This Could Have Gone Better

Yesterday, as a continuation of Katie’s birthday, we went to a lovely tea room for lunch. It’s off the beaten path, located in a beautiful old house in a residential neighborhood. The place would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. Clearly the secret is out, though, because the place was doing a brisk business. We shared a pot of an herbal peach tea and each had a slab of apple pie.

Our main mission of the day was to visit the Yule Market. Because this is central Finland it’s all indoors, at the convention center. For me these markets, which include the Harvest Market in the autumn and the Country Market (for lack of a better translation of wemmi) in spring are about one thing: the spice merchant. High quality spices at a ridiculously good price. I show up with a list.

We had a great time, but there were a few things that could have gone better. Because it was Yule Market day, you could ride the bus for free if you wore a Santa had. Naturally, the buses were crowded. So were all of the stores. That’s exhausting for me. I not only have to watch where I’m going, I need to watch where everyone else is going. With my bad hip and balance issues, I don’t need someone to walk into me because they’re not paying attention and accidentally knock me down. With my size, I don’t need someone to suddenly step in front of me because they’re not paying attention and I accidentally knock them down. It’s stressful.

This Could Have Gone Better

It was a lot of walking. The bus on the way home was packed, and I ended up having to stand in the aisle. Normally I love public transportation, but when my hip is screaming and there’s not enough room to properly plant my feet and the city is filled with roundabouts, it’s not fun. By the time we got home, I couldn’t walk. My hip was locked up, I was in pain, and it took a Herculean effort to both sit down and get up from a chair. We’d bought a baguette while we were out, because I was planning on making spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner. I ended up heating some of the sauce we made yesterday, and we just scooped it out of bowls with hunks of the bread.

I’ve lived with pain for almost 40 years now, so I’m as used to it as a person can be. When it flairs up I not only have mobility issues, I find it difficult to concentrate. Meditation has helped on both fronts, to keep me centered and mostly-functional. List making and, more recently, bullet journaling has helped me to remember, from moment to moment, tasks to task, what I’m supposed to be doing. There are times, though, when the most productive thing I can do is just stop.

Just Stop

Not give up. Just stop.

Not refer to the list, or start writing down my thoughts in an attempt to organize them. Just stop.

Not switch to a task that I can do by rote, that doesn’t require brain power. Just stop.

I went, laid down on the bed, and tried to watch an insipid sitcom on my phone. Meditation would have required effort. After a few minutes I turned the dumb show off and fell asleep. Around 15 minutes later I woke up, still in pain but far more mentally alert. Then I referred to my list, and wrote down some open loops and uncaptured tasks. After that I did some mindless tasks that needed doing, that I could also do sitting down. Easing back into things, I was eventually able to get some writing done, and made my word count for the day.

It’s not always about taking a day off. Sometimes you only need to give yourself a moment instead of trying to push through.

What’s a Day of Rest?

There’s a lot on my plate today, but I’m better able to pace myself. I promised to look something over for a friend, and provide feedback, and thankfully I’m lucid enough to do that.  I have to send out a customer email as part of the marketing campaign for my latest release. Somewhere in there, I’m going to take a nap and make my daily word count.

As I write this I’ve already made our traditional Sunday breakfast (American pancakes with American bacon — yes, they’re called that here because there is a difference, on both counts) and consumed adequate amounts of coffee. There’s pear-sauce (like applesauce) simmering on the stove, because we love pears but never eat them fast enough. That’s going to become pear-sauce cake, but I probably won’t bake that until tomorrow or Tuesday. For Sunday dinner I’m making chicken soup with Thai tom yum spices. I’m going to bake curry-mango banana bread for desert because, again, we love bananas but on a week like this one where we’ve been running around a lot, we don’t eat them fast enough.

It is a day of rest, because I enjoy cooking. With my office in the kitchen, I can cook a little, then sit down and write a little. Do a few dishes until my hip hurts from standing, sit down a write a little. I’m pacing myself, and doing things that I love to do. Some people might focus on what they can’t do, whether that’s entire tasks they can’t perform or doing things in a specific way. I prefer to focus on what I can do. Even though I’m in pain today, if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t give up the fun we had yesterday, or the cool stuff I get to make today.

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2 Comments

  1. Agree with the focus on what you CAN do rather than the things that disability stops you doing bit. I do this to such an extent that many people do not realise that I am disabled. They’re surprised when I use the lift rather than the stairs, or that I cannot walk too far, or am worn out after delivering a lecture (one day I must learn how to lecture sitting down!). Dearly beloved says I’m good at hiding what I can’t do. It’s just that I’ve figured out workarounds for most of them. I cannot write longhand but can touchtype so notes are taken on a laptop, or just remembered and dumped out next time I’m by a keyboard. I know the layout of the building and know how to get everywhere effectively by lift… little things like that.

  2. Exactly so. People don’t see me struggling to do what I’m not capable of doing — because I don’t do those things! They might see me doing something in a strange way, but as I tend surround myself with polite people and fellow weirdos they rarely comment on it. I have begun to ask Katie for help more frequently, mostly because every time she hears me swearing in frustration as I struggle with something she says “Why don’t you just ask me to help you with that?”

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