Sipping my coffee this morning, and giving thought to yesterday. A good day at work. A weird, fairly alarming commute home by light rail (lots of feral humans, acting out, it was a bit scary at times). I think about how productive I felt, in the new location. I think about how many colleagues were smiling, that I don’t recall seeing smile so much, before. The thought has me smiling, now. 🙂

…Sometimes a change of perspective makes a real difference. Walk a new path. Take a different approach. View things through a different lens. Ask new questions. Hell, just step from here, to over there, and take another look. Perspective can change how things look, so much. 🙂

I think about the weekend, and the fresh bit of trail walking I’ve been doing. Where to, next? I’m eager to tackle a certain “loop” I have in mind (it is not particularly loop shaped, it simply does not require me to double back to get home). It will test my renewed endurance, although it is approximately the same length as the longest walk I’ve recently taken, at 3 miles. Nonetheless, it has one daunting feature, due to the lay of the land; it is very hilly, with several steep bits that mock the hill in front of the house (well… one of the steep bits is the hill in front of the house). Am I up to it? Regardless which direction I start off in, I’m facing serious inclines, or declines, and throughout the walk, an assortment of both. lol I’m still excited to give it a try.

…No expectation of “easy”. I just have it in mind to take this lovely walk I’ve never taken before. 🙂 That’s enough.

I sip my coffee and think about walks, and paths, and journeys, and trails, and hikes… and realize I am ready, so ready, to begin again. 😀

Where does this path lead?

This morning, I’m having tea. I could have had coffee; I didn’t really feel like listening to the grinder first thing in the morning, and lacked the foresight to grind my coffee before bed last night. 🙂 So. Tea this morning. This is not a hardship. This is a lovely, fragrant, carefully brewed cup of Earl Grey tea, and the scent of Bergamot mingles with the scent of my perfume. Very pleasant. No noise. 😀

Yesterday was the first work day in a new location (same job, same role, same company). The new building is filled with light (on one side, where I happen to sit), and is clean, and tidy, and lovely. It’s in a gentrifying neighborhood, filled with apartment buildings converted from warehouses, and office space that was once brewery space (or other industries). The buildings seem to crowd in next to one another, almost blotting out the view of the sky. From where I take my breaks, the world seems too purposeful to make room for beauty, and almost as a counter-argument to that experience, the neighborhood is dotted with small parks and green spaces tucked away in strange corners. It all seems very new to me, for now, and filled with adventure.

The walking I’ve added to my commute is pleasant, and not so far as to be uncomfortable, or particularly challenging. The train ride I’ve added (parking in the new location is fairly limited, and very expensive) is less pleasant, wholly tedious, and I already miss the drive (which reliably gave me about an hour of mostly quiet time to spend on my own thoughts). I definitely spend too much of my time hemmed in on all sides by more other people. LOL

Change is a thing. Now that it has happened, it’s time to sort out what works about it, what isn’t ideal, what can be changed, what requires a change in thinking, what can be embraced with joy, what can be “worked around”, and what the lessons are that new circumstances can teach me. 🙂 I start with a commitment to spending some of my train-riding time reading, and drop my kindle in my backpack, ready to start a new day.

My dreams last night were filled with thoughts about time, and timing…and here it is, already time to begin again. 🙂

The wheel of change turns without much help from me. Today is another “day of changes”. The weekend saw me out on the trail, walking, getting ready for more walking; a new commute begins today. I’ll be back to taking the train each morning, and I’m adding a bit of walking time to the commute…so, of course, this morning is rainy. lol My coat will keep me warm and dry. My backpack will handle that for my laptop, which comes home with me, often, on wintry evenings and weekends, just in case of snow or ice. “Back to the office” this week has some novelty to it. New commute. New office. 🙂

The weekend itself was a lovely one. There were occasional disharmonious moments, but barely a blip in my recollection of the time shared with my Traveling Partner. I enjoyed the weekend. I hope he did as well. I smile, thinking of the weekend, of my partner sleeping in the other room, of a life well-lived. It’s enough. 😀

I sip my tea (no kidding), this morning. It is satisfying, itself, and such a simple thing. Oh, it’s not a permanent switch up, I just felt like having tea this morning. lol It is a metaphor, perhaps, for embracing change.

Another metaphor for change. Where does this path lead?

I’m ready for change, and it’s a good thing, too, because it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

2.4 miles yesterday. 2.7 miles today. These are “easy miles”, mostly paved, and mostly level. One walk at a time, my strength and endurance begin to return, and just in time to adjust to a new commute that reliably adds 1.4 walking miles to my commute, round trip, each day. I’m ready for that. 🙂 I’m hoping to get back to a “5 miles? No problem!” level of everyday fitness, before the weather is suitable (for me) for camping.

…I wonder briefly if my Traveling Partner will join me, camping, this year? Then I let that go, content with all the many things we do together, as it is.

I consider walking metaphors… paths… journeys… steps… distant horizons… goal-setting… achievements along the journey that unlock new adventures.

Even when we are so fortunate as to have a paved and level path to walk, and a journey with a clear destination, we each walk our own mile. We are each having our own experience.

This particular walk is convenient to me, but still requires some effort, and pushes me a bit outside my comfort zone. The hill on which it begins, and ends,  is quite steep. The downward start of the journey, although paved, slopes somewhat toward the street, the opposite direction of what is comfortable for my bad left ankle. Each time I set out, I do so with great care, and my cane, and also taking a moment to appreciate, very explicitly, that the return trip, when I am most fatigued, at the end of the journey, will be sloping in the correct direction for that bad left ankle; something to look forward to, about tackling that daunting hill. It’s very existence discourages and tests me. This weekend, I overcame my reluctance, and my (let’s be honest) fearfulness. That’s progress. It’s a small thing, but I sit quietly, feeling my muscles relax and cool down, feeling my heart rate slow to my normal resting rate, and I celebrate. 🙂

There are so many beautiful things to experience, but many of those are out of reach, without making a journey.

I think about tomorrow. I’m off for the holiday. Another opportunity to walk a distance. Another chance to begin again. 🙂