ZONING OUT

Like: Not a thought in my head. For hours on end I can drift through the farm chores, talking to the dogs, directing cows, checking for weight gain and health, inspecting pigs and sorting chickens – all without a single useful thought. The interesting thing I have discovered is that if I do not mentally attach a word to an action my memory loses touch with it as well.  I become a slow moving runaway train on a mono rail. shadows-010

I think you have to know many good words to have good thoughts. But sometimes as I work on the farm alone I find I have no words at all.  No language. There is not a word in my head so I have no thoughts. I make decision after decision, going through my list for the day in a kind of fog. I was having trouble with retention, and found myself standing quite still looking at an animal or a gate wondering what I was doing next.

This lack of thought was leading me into a vague kind of depression.  But I could not identify it because I had no words.  All I had were feelings. Too full. Too slow. Holding hard to my temper. Getting fractious about things not going right. Empty. Homesick. Tired. Tired. Tired.

So, yesterday  I tried to wake my brain back up by challenging myself to do two things at once as often as possible.  Like boiling the kettle, while I filled the buckets,  eating my only breakfast (no second breakfast when I work  alone) while writing,  having laundry washing itself while I did the milking,  filling the hay feeders while I milked the cow, running the waters while I mowed the lawns.  But that was all too easy, I do that anyway.

 

shadows-011

So I tried combining two jobs. Creating the new piglet creep one bale at a time as I went to and fro feeding the pigs. As I carried dirty straw from Molly’s pen to dump in her garden I had to uproot one dead weed before picking up my fork and going back for another scoop.  Cutting and carrying armloads of willow to the pigs as I cleared under their electric fence. And I decided I had to finish both tasks at the same time before moving to the next two jobs. This was interesting because I had to plan the two tasks then focus hard on  not rushing away to do something else just for a moment then losing the thread.

I did find that my day was faster and more awake. But mostly doing two things at once meant that my day was jerky and harried and a little anxious as I asked myself is the water barrel filled, is the washing machine still, what is my next job.  Why can’t I find one decent pair of secateurs. How did I do. Fail or succeed?

And it is hard to review myself when i have no words.

Though I don’t mind a fail grade when I am only grading myself. If I fail and know it, it is easier for me to do it better.  Though I need my words to come back so I can make my plan for success.

shadows-007

But still I feel muddled. Out of focus.  No extra  thoughts. Just slow reactions. This fog is not lifting.  Like I can’t see clearly. I keep mentally squinting then wondering what I am looking for. I feel like Alex standing in a bucket of water – my head down and softly drifting from side to side. Hoof up, foot down, Left hoof up, foot down. First hoof up, hoof down. Making the water plop and gently splash.

I really am thinking like a cow.

shadows-004

Maybe I need more sleep. More water and more sleep.

shadows-001

However today I am going to continue with my challenge. Combining jobs. Even thinking of which jobs to combine is a good mental exercise.  Trying to break the pause that is opening up in my head.

This day last year – Poppy is the lady in waiting

The year before that – Look at this corn in 2015

And here is 2014. That was a rough fall. 

One more – 2013 Trying to take a decent photograph

We could go on but I have work to do. Talk soon. I will answer your comments while I drink my coffee!! The perfect combination.

I hope you have a lovely day.

celi

WEATHER: Still warm. Still clear.

Tuesday 09/26 0% / 0 inPartly cloudy. Continued very warm. High near 90F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.

Tuesday Night 09/26 20% / 0 inPartly cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 57F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.

Sun

6:44 am 6:42 pm

Moon

Waxing Crescent, 35% visible12:51 pm 10:53 pm

83 Comments on “ZONING OUT

  1. What you are describing sounds like chronic fatigue. This should not come as a surprise, considering how much you have to do and how hard you work. I wish I could just turn up with flowers, chocolate, a bottle or two of wine. I’d sit you down, and tell you that your next task is to demolish the chocolate and wine, enjoy the flowers and now, please take a large nap while I feed the animals.

