I've been up and down the stairs more times than I can count this morning, splitting my time between uploading photos and attempting to get the oh-so-fickle coal stove going. It's warmer today than it has been, but the wind has picked up and it blows right through this house. Plus the coal stove does a great job of heating the second floor, where I'm sitting to write this. Anyway, in the process of uploading photos, I stumbled upon this image taken a year ago today:
Not a spectacular image by any means, but I thought a little comparison shot would be interesting.
(both images were shot from the sunroom, facing south-southeast)
I've realized recently that life is a whole lot different a year later. Everything last winter was a struggle - I had just started working at Olga's, after three months of post-Star Island unemployment. I was working totally inhuman hours (starting between 3 and 5am) and constantly fighting sleep deprivation. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, accomplishing any task or chore was a challenge, one I couldn't usually overcome. Winter came early and it was constantly cold in the house - lighting the coal stove was a steep, frustrating, and sometimes painful learning curve (have you ever been burned by a coal stove? Ouch!). Money was always a cause for worry: even with judicious use of the oil burning furnace, we must have spent at least $2000 to heat the house, and it wasn't ever actually warm. Basically there didn't seem to be much to feel good about, and even though I knew I was depressed, and despite all of Dano's encouragement to seek help, I just couldn't bring myself to do it for way too long.
Things aren't perfect now by any means, but I don't feel anything like I did a year ago. I finally reached out to a friend, who pointed me in the direction of ontological coaching. I'm not working with a coach at the moment, but I think it gave me some good tools and a new perspective. It especially helped me to compare myself less to others, which becomes a downward spiral, and is something that is still challenging. I've taken lots of smaller steps too - I started practicing Shiva Nata again (also, not really practicing it at the moment, but the beauty is that you learn through Shiva Nata that not practicing is OK), I try to get some kind of exercise everyday, at least a short walk to get some air, to move, to get out of my own head. I started drawing and journaling, which is a really great way to become conscious of details, to appreciate little things, to become more present. I take pictures more often, another way to become more aware and present.
I'm still working those ridiculous hours (but not for much longer!) I still have no idea what I really want to do with myself, at least not specifically. I still feel a little directionless, and sometimes get discouraged. Money is still tight, and it still seems like there's never enough time, and sometimes I still feel overwhelmed, by the unknown, by all the possibilities, by the huge distance it seems I still need to travel to get where I want to go. But it's so, so much better than it was and I'm so grateful to know that's it's possible to change, that things do get better.
There's more (isn't there always?) but I want to get this up and be able to devote my attention to other things, so this will have to do for now.