Even if I have it now, doesn’t mean I’ll have it always
Patience is a funny noun, it’ll keep you waiting all day
This is not a commentary on the past year of the world’s history. We were all there. We know the deal. We lived through the contradictions. So much horror happened, and yet here we are, with not much changed from it. But that is not despite efforts and not without hope. To act and grieve and heal and change, we process. As much information and news and guidance and instruction as we physically can. With urgency and stress, with reminders for deep breaths and time away from the internet. In pages of books, in minutes of audio and visuals, in cupfuls of conversation. We process.
Processing does not achieve completion when you make the decision to do it. By definition, it means to perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on something in order to change or preserve it. Those series of operations may take an instant or a lifetime, they may complete in the now or near future or never at all. They can be overwhelming, at the best of times. That desperate need to understand, to empathize, to listen and learn and maybe, just maybe, help fix it. We have a long ways to go together, world. And that’s all I’ll say on that.
This is the first age that’s ever felt right when I approached it. All of the others felt like nothing more than a fact. Yes, I was born on that day x years ago, therefore I am x years old. It’s always taken me most of the year at a certain age to eventually grow into feeling like it, and then by the time I finally did, we had to bid one another a weary and wary farewell so I could set off to approach the next.
27 didn’t know what the hell it was supposed to be when I got to it. Slowly, urgently, it became nothing more than protective. That was an age of survival. There were no great gratuitous thoughts or lessons or wants or commemorations. I learned solitude and isolation in ways I never dreamed any of us would ever have to. The practice of connection became upended and redefined. There was comfort that this age bade me take in living and breathing and growing with the days. Practices in patience were born from stillness.
28, on the other hand, fits me like a favorite sweater. Like a song on Sunday morning radio, well-timed by the universe. It’s that first pull of an ice cold Budweiser, ink-stained fingers, and things yet to be determined. Despite all that’s happened, I am so incredibly happy to arrive at it, to stare at the very picture of new eye and nose wrinkles mirrored back upon me. Neither one of us knows what it will become, but it feels oh so right to be here together.
This year, I tell you of the many places I practiced patience, dear reader, in attempts to settle a disquieted soul. It’s a feeling I haven’t known for very long, but one that’s pairing well with the comfort, power, and peace of this (birth)day and age.
1. in late nights
A light sleeper with a restless mind does for disaster make. In other words, I’ve always had a hard time falling asleep. Since drastically cutting my caffeine consumption last year, it’s been constant experimentation to figure out why kicking off the first REM cycle is still so difficult for me. Exercise definitely helps, as does reducing stress at work and not bringing any electronics into bed. Drinking more water hasn’t done anything whatsoever for sleep or skin or energy or whatever the hell else it’s supposed to do, so don’t even go there. Take comfort in the fact that you’re all brainwashed liars. Or, or… I’ve been so chronically dehydrated for so long that the first few years of healthy hydration habits are just climbing me out of the hole. Either way, there’s been a lot of attention paid to sleep patterns around here lately.
Patience is being there with my body on the bad nights, accepting we’re only going to get a few hours, and finding something better to do with my time until sleep comes.
2. during dark days
For years and years I’ve been teasing a post or two about my personal mental health and wellness experiences, but I’ve never been able to get them beyond draft status (with those drafts started in 2015, yikes, what a journey it has been). It’s not always clear what triggers a dark day or few or many (cereal was a dangerous breakfast choice for a couple of weeks there), but I’ve been getting so much better at recognizing the warning signs. It can be hard descending into those days, and even harder climbing back out of them. There are all sorts of nuances to our mental states, with new arrivals from our varied environments on the daily.
Patience is in taking the cues.
3. in relationships
And I don’t just mean romantic ones. I’m talking platonic, familial, friendly, etc. relationships too. The older I’ve gotten, the more particular I’ve become with my interpersonal interactions. There have been many phases of communication that I’ve gone through over the years, and I think right now I might be in the best one yet. We’re not in great conditions to foster relationships the same way we used to, but there have also been so many opportunities to build and grow new ones through these shared experiences of living in a weird, weird world. There have been entries and there have been exits, but I’m thankful for each encounter.
Patience is in comfortable maintenance to see what grows, without trying to build out a watering plan.