    • What you are describing sounds like The Fairy Godmother. I wish you really could turn up with your magic wand & goodies & feed the animals. Celi needs a real Fairy Godmother right now it sounds like to me.

    • I’ll take the wine! Wonderful. But as you know I don’t like labels really. Like Depression or Fatigue. They are like boxes. Its actually OK not to cope perfectly well all the time. Quite normal. I am just trying a new trick to wake myself back up out of the September Slump. I love the challenge of “double multi tasking.”

      • I agree it’s good not to label, but I also think a little serious down time is good for us all from time to time, and I haven’t noticed any of that happening for you… sending you good thoughts, good words and good deeds in lieu of the wine.

    • I think you are correct- chronic and lonesome fatigue…..all your ideas are good and C should work in a good soak in a filled to the brim tub!

  2. Days are getting shorter – and because of that lots of people go into a depression because they know they have less work hours and more dark hours. And in your case – more COLD hours coming. It is 7:15 here and it is still ‘dark as the inside of a goat’ out. Three weeks ago, there was pink in the sky at this time.

    September is always a hard month for me and it sounds like this year – it’s hitting you too. Keep trying to fill your buckets with ideas and I’ll do the same.

  3. I am in a bit of a fog, myself. Much stress, much to think about. I, too, have learned to connect word to action if I want to remember. When closing up the buildings at work, I touch every cover I put onto enclosures and say “Boink!” If I get home and ask myself “Did you put the lid on the Radiata?” I think back and say “Did I boink it?” It helps.

    Rest, read, take care of yourself.

    • What a lovely idea! I need to do that when I turn the hoses off – so often lately I forget the BOINK!! Thank you – what you are you reading at the moment. i am reading ” My Grandmother said to tell you she is sorry” I must remember to put it in the LIBRARY c

  4. Yes – fatigue, and considering your temperatures, possibly dehydration and heat stress. Do LESS, not more. Take frequent breaks. Cold wet towel around the neck (my hubby dunks his tshirt in a barrel of water every half hour). Take care of you first, farm second.

    • After all, anybody who doesn’t take care of herself has nothing to offer anyone else, animal or otherwise. You said it, valbjerke!

      I’ve read some very serious and credible studies that indicate deliberately operating more S-L-O-W-L-Y not only allows one to be more accurate and detailed but also ends up, surprisingly, taking only the same amount of actual time, or often, less than usual. It’s certainly worth contemplating.

      I know that when I’m tired and unfocused or overworked and stressed, I simply make more mistakes and waste more time trying to undo or correct them, and feel more out of sorts about having been dimwitted on top of it all. So when I think I’m getting too little done or being too fuzzy-brained, that’s when I figure I’d better slow waaay down and let go of the nonessentials. Those around me have always survived, somehow, without my being all-things-to-everybody, and the world is still turning. Go figure.

      xoxo,
      Kathryn

        • What Sherry said!

          But also, and it may pain you to think of it, there’s the possibility of alternating days—or 2 days a week off, or whatever—with your various social media, which while they’re fun (I do know, from both sides of the connection!!), can be extremely demanding. They take time, skill, *and* focus, and all are valuable resources that you deserve to spend on yourself as well. As a theatre/performance veteran, you also know that the adage about leaving ’em wanting more applies to other parts of life, and blogs, Instagram, and websites, while they do ‘give back’ to a surprising extent, also have no feelings to hurt if left to wait for a day or more at a time. Heck, even we sensitive fans who hang on your every word and image care enough about YOU to think it a fair trade when you need (no, even when you simply *want*) a bit of downtime. The farm doesn’t hand it to you anymore than the online universe does, but by golly, animals and plants that are incredibly well cared for can also survive the occasional lapse of interventive attention that we humans give them amazingly well, if they’re set up for the short term.

