impulse moments. We are, in one sense: we have willpower. But, willpower is finite. And, if our willpower has been taxed in other ways, spent throughout our day or week on other areas of importance, we’re jut not going to be able to keep ourselves from doing that thing that we don’t want to do. Likewise, if we have patterns of reinforcement, which all of us have, from our families and life-systems… well, it’s even harder for our finite willpower to set us free. This isn’t even touching on things like the impact of physiologic addictions.

What I struggle with, most days, is chronic pain and chronic fatigue. The one feeds into the other, too. Even if my pain level is near-0, it might be enough to increase my fatigue to 10. Balancing my needs alongside my life goals is extremely difficult. Weeks like this, when the pain is ramped up so high, add a huge barrier between me and my better nature.

There are also studies that show that things like poor sleep, and pain, increase appetite and make us more prone to negative behaviors. As someone who struggles with weight issues, this is a major problem. Especially because being overweight dramatically increases the seriousness of all my various health concerns. The feedback loop is really difficult to get past.

So, the first thing I need to do is remind myself to have compassion for myself. Trying to find that pause point is the most important. It’s a step away from the feeling of “Ooh, god, I’m in this problem, and this problem is everything there is.” Once I get my head above the water, I can say, “Woah there, buddy… you’re in pain. Go easy on yourself.”

It’s a small bubble, a momentary gap between reality and my self-image. But even a momentary gap is enough. Just a single moment can lift me up above myself.

Usually, what comes next is self-care. That could be reading a book, or watching a show, or sitting outside for ten minutes to eat my lunch.

I’m also a huge introvert and thrive on free-stuctured alone time, and I know that giving myself some space for self-care can help lead me to the next most important step: creativity.

The most important thing I’ve ever discovered that helps me work my way through the difficulties of life is to create art. As a writer, that’s my main form of art creation. It’s also one deeply linked to my ego, to feelings of inadequacy, and to the desire for safety and financial security.

Sometimes it’s really hard to just sit down and write.

But, if I pause and give myself compassion, and then make sure to feed my creativity by giving myself a space of self-care, things change. Suddenly, I’ll find myself inspired to sit down and work on something. Suddenly, it becomes easier to see my way through the strange, dark woods of life.

There’s a terrible myth that creative types work best when we’re in pain (usually the emotional kind). People think of writers holing up in dank hotel rooms with several bottles of booze, slamming out the dark chords of their souls onto the broiling pages of their masterwork novels. But the truth of creation is something far different.

We do our best work when we feel safe. We live our best lives when we are loved. And the first step to both of those experiences is within ourselves. We have to give ourselves permission to feel safe, permission to feel loved. The next step is to dismantle the unjust power structures of a violent, fascist, and materialistic society… but that can’t happen until we start working on our own heads and hearts.

I spent most of today watching reruns of one of my favorite ridiculous procedural shows: Castle. The alone time I had watching that helped get me in the headspace to write this piece, and to think favorably on one of the novel projects I’ve been working on. It took a pause, a bit of compassion, and several hours of self-care to bring me to this point. But I managed it. And, now, I think I can manage even more.

Do you struggle with chronic health issues? Have trouble motivating? Share your story, and your successes, in the comments. I love reading your words.


Three articles for y’all this week. A big one about board games, one that’s a philosophical social piece, and one that focuses on the importance of better organizational structures in our lives.

Cool tools

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From the World

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Found on Mastodon.

I am so excited. Bill Watterson, who created my favorite comic book strip ever (Calvin and Hobbes), is releasing a new book. It’s something very different than what he’s done before, but it looks absolutely brilliant. The Mysteries By Bill Watterson Illustrated by John Kascht is: “a fable for grown-ups by cartoonist Bill Watterson about a long-ago kingdom afflicted with unexplainable calamities. Hoping to end the torment, the king dispatches his knights to discover the source of the mysterious events. Years later, a single battered knight returns.”

So, that’s huge news.

Here’s one of my favorite new Internet rants, for those of you who love truth and humor.

The incredible Senator Bernie Sanders has some important thoughts about where our country is at right now. He’s being pretty diplomatic here, considering how utterly annoying the interviewer is being. He’s continuing to focus on the things that matter. Like always, Bernie Sanders is fighting the most important fights of the modern age. Literally, no other politician has done more to save this country from its own follies, and I’m so proud that I’ve been able to support him in my small ways the last few years.

Thank you for reading Halvorson Times. This post is public so feel free to share it.

And finally, a fun little comic to wrap things up.

May be a cartoon of text that says "IT'S OK TO MAKE MİSTAKES. Everybody makes mistakes Grownups make mistakes. Parents make mis takes. oh Sarry yelled at You. Teachers make mistakes. spelled this word wrong Animals make mistakes. Bugs make mistakes. Oopsie. Aliens make mist mistakes. Rocks make mistakes. Wrong galaxy: I'm lost. Hey! Iwas growing here! Sorry! You've made mistake? RELAX. You are NORMAL. Plus, mistakes are great waY to LEARN. Elise Gravel"

Right, folks, that’s it for this week.

Please — go easy on yourself. And, if you can’t go easy, go as easy as you can. <3

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