4. with recovery
Last year brought a few different injuries and health challenges my way. Let’s say a torn hamstring and mild nerve damage, just to throw around a few examples. Professionals were brought in. Regimens were begun, then completed, then begun again. A lot of frustrated, defeated-feeling tears were spilled. It was a harsh acceptance that this is what happens when you get older. Or when other people make mistakes. You can’t get away with the same stuff you used to put your body through. And you can’t always foresee the things that might change it forever. But, somehow, at this moment in time, my body has never felt more known to me and I guess, above all, I’m grateful for that.
Patience is in recognizing that healing doesn’t happen overnight anymore, you have to put in work for it; you have to make changes, and sometimes those changes have to be permanent.
Listen Linda, I understand the modern wonders and achievements and all sorts of great things that the internet has brought to civilization (like my ability to listen to Florence on my electro typing machine while simultaneously writing this post), but I also think it’s caused a hell of a lot of harm and hurt and destruction. And I’m mostly referring to social media here. I try to be incredibly mindful of the ways that I use social media, and what value it may be offering back into my life. First we ditched the notifications, then most of the apps, then some of the accounts, and now we’re Pavlovianing ourselves to pick up a book instead. I just don’t see a lot of good in it anymore, only addiction and cruelty.
Patience is in recognizing detrimental attachments and making slow, conscious changes to alter patterns of behavior.
6. with food
My relationship with food has been… well, let’s just say that’s another dedicated post that I owe you. Add it to my tab, dear reader. At the start of the US shutdown last year, I went vegetarian. Then I went homegrown nutritionist in an effort to make sure I didn’t accidentally really mess myself up over that. Cooking is by no means a new hobby of mine, and I still feel the rituals of making and eating food are a gigantic waste of time, yet here we are. There have been a lot of new flavors and tastes introduced to me, and I’ve learned what it means to actually hate some of them, as opposed to never giving them a chance and saying that I hate them just because they’re not potatoes.
Patience is in the palate, and, more specifically, in its ability to change.
7. on the yoga mat
Remember the days when you could try out an advanced yoga class at your college gym and your biggest issue was not being physically coordinated or strong enough to hold a pose? Now, sub in a beginner class in your living room, and the biggest issue is a constant fear of injury (as aforementioned). Stretching is my preferred method of exercise, and yoga happens to fit that bill pretty well. Before the pandemic hit, I went hard in the basic and started going to CorePower with impressive frequency. I know, I know, but I loved it. Then we went into isolation, then I got hurt, then I had to start building my practice back up. There’s no rush in that, or so I have to keep reminding myself.
Patience is in persistent practice and making modifications as wanted, but also needed.
8. at the writing desk
What’s that? Three teased future post ideas she’s giving us today? That’s right. I have things to say about this one, too. I took a writing class last summer and I’d love to tell you more about that experience. A lot of progress was made in my personal writing practices. Routines were tried and found and set, then broken and missed and tried again. I’ve talked about my fear of getting back into writing before, but that fear has since slowly ebbed to reveal a woefully small amount of willpower in its place. There’s a lot of experimentation going on, and a lot a lot of learning. I tried writing poetry last year, friends. I know.
Patience is in knowing that I have many stories to tell, finding the mental spaces and dedicating the work to tell them, and not burning myself out before I do.
9. in processing
See entry paragraphs above. There has been a lot to try and take in, and I’m not only talking about on the world stage. I’ve also started trying to break down some of the feelings and experiences I’ve internalized throughout my life, which is what I imagine people go to professionals for. There’s a lot that we carry as people, and stack into our souls and beings, and accept as parts of us. But some of us never question why they’re there, or who or where they came from, or if we want to keep them at all.
Patience is in walking mental marathons.
10. at the bookshelves
Jeezy moe, there is so much to read. My appetite has been wholly renewed, thanks to an abundance of home time on my hands and a much more settled mental state. Last year brought over 50 books to the annual Learn A Book list, a metric I don’t think I’ve achieved since middle school. The To Be Read piles became To Be Read shelves, and the list of titles on them grew bigger than ever before.
Patience is in picking things up, putting things down, and knowing that moods will change to bring me back to them eventually.