          So yes, let your hair be wild, your clothes be shaggy, your house be dust-encrusted, and your dishes soaking in a tub for two days on end. Let the interwebs fall silent for three. Don’t even set up a guest blogger or gap-filler for those; they will take care of themselves and you can pick right up where you left off when you’re ready, and nobody in their right mind would criticize such compartmentalization.

          And even, sometimes, let the animals stay in the barn an hour longer waiting for you and the feed bucket and the $h!t shovelling and the wallow-refilling, sometimes. They are resilient and only the infirm require *absolute* constancy. Even the menagerie is sometimes the more appreciative if kept in the queue for slightly longer than usual, and that bit of added affection mightn’t be bad for your own spirits: it’s good to be reminded that you’re not only needed but liked. 😉

          All of this is purely speculative, both in terms of *what* you’d simplify or alternate or cut down, but it’s fair to say that absolutely everyone who makes a genuine effort in their lives needs soul-fuel as well as the more obvious sorts, and that anyone and anything worth our time and love and attention understands and accommodates that in his/her/its own way, even if a little put out about the inconvenience or unexpected absence of you and the luxurious servanthood you present for that small moment.

          But Permission to Exist and be Happy is the bottom line, for me. We all have to do it in our own ways and relish and find comfort in what suits us and our parameters best. I merely believe that most of us, including the ever-clever, amazingly wise Miss C, neglect the duty to self or let it be subsumed by our care for other beings a tad too often and willingly. Brain fog is okay, if it’s momentary (and doesn’t, as others have mentioned, indicate clinical issues), but it could be a tiny alarum to remind you that it IS permissible to slow down and shed some of the demands of your life, even ones you chose and committed your heart and soul to, if only for a little while.

          Love!
          Kath

      • In the last couple of years I’ve used the phrase ‘I can’t be all things to everybody all the time’. Last year I found myself going so fast for so many hours at a time I actually felt like I was physically vibrating during my waking hours. I also began to feel as though I might come unhinged. I tried in some vague fashion to get this across to my hubby – he finally said “if you can’t do something, then don’t!”
        ‘What do you suggest I ‘dont’ do?’ I asked – irritated that he actually thought it was that simple. “The milk – you can’t stay ahead of the volume of milk from the cow – there aren’t enough hours in the day to make that much cheese – skim the cream and pitch the milk out until you have time to deal with it”.
        ‘Throw out the milk?!?!?’
        You know what? I did. For about two weeks. The world didn’t end. God did not strike me dead with a bolt of lightening. The cow didn’t notice. I just – needed – a – break.

  5. Why is it important to you to double task-that part I just couldn’t quite catch? Is it the brain stimulation you’re looking for? I just want to understand better…and maybe he’ll you understand this mission too. It is not a pass or fail, remember. It’s a journey. Embrace the journey of the challenges you (or in general) have laid before you. Blogging and toast for breakfast, that’s my double duty this morning too ☺️

      • Hmmm, I wonder though- will double, simultaneous tasks bring clarity or befuddlement? For me I’ve learned that, while my inclination is multi-tasking, I actually should NOT. I miss things, important things, when I do more than one thing at a time. The devil is in the details as they say. Maybe focus on the details of one task, problems…solutions, THERE’S the clarity you need maybe-solutions you find. Maybe?

  6. Sometimes, and it’s not often, I find myself not thinking about anything and it’s quite wonderful, kinda like meditation…letting all thoughts float away, but still aware. I like that, as I’m a worrier, wonderer, and what if-er.
    You have a lot to do and you don’t always have to have thoughts, you seem to be always aware. Just a thought…from me.

