[woman with a galaxy for the top half of her head] Quote: "Wisdom and compassion flow from simplicity and clarity; from having nothing to prove and nothing to defend." - Barry Magid

Another year round the sun completed. It’s ironic to me that the heat and humidity of my least favorite season also means adding a number to my age. This year, there was a lot to celebrate, but very little time to do so. I’m spending more time at the office again these days, notwithstanding reporting that the “3-day return to the office is a dud” or that “the return to the office isn’t working“. As with most things, generic answers don’t fit all circumstances, and certain roles and industries require more flexibility than others.

Still, I miss the days of being fully remote, now that we have a house where I can create endless projects for myself. Our solar installation passed county inspection at the end of July, and the electric company estimates our system will be approved to go live by the middle of August. The first phase of our landscaping revamp went in shortly before my birthday, and now that I have my first raised bed in place, I’m spending more time searching for asparagus and artichokes than words and wisdom. I hadn’t ever considered that in zone 7 (as Virginia is) you could have a late-summer round of planting to allow for a late fall harvest. And we’re starting to get acquainted with the local wildlife – just this afternoon, I watched a young buck munching the tall grass in our back meadow, and this evening I discovered an eastern rat snake curled up and digesting (and being harassed by a mockingbird) at the foot of a tree at the front of our property. There’s also apparently a fox who’s mightily interested in the raised bed, as our cameras have recorded his investigations at 10-minute intervals the past few nights. All of which makes for an interesting, local interpretation of the wildlife infrastructure movement underfoot around global roadways.

Spending time at home with these kinds of projects has certainly given me time to listen to my own heartbeat. Research about the power of interoception points to that being a reliable marker for emotional intelligence, which I find an interesting commentary about humanity’s choice to live in cities, where ubiquitous mechanical noise makes it much harder to pay attention to the subtle signals coming from within. More obvious are the signals for weariness.

I’ve written in the past about the challenges I face as a congenital night owl. In the past couple months, I’ve run across two more articles highlighting the reasons to pay attention to the impact of those habits. The first reiterates findings about the increased likelihood of night owls to have shortened life spans, and the second points to the unrecognized cognitive deficiencies associated with sleep deprivation. We have been doing better recently at enforcing earlier bedtimes on ourselves, though my increase in office hours has ended up meaning a net-zero impact.

In a word, while we’re mostly settled, we still don’t have a rhythm that allows us to fully relax into the wonder of our new home. Nor even fully catch up with the correspondence I’d promised to answer in my last blog post, nearly two months ago.

It seems the state of the world in general is rushing forward, though to what end remains murky. Reporting on how democracies spy on their citizens compounds reporting on our post-Roe world. I hope more people are willing to find the space described in “How to stay open and curious in hard conversations,” since we’ve all been wrong about something at least once in our lives. It would mark significant progress if our society could back away from the polarization that seems endemic now, and recognize the shades within absolutist positions.

In the end, seeing how long it takes to get things done, I suspect I’ll remain in this liminal state for another month or three. Gayla and I have been discussing the possibility of kicking off a new, co-written project, but she, too, is caught in the whirlwinds of change, so we’ll see how far we get – especially as we have officially zero words actually written.

As always, I’ll keep you posted here.

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