There were a few happenings this week that seem – in hindsight – to have been Universe-given wake-up slaps to take care and provide self care. Not in a bad way, and thankfully not that hard, but still. Definitely a couple of brain dustings.
Last weekend was good. No big, extra chores and no extra outings. And that arm stretch I'd found was still helping reduce nerve pain in my left elbow to an amount letting me almost function normally, too.
Then on Monday morning, only about an hour after drop-off, the school called and asked me to come pick up my 6 year old. She'd told her teacher she felt like throwing up, and the sweet lady who runs our school's front desk said my little one was pale and shaking. My youngest has been dealing with anxiety since the pandemic started (her teacher has been so amazing and understanding with the kids in her class), and Monday morning her anxiety monster got a hold of her and gave her a stomach-turning, heart-racing, tear-inducing attack in the middle of class. She was fine once we got home, and over the rest of the day we brain stormed some new coping skills which got teacher approval for becoming part of class. Things have been going pretty well for her for the rest of this week, and my youngest now has key word sentences and a comfort fidget. Total win!
On Tuesday I was talking on the phone with my uncle, who also has chronic pain, and I realized (through a bit of nudging from him) that I don't have to "earn" feeling better. We have benefits right now through my husband's work and I can go for a physio treatment when my arms aren't working. I can also go for an extra chiropractor appointment to deal with the new issues my neck has given me during the past few months. I currently feel like I was beat up, due to going to both a physio and a chiro appointment one day apart, but feeling post-treatment "bruised" (because of muscle tension release) is a lot better than the nerve and muscle spasm pain.
So, because the Universe decided I needed these three reminders, please take this blog post as your reminder that self care isn't some big, grand thing. It can be discovering you have fifteen minutes of unexpected time to enjoy the first sips of your morning coffee and actually using those fifteen minutes to enjoy your coffee. It can be creating a free day by not filling up a day off with chores, or taking an extra day away from your regular duties to get all the chores done that have been piling up.
Self care can be giving yourself new coping strategies, remembering you can ask for help if you need to, reaching out to an understanding ear when there isn't help available, or binging your favorite shows or books for however many hours are needed until you can engage reality again. For me, whatever I can do across a moment to recharge my battery, accomplish in a day to refill my spoon count, and/or use in a heartbeat to balance out the dark monsters in my mind with some light, those are my best self care... as long as I remember to use them. (Reminder to self: use them!) I hope you have a good weekend! :)
Leo pushed back from his desk. He needed some air and his personal cabin had gotten very small during the research he’d been doing. The bland walls surrounding his desk and bed broke for the closed door to the main hall and then for the open door giving a view into his clean, the mirror above the sink taps reflecting clearly the nausea he was feeling. His name and Trevor’s were announced on the intercom before he had a chance to stand up, and the ship-wide message requested both of them to the bridgeside immediately.
Leo quickly changed back into his uniform and hurried to the bridge. The bridgeside was Captain’s private and was segregated from every other place on board. Leo waited on the bridge, outside the bridgeside door, for Trevor. They’d both been called so were required to enter the Captain’s private together.
It was a challenge not to pull nervously at his sleeves as the minutes stretched out. In his head, Leo tried to come up with good arguments for not registering his and Trevor’s relationship yet. It was the only reason he could think of that they’d both be called on.
Trevor entered the bridge, looking even more worried than Leo (if such a thing was even possible) and took up her station beside him as their arrival was announced through the bridgeside intercom. But she didn’t stand too close beside him. They walked in when the door opened, Trevor first as she was the senior member of their scan team, and then stood awkwardly side by side as the door closed behind them. They were facing two people, Captain and… a stranger?
Captain was sitting at her wide desk, the wall of transglass windows behind her seat providing the same planetary horizon view as on the bridge. Removed equipment for system interfaces now controlled by the upgraded desktop had left even more extra room, which was currently filled by a large plant and a small, separate work station, but none of the holes in the walls from removed securement bolts had been covered or filled, and the sterilpoly flooring had mismatched new patches where removed equipment had left gaps. Leo remembered Captain had ordered the small work station, but Dods, Chief Navigator, had put the plant in here to try and add something with colors other than the grey floor and walls or the dark beige uniforms everyone wore.
With silvered hair cut short, skin a lighter shade than her uniform, and no jewelry to be seen on her person, Captain Tallishen Os matched her bridgeside decor perfectly. Her shipside decorating didn’t hold function over fashion, there simply wasn’t a ‘fashion’ part included. The lack of decoration in the surroundings made the colorful, expensive, and extensively flamboyant outfit the pale-skinned, bald stranger was wearing appear so out of place as to look ridiculous.