  7. One year when feeling incredibly stressed with the gardens and animals and the farm, my sis lovingly suggested that I have something I do for myself at the end of every full on, work filled day. Whether it was laying in the hammock and reading, kayaking on the lake, drinking a glass of wine on the porch, whatever. I agreed to do it, and it worked wonders! At first I had to change my mindset, that I didn’t have time for it. But agreeing to, and doing it brought a change of attitude, and a time for gratefulness that helped me much. Perhaps that may work for you too? XO

      • Do it! I have done that some this summer, stopped a little early in the afternoon on occasion and sat in my swing chair on the deck and read a book! I don’t usually allow myself to read until evenings when everything else is done so it was hard to convince myself that it was ‘ok’. Right now with my John’s health situation I think it will be even more important though it will be a bit of a challenge as I am covering all the bases right now. It helps if it’s an engrossing book so your mind doesn’t get side tracked but it has helped to clear the cobwebs. Maybe it’s just that little break in the endless repetition of chores to be done that kind of gives you a fresh start.

          • Seeing as it looks as if he’ll be having a rather long stretch of radiation appointments and then most likely surgery I’ll probably get more reading time than I want and will be more than happy to return to dull boring routine!

  8. Sounds to me like you need a break. Maybe a day out? Rest up a bit too. Try to have a nice day.

    • Yes! I am working on taking a day up to the city – just had to get Lady back in order and the air to cool off a little before i go and play hooky – DYING to get up to the city!!

  9. You sound lonely. I never hear you mention John but then I may have missed that. I am trapped on my farm (literally) and trying to move so that’s how I feel right now myself. You really seem to perk up when you have company to help with chores.

    • John is gone to work 14 hours a day – 6 days a week and on the 7th he sleeps or goes to his workshop on the other farm. Tell me more about being trapped on your farm – are you OK?

  10. I agree with the comments encouraging you to slow down and take some time for yourself. This sounds like too much, although I do like that you are challenging yourself mentally to keep afloat. I’ve heard it said that the Hopi people, wise and ancient culture, say that the faster the world goes, the more we must slow down to bring balance and time to the world.

    • In a way I am slowing stuff down. Keeping my tasks clear and rhymthic. I think slowing down and sitting about thinking too much not enough good words would have the opposite affect.

  11. I’ve always heard that farming is the occupation from which there is no break, so the problem is built in to begin with. Fatigue is bound to overwhelm sometimes, especially in a heat wave. Faulkner & Tennessee Williams wrote about people struggling in them. How about setting a mental challenge like plotting a novel or a play while you work? Or another children’s story for your little ones & everyone’s elses? Or wearing a device on your sleeve to listen to books & pod-casts or music while you work (as a landscape guy I know always does when doing his routine tasks alone)? Whatever became of the Cadet? Has she grown up & moved on? Perhaps there is another such youngster who would love to come out & help with the chicks or coming piglets, or an FFA apprentice? You certainly haven’t lost your visual ability to see beautiful & humorous photos for us & we are grateful for that.

    • Yes – the cadet grew up and moved on.actually I think you are describing what i am doing – challenging myself to multi task with intent. If I listen to too many books i get even dreamier! But I get a lot of housework done when I do listen.

  12. You might benefit from some recent research on a new subject called nootrophics – it’s about wakefulness, mind wakening, more cognizance and increased intelligence, using herbs and supplements. One of the things I remember so clearly from this research is so simple – just have some rosemary and smell it when feeling foggy. See if that helps.

  13. You have described my depression quite well. That inward looking fog.
    I’ve just started a new method. Trying to focus out more. To look directly at people and interact consciously with them. So much of my interactions are distracted because I’m inside myself wandering in my fog.
    When I get pulled out without my intention I tend to become very irritable. Then I feel terrible about being mean and that just feeds the mental illness. Anyway, I’m trying to focus outward this week. It’s hard to do.

    • But what a great thing to work on. Giving yourself such a structured task – looking directly at people and one or two interactions. I like it. Getting OUT of yourself is an old fashioned term but makes perfect sense now that you mention it.