11. in my closet
For the past few years I’ve wanted to overhaul my wardrobe, but I’m not really sure how to do that. Allow me to plague you with my plights for a moment. I don’t like fast fashion and I don’t want to support it. I hate clothes shopping and putting in the effort to get things tailored. I can’t sew and have no intention of learning. So, basically, I’ve been circling around and around ways to source new pieces while dealing that all of that. We’re headed for dark academia and we all know it.
Patience is in researching the things that I want, and accepting that the process is uncomfortable but not rushing myself through it because of that.
12. in my career
Things did not go as planned last year, and that was entirely outside of my control, but it also gave me a chance to really rework my perspective on my career. What I want from it, why I’m doing what I do, and, above all, how important it is for me to take time away from it.
Patience is in reminding myself of what I truly want from my life, and understanding that my job can be separate from, but still part of, that journey.
13. in new homes
There were other plans for last year that also didn’t happen, but have recently been picked back up. I’ll leave it at that for now, I think.
Patience is in making moves.
14. with my body
I’m still learning how to listen and watch. I’m still learning what it means to grow and get older. I’m getting wrinkles on my nose and the inner corners of my eyes. I’m getting softer in some spots, and harder in others. There are dimples in more places than just my smiling face. In all honesty, throughout my adolescence and young adulthood my body was always awkward and too skinny and I never felt truly grown into it. It was my vessel, but I avoided awareness of it at all times. Not anymore. I’m not sorry if you’re sick of hearing me marvel about getting to know this ol’ sack of skin and bones, because this awareness is all so new to me and I’m loving every second of it.
Patience is in inch by inch.
15. with heart places
Travel being put on hold made for a lot of meaningful places gone unvisited, or otherwise changing for the possibly forever without getting to bid goodbye to the bits I love best.
Patience is in remembering feelings of trips past, and thinking on them hard so as to bring some modified version into the safer, isolated present with lots of looks forward to full returns in future.
16. in habits
Building and breaking habits always reminds me of high school soccer conditioning. I absolutely hated it, but at the end of the season was I better off for it? Absolutely. Did I understand that keeping up with it would put me in a better place for conditioning next season? You bet. Did I keep conditioning? Not at all. People (scientists, allegedly) say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’m calling that one out as a lie too, but you may or may not be able to cite my aforementioned lack of willpower as a character flaw against me. There are a lot of attempts and routines flying around this here household, so keep an eye on the sky.
Patience is in not punishing myself for losing a day, but setting sights on the fundamentals and being flexible in that.
17. in hauntings
Of all sorts, really.
Patience is in manifestations.
18. with emotions
I’ve always been a highly emotional person. Uncontrolled, some might say (and have said). As a child and teenager and then young adult, there were a lot of pressures to suppress those emotions, which resulted in a lot of scars from family and friends and environments. There’s no one way to exhibit emotion. Everyone feels everything differently, and it’s ludicrous to me that we, as a society, have an unwritten rule book dictating when you can and can’t feel things, or how. Emotions are a spectrum with a lot of possibilities, and your girl happens to be on the highly dialed up side of every single one of them.
Patience is in making my own rule book, and supporting others in making theirs.
19. with brute force
This has been a semi-successful training exercise. I hereby admit that I am one of those people who believes it will be faster and more convenient to just brute force something. A plastic clothing tag, a bag of chips (you know the ones I’m talking about), packaging of any kind. Why take the time to get a sharp implement to assist? Well, here I am, many broken nails and paper cuts, much instant rage at failed attempts resulting in having to get a sharp implement anyways, later. It’s been a slow rewrite of my instincts so that my first impulse is to reach for those implements instead. Hulk smash.
Patience is in using brains and not brute force to achieve outcomes; it’s picking up the knife or scissors, or using a towel or running hot water over it, and it is not in breaking nails.
20. in unlearning
There are a lot of things that I took as facts and have since learned have been entirely distorted (and extorted). I’m only just starting to get comfortable with the act of questioning everything, and I mean everything. No longer accepting stories and information from the singular source, but taking in all perspectives and parties. Deconstructing what’s been in this brain of mine for quite some time, examining it, and making plenty of space for truth.
Patience is in becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable about it.