“Explain this,” Captain ordered Trevor and Leo, tossing the handheld she’d had in her lap onto her desk and not bothering with introductions.
As the senior member of their team, Trevor stepped forward and picked up the thin frame holding an active holoscreen. She scrolled it and then handed it to Leo, a question on her face he didn’t know how to answer yet.
“This is the scan report from our most recent shift,” Leo said quietly, only to Trevor.
“Louder, please, for the rest of us,” Captain ordered.
“This is Dockland’s ReadScan report from our most recent shift,” Trevor said clearly, setting the handheld on top of Captain’s desk.
“What about this?” the stranger asked, pointing at another active handheld on the desk. Trevor picked it up and looked at it, scrolling slowly. Her eyebrows were pinched together when she looked at Leo. He stepped closer and read over her shoulder.
“This is our scan report from five cycles ago, just after we arrived in this orbit, but…” Trevor’s voice trailed off as she scrolled the report. Leo completely agreed with her confusion. He picked up the handheld Trevor had just set down so they could compare the data side by side. “These are identical?” Trevor asked.
“That’s the same question I had,” Captain said. She frowned up at the stranger when he inhaled to speak, her quick hand gesture stopping him from interrupting the collaboration between her two Analysts. His face reddened from the pressure of unsaid words building up angrily behind pinched lips.
“No, wait, this says it’s ours, and has our time and info stamps, but look,” Leo tapped a finger to the screen he was holding, highlighting what he wanted Trevor to see.
“That’s not the reading we had a few hours ago,” Trevor said. “I remember because you pointed out how high the reading we got was. How high it should be in this report, but isn’t.”
“This has the correct date and time stamp, but it isn’t the scan report from our last shift,” Leo said, looking at Captain after a glance at the stranger.
“So what happened to our report?” Trevor asked Leo, and then also looked across the desk to Captain.
“We were expecting you would tell us,” the stranger accused, glaring at them.
Leo and Trevor scrolled through the identical reports again, seeking something else they could add from more than thirty seconds of observation. Some of the spacing in the corrupted report wasn’t a perfect match, indicating whoever had copied it hadn’t had access to an original file. That appeared to be good, as in at least it looked like Dockland’s new control systems hadn’t been corrupted into the records. But their latest report being a forge of their old one implied the live part of the system was corrupted.
“Have anyone else’s scans of their most recent shifts had this corruption?” Trevor asked.
The stranger glared at Captain but she didn’t look up to notice. “No,” Captain said. Leo and Trevor stared at her, both of them with their brows creasing together. They’d heard the hesitation in her answer but didn’t know why the hitch was there. She sighed and shook her head. “Not from Dockland,” she added. The stranger frowned harder at Captain for divulging this extra bit of information. “I need to speak to my team in private.” Captain didn’t look up at the man beside her.
“This holovid has the highest security in –”
She tapped a control on her desk and the stranger blinked out of existence. “Dockland’s new systems came with a life sized holovid upgrade I’m finding I regret agreeing to more every time I have a vid with anyone Senior Coalition.” Captain sighed heavily. Before she could continue her desk controls chimed for another holovid request. She declined and muted the keys.
“He was Senior Coalition?” Tevor asked, her voice as shaky as Leo’s guts suddenly felt.
“Don’t lose too many skin tones over it. He’s low tier, mostly annoying, and only represents the small group overseeing explorations. What I wanted to tell you two, and that small group doesn’t want me to, was that this has happened on four ships so far. Influences don’t seem to extend to all fourteen ships involved in this exploration, yet, but I noticed a pattern he disregarded as soon as I said it,” Captain said.
“What’s the pattern?” Leo asked.
“So far Buccaneer, Oscareous, Dockland, and Shiner are the only affected ships.” Captain’s steady gaze shifted between the two analysts in front of her.
“Those are all the possible ships close to being assigned to scanning planet seventy-four,” Trevor said after only a moment. Leo was close enough to hear her swallow after speaking, as if she had planned to say more and then barely stopped herself. She’d done that twice during their shift earlier, once each time she’d said something to him.
This was a weekly blog updating on Fridays, but life got busy so now I pop in now and then to let you know I'm still chipping away at my stories. If you look back through the archive you'll find weekly quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free! Check out my Short Stories section for free downloads of most of my writing, too!