    • In my own research I have come across multiple articles about the relationship between depression (and other mental difficulties) and gut health. Often as we eat a lot of antibiotic laden meats and GMO foods like soy, corn, cotton seed oil, canola and others, it kills off the beneficial ‘microbiome’ – that layer of friendly microbes that line our entire intestinal tract. It accounts for between 80 and 85% of our immune system. But it also has a direct relationship with our mental attitude, particularly depression and anxiety. By cutting out the gut microbe killers and recharging the gut microbes with probiotics, prebiotics (fiber that feeds the good microbes) and eating a lot of fermented vegetables and beverages such as Kombucha Tea, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, Kvass and others, you replace the good microbes. Personally I have drunk Kombucha Tea for about 30 years. When I am consistent about drinking it, I feel light, calm, and happy. I even wrote a book about this and sell a little kit with the book and two of the cultures called a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacterial and yeast). If you are interested, you may contact me on my blogsite: thegardenladyofga.wordpress.com to order a kit. They are inexpensive. Meanwhile, take care of your gut health. Here is a book on the subject. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0954852028/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0954852028&linkCode=as2&tag=lahealthylivi-20&linkId=VEJWAT7RDDV5FATC And an article which is very informative: https://livingtraditionally.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/bigstock-Human-Colon-18843662.jpg Hope this helps.

  14. Burnout and fatigue can quickly slide into depression, and you don’t want to go down into that dark hole. AMHIK I’ve got some ideas that I find useful in minding my mind:
    1. The Buddhists call it presences but I call it awareness. I practice being ALL here right now. What does this second look like, feel like, sound like? I (try) not to let my mind wander into empty wanderings but instead strengthen my staying “here” muscle. Granted, I really suck at this 🙂 I think I can maintain here-ness for about 30 seconds in a row. So, if it isn’t working and I get frustrated, I move on to options 2 or 3.
    2. I enjoy memorizing poems, sonnets, Psalms and Proverbs, great literary passages, etc. I’ll keep a note card in my pocket of what I’m trying to memorize so I can add one verse at a time as I work outside. I find that when my mind goes a-wandering, it wanders toward what I’ve memorized instead of into nothingness. I consider it lining the bookshelves of my brain’s library.
    3. Or I’ll write poems or ditties as I work. I write for a living (which means I spend 50% of my of time wandering around my yard digging/watering/picking up/de-slugging/wandering), and this week, as I worked outside, I set my brain toward writing a product description to the lyrics of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (I have a very cool client). I once wrote a song for my beloved dog to the tune of Copacabana. If my brain refuses to stay “with” me, then I give it something meaningful to do so that it has worked as hard as my body in the day.

    • I love how you write – your work must have such rhythm! I have never been depressed in my life and I do agree that personally challenging your mind is key to mind maintanence. Sometimes our brains need a good kick in the pants to get up and behave.. c

  15. Plus, the oppressive heat! I think your words will return when the morning air has a BIT of crispness to it. This heat muddles my brain.

  16. I think we’d all like to come over to your home and help out…..friendly faces and smiles with giggles would help! Take care!

  17. Ah, Ceci! I understand your quandary with the words and thoughts only too well! My hub is quite hard-of-hearing and I do so tire of the repeats and having to speak in louder than normal tones. It gets lonely. I think a lot – perhaps too much. Uttering no more than 100 words a day is not normal, especially for women, and I’ve found that the lack of oral usage is causing my muscles (jaw and tongue) to be come lax and it is hard to form words. It’s even hard to put my thoughts into a comprehensible sentence. The only thing I’ve found that helps is talking out loud to myself, or the cats, chickens, birds, etc. Even tell the trees and flowers how utterly beautiful they are. Perhaps you too might try talking to your surroundings and animals to keep your thoughts focused? Hope it helps! It has me, and I find quite a lot to entertain myself with, even breaking out in laughter with some of the odd puns I come up with – but alas, no one to share them with.