21. in learning
Similar to unlearning, there are a lot of stories and facts and lives and experiences that I’ve never had as part of my personal or formal educations. It can feel overwhelming, trying to find what to learn, from who or where, and how to learn it effectively. Some days it felt like there was no excuse for not knowing it all already, and others were a reminder that this is going to be a long road ahead, so it’s best not to sprint down the center of it. Take your time, explore all the cracks and crevices that the road has to offer, and don’t let other people make you feel bad for that.
Patience is in not expecting to pick it all up overnight, in not striving for perfection, and in accepting that no matter how much I learn I will always make mistakes; but I’ll learn from those too.
22. with my voice
There are so many times I think back on moments or meetings or conversations and wish that I had just shut up. I come out of them feeling like I hadn’t been myself. There’s a sense of regret over it, or at the very least a deep wish to go back and do things differently. It’s difficult to have a good grasp on how best to write or say the things we want to get across, and when we should write or say them. Each and every one of us can offer so much value to the world with our voices, I just happen to still be curating mine.
Patience is in pursuing the threads that feel right, like the ones that tell these tales.
23. with fears
Some of my deepest, darkest fears have started to shift completely of their own accord. Meaning there has been no direct confrontation made on my part in pursuit of conquering them. Some of these fears have been big pieces of baggage for me and mine, and I’m talking big like the outermost case in the matching set that no one ever uses because it would look absolutely ridiculous trying to wheel around, raising questions on if there’s a person in there. Explorations of new whats and whys abound.
Patience is in passive flexibility and changes that take you right along with them, whether you know they have or not.
24. with fate
Fate. The only Official Sponsor that Tales of Cass has ever had in almost 6 years of existing on the internet. Not everyone believes in fate, and that’s all well and good for you. I happen to believe in it pretty hard. Not so much in a religious sense, moderately in a spiritual sense, and mostly in a universal sense, if you get what I’m saying. There are many things I’m hopeful for, and I recognize that there are choices I can make to help them out along the way, but if they’re not meant to happen, they won’t. As Jay and Ray once said, que sera, sera, dear reader.
Patience is in whatever will be, will be.
25. in early mornings
Sunrise over sunset any day. My brain is most productive in the morning. From the moment I wake until the moment I sleep, my attention span is on a steady decline. It’s unfortunate that I’m cursed Queen of the Snooze (a title earned from years of getting physically out of bed every morning to snooze an alarm every 9 minutes for over 2 hours). There is hope here.
Patience is in trying every last technique until we find the one that sticks because you love mornings too much and good relationships take work (allegedly, we’re not sold on that one either).
26. in new moons
Confession: I’m not a full moon kind of woman. They bring too much energy, they’re too chaotic, it’s just not my thing. Instead, my astral adjacent affinity lies with new moons, most likely because I was born under one. They’re a time for reflection, a time to begin new journeys or goals or plans or dreams. When the universe feels most receptive and open, taking its rest and gifting us a guiding moment or two. New moons sigh soul breaths and stillness.
Patience is in the many ahead.
27. with years gone by
Back when we could travel, I rather liked to travel light. Physically, that is. Mentally, it’s always been a bit of a basket-full-of-rocks case. The more years we live, the more life experiences and memories we gather. That’s the point. But we don’t go through and clean through them as much or as well as we should. Memories of a hurtful or embarrassing or traumatic nature don’t need to come with us in our lives. It’s too cliche to say leave the past behind, so don’t do that. Select the good parts to bring with you, and lay the bad ones to rest in a mindscape of warm sunshine and frosted moonbeams. Or, drop kick them the hell out of dodge. To each their own, my friend.
Patience is in taking from my past what best supports me in my future.
28. in years ahead
More specifically, keeping myself from mentally living them out before they have a chance to happen. Not stressing over the futures that may be closed or closing to me with every passing day. We all do it. We think about the “what ifs” and the “could haves” and we build fake lives out of them – if only we went to law school, we could have… if only we worked harder in youth league soccer, we could have… if only, if only, if only. If only someone had asked me what I thought my life was going to be at 28 while I was writing 23 Thoughts. I can promise you I wouldn’t have said this.
Patience is in the twists and turns that are hidden by the shadows beyond life’s light, and knowing that it’ll shine towards them when you’re ready to finally meet.
Allow me to tempt my regulars with a quick bonus: