Life Stories

a day in the life of gabriela

Today I set my alarm for 6:30am. It’s ok to wake up late on a Saturday, I told myself. At 4:25 I was ready to pop out of bed (my usual wake-up time is 4:30am). So I got into my usual routine: coffee, soft music, my favorite meditation couch and a dim, soft-light, LED lamp lit a few paces away. Phantom, my calico cat, sits on the arm of the couch waiting for me to take my place so she can then lay herself on my lap. But wait, everything has to be in order: first a small pillow, then a soft blanket, then she will lie down and purr. If I don’t do that she will make me suffer with her meows! I’m a properly trained human.

My meditation will last at least an hour. This is a bare-minimum to keep my mental/emotional wheels oiled and ready for the day. Without this I get clumsy, frustrated, impatient and terrible on the road. I also might go down a negative spiral of PTSD or anger at the world (or my family) for all the injustices I have suffered. (There is a very long list.)

Although these spirals are becoming fewer and less intense by the days and years, once in a while they will still happen, but only when I have been working too hard to care for others out of a sense of guilt or obligation.

If my greatest weakness is this terrible emotional pattern that can happen to me when I’m overburdened and under-rested, my greatest strength is the antidote. I have gotten so good at healing myself and transforming my negative emotional/mental patterns into non-existent, bygone issues that I never doubt that I can overcome and transform whatever arises in my life. Although I have not yet accomplished all the things I set out to do many years ago, there has not been a challenge in my life that I have not overcome. Not a single one. And as I transform my mental/emotional self, life transforms itself around me. Everything just keeps getting easier and easier. Drama falls away. Peace enters and stays. And I never skip my morning meditations and coffee. Never.

Now waking up at 4:30am is not something I do because I’m a hustler. Far from it! I do it because my life depends on it. It is the fulcrum on which all others things rest.

Depending on the morning, once I’m done with the meditation I will change and go straight into a nice workout. This is also something that further grounds me into a productive and satisfying day. Most of my exercise happens outdoors. Luckily, there is a small forest behind the apartments where I stay, so I am able to access nature just a few steps away from my front door! The reason I chose this place, in fact. So add early morning outdoors to my coffee and meditation and you have a recipe for a bright and energetic day.

Next comes a healthy breakfast, which I begin to prepare while I’m turning on my OAG (Office of the Attorney General) computer. I usually eat while looking at what my tasks are for the day. I must say, one of the great things that has come out of the Covid era is the fact that we can work from home… whew!

There is no way I’d be able to sit at a desk for 40 hours a week. No freakin way. I can work hard all day long, that’s not an issue. I just can’t do it under a fluorescent light. (How did America’s Protestant ethic turn into an inhumane work ethic? If you ask me, I don’t blame a single person who is not wanting to go back to work. Although I am enjoying my job and how I’m treated right now, it wasn’t always that way. I know how inhumane to our collective psyches and emotional bodies the working routine is/has been! It is terrible for society as a whole, and adds a great deal to the social ills that we witness far too often. IMO.)

Back to the story at hand. On a working day, I either have my breakfast while I read up on things to do, or I eat really quick then head to the office which is about 20 minutes away. What I enjoy about going to the office are the double monitors, the monitor raiser thing that allows you to stand up at the computer, and the colleagues I chat with here and there. I also appreciate that it is perfectly ok, in this new Covid reality, to leave the office before traffic gets bad and work the rest of the day from home. When I don’t go to the office, I get all the comforts of being at home, including open windows and doors with sunlight and bird sounds pouring in. Lunch breaks on these non-office days are usually taken in full: I might take a nap, call someone or do some tinkering on my R2 project.

When 5 o’clock shows up, I turn off my computer and take a mental break. I might clean the kitchen, cook, do laundry or physical therapy while watching a show or listening to a book. Right now I’m listening to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. … now let me tell you all my thoughts on that! Another appropriate title would be A Profile of a True Psychopathic Narcissist. And I have tons of experience dealing with true, clinical, narcissistic people, mostly because my father was one of them and I think I have a gene that attracts them all to me… ok back to the subject.

After I spend about 30 minutes to an hour doing non-brainiac work, I get back into the brain zone. This time I’ll do something technical on my R2 site or study something. In most evenings, though, I just let myself relax. Lately I’ve been going to meetups for French speakers so I can practice my French; other times I’ll go to events hosted by the Cornell Alumni Club in Austin; other days I’ll visit a friend or family member.

For winding down, I always cap my days with more meditation and prayers. All technology is off by about 9:30pm.

On a weekend day like today, I allow myself to wake up late if I want to. Sometimes I do, but as you’ve seen, sometimes I wake up even earlier than usual. I always take myself to a nature trail and do a long distance hike or bike. I’m usually out for about 3 hours. Upon returning I’ll eat breakfast and spend the rest of the day doing whatever comes to me. These are the moments that I can settle down and do something creative, such as writing a blog post like I’m doing right now. When I’m done with this post I will probably go out to the water – I love to swim in Barton Springs Pool, and it’s a perfect day for that! I also have some paintings that need work. One is on my easel waiting to be finished. I might add a bit to it later today.

Sunday is always a day off. No appointments. No requirements. No alarm. No anything that isn’t a natural flow. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of re-potting of plants and listening to books or speakers on YouTube. I only do a bit to get ready for my work week, which, thankfully, starts with a work-from-home day.

One thing that I would like to note about this new rhythm that I have is that it is something I have fought so hard to achieve. It has been a very long journey to get myself to the point of being able to settle in a sense of wellbeing. After having spent so many years doing the hard work of healing myself, then helping out with family crises while also going to college, then dealing with more family crises… It has been years since I’ve had a real break! Actually, looking back, there were only moments when I could honestly say that all was well in my life, and those moment were when I was in Ithaca before I decided to go back to school. They were the days that I was working at Manndible Cafe, meeting friends almost every day and going to house parties once or twice a week. I also biked long distance, enjoying the beautiful scenery that is Upstate New York.

I was painting, drinking great wine from Red Feet, a neighborhood boutique winery that was just a few blocks away, and baking bread regularly.

Enjoying the company of my fabulous roommates who were always from somewhere across the world, or from some life that I only dreamed of living, was an almost daily treat. I learned so much from all those social interactions! What a beautiful, lovely time.

Now all those friends are scattered across all continents. Most have invited me to come visit. I would so love to! (Will someone please send me money so I can travel the world?!) I’m only somewhat kidding.

In closing I just want to say that the life I have now is a hard won victory. It is a subtle peace, the value of which is impossible to explain. And the grueling work that I have put into getting here is every bit worth it.

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