  18. The heat, the HEAT;
    is energy sucking,
    mind-numbingly
    Stupefying!

    No words are necessary
    What do “they” say
    about those who talk
    to themselves…
    The animals require
    little of language
    They understand you
    Their love for you

    WATER yourself
    Love yourself
    Replenish it
    that Staff of Life
    as often as you lose it

    For it is far too easy
    to lose track
    (of Everything!)
    Otherwise…

  19. Once again the Fellowship is brainstorming… I love these comments. My everyday operative state is multi-tasking & thinking. I usually have song lyrics running through one part of my thoughts along with creative narrative which may or [recently] may not make it into written words, practical narrative which often results in hurried scribbling of lists on post-it notes, recollections & imaginary conversations, the occasional peaceful no thoughts in the zone meditative interlude, and frequent hiatus where I have no clue at all or can’t think of that word I so desperately need… which I put down as a quirk-perk of advancing age. In balance it’s all good but hungry, tired, thirsty, over-tasked, stressed results in system malfunctions. Working to get better at that is an ongoing task ☺

  20. Just go with the flow as the Buddhists say . . . . Why do you have to consciously think all the time? Why do you have to analyse? Just do what you know you have to do and enjoy each and every movement leading to each and every task accomplished . . . just at the end of the day add up all you have indeed achieved and give a satisfied nod . . . It is when you get ‘home’ for Christmas you should perchance go for long walks in beloved surroundings and look at the scenario from a distance and perhaps your rested feelingworld will tell you the answers to achieve peace one cannot force . . .

  21. I was concerned with what I read today. Then I read the comments and you have been given some very good advice by very good friends. Do take care Celi.

  22. Whew that was a lot! I know an easier way…sing out loud to the world what you are doing at any given time…well you couldn’t do that all day long cause you do some much…um sing at least part of the time…make a musical of your days and someday you might be producing it on broadway…I have a feeling…steal a song if you must..The corn is as high as an elephant’s….you get the gist…love you girl!

  23. Brave and honest words. You sound tired, stressed and sad. Please, please, please take care of yourself. You are the most important person, love yourself more x

  24. How fitting this post is, in rhythm with my own life. I have been exhausted lately.This week my sister Lisa is here to visit and she is here to spend time in nature (the one who visited in January after the loss of her son). While she works in the woodlands and orchard, gathering wood and walking with the deer, I have taken time to rest and do a little cooking. My body and mind simply cannot continue as I have all summer. Normally, I would feel as if I needed to be with her, entertaining her – and we do have time for that after she cleans up in the evening and we eat a fine meal. But it is good for her to be out there in nature, healing her grieving heart, while I rest and regenerate. it is working well… and neither has expectations of the other. We must care for ourselves… even one day of rest or one nap can make a tremendous difference.

    • I’m so, so glad you’re letting both your sister and yourself find space for quiet and healing, sweet Sundog. You know I think you both need and deserve it!
      xoxo,
      Kath

    • It sounds like you understand each other well. Healing takes a long time – in fact I think it is more like adjusting to the new reality than actual healing – loss never really goes away – we just work on wrapping it up in something we can easily carry. Maybe the package gets lighter over time.

  25. Or perhaps that “kick in the pants” could take a slightly different form?
    It’s really good you’re already thinking about improving hydration and mental stimulation (so many great ideas here: ) but what if you take a little breathing break when you find you’re losing focus (a sure-fire way to enhance brain/body function: ) Only need take 5 minutes at a time. Maybe just tack it onto your H2O break?
    But, to really help ‘clean up’ the blood and make room for all that lovely body-feeding oxygen, be sure the exhalation’s slightly longer than inhalation (and yes, actually keeping count helps: ) Personally, I do a deep and slow, 4 second inhale, then pause a beat before a 5 second exhale – in through the nose, out through the mouth. (I like to think of it as the sound of the surf rushing in and then sliding back out: )
    reHydration and reOxygenation (the new R&R; ). Now I’m off to take my own advise. Take care!

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