Are you rushing to get to work? Rushing through waking up, showering, dressing? Rushing to be out the door “on time”? Breathless with anxiety before you even start the car? Already thinking about the day ahead in such specific detail that you’ve “borrowed trouble” to fret about before you even have any in the moment?

I used to do that. I don’t now. It was a good change to make, to slow down in the mornings. 🙂 Maybe not life-saving, but certainly life-changing. I went from a fairly tightly timed morning routine that took 17 minutes from the alarm clock to the click of the front door closing behind me, and reliably got me on the bus heading into town 3 minutes later (the stop was just across the street from my apartment). Any deviation from my routine put me at risk of being late to work, and I had huge issues with time, timeliness, and time management, at that time in my life (I wasn’t bad at it, just really tense and weird about it on this whole unnecessary level). Being late – or thinking I might be – was a fast track to temper tantrums and treating people poorly (myself included). It was a shitty way to live, and it didn’t make me more efficient, or even on time more often.

What do I do now? It’s pretty low tech, honestly; I get up earlier. Like, I get up a lot earlier. I get up “earlier than I need to” by quite a bit. Most variations in desired arrival time at work don’t require me to change when I get up in the morning, that’s how much earlier I get up. Right now, it’s easily 90 minutes after my alarm goes off before I need to leave, and I could as easily leave the house fully 3 hours after I wake up and still be “on time” from the perspective of a salaried employee, and I sometimes do. It’s lovely, really, to be genuinely awake when I leave for work, to be able to write at leisure even on work days, to have adequate time to dress, shower, do some yoga, and even meditate before work – and still have time to write. It puts me on the path to being my best self each day.

I got home last night tired and frustrated by feeling the cold I thought I was over trying to make a comeback. I really don’t need the hassle or inconvenience, and I sat quietly frustrated, tears of exhausted aggravation coursing down my face for some minutes. Just… tired. I skipped the company summer block party over it, too. Came directly home. No chores. No video entertainment. No music. Hell, I didn’t even pick up a book. Just sat, staring rather blankly, sipping chicken broth or tea, until I was “sleepy enough” to just go lay the fuck down and rest. I was asleep early. I slept hard. Deeply. Uninterrupted. I was irritated by the weird repetitive noise that woke me – my alarm. It took nearly a full minute to figure that out and shut it off. I turned the lamp on and off a couple times, puzzled why the noise was not stopping. lol Usually I am awakened by the subtle “click” sound that immediately precedes the alarm actually going off. lol

I definitely needed the restful night. I woke feeling more myself. Still cross about this cold trying to come back – and of course, immediately as the fucking weekend begins. That’s becoming a source of real frustration for me, lately; the weekend is my one real opportunity each week to get some legit downtime, and it’s so rare any more to just enjoy one. I’m sick. Or traveling. Or moving. Or I’m sick. Or I have tons of shit that just must get done, non-negotiable. Or I’m doing something for someone. Or I’m sick again. Or I’ve gotten injured. Or I’m traveling. Or… I need to slow down. Again. And maybe not just in the mornings. Mornings? I’ve got those down at this point. 🙂

It’s a journey. No single change, no one practice, solves for X in every one of life’s equations. There are more verbs. More opportunity to do more/better, while also practicing skillful self-care, and figuring out what is actually worth doing well and more often. Being and becoming are a massively challenging jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces not yet fit into the puzzle are all jumbled up together in an untidy pile; sometimes it isn’t clear which pieces are most valuable in any particular moment. I’m still such a beginner at this being human thing!

I finish my coffee. Take a deep breath, look at the clock, and exhale slowly. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

My coffee is tasty. The house is comfortable in the pre-dawn chill of a summer morning. The air quality is still pretty poor as smoke collects in the air from distant fires. My mind is more or less… blank. I’m not quite awake yet, at all. I take another sip of my coffee and stare at the screen. It too remains “a blank page” for some minutes before I finally just drop that into the title field, and sit quietly, drinking coffee, aware.

This is not an unsatisfying moment. I am not feeling frustrated. (I chuckle as I write those words, immediately hearing my Traveling Partner’s voice replying in my head “Well, how are you feeling?”) I am feeling content. Just that. This moment does not seem to require more.

We create our experience with our choices, and our understanding of it is a carefully crafted narrative we make up ourselves, that may or may not accurately reflect the details of our experience (or any other – we’re seriously really good at making shit up and convincing ourselves it is real). This particular experience, here, now, is built on my choice to relax and accept that I may not have anything noteworthy to write about this morning, and to fall back gently on “just putting words on a page”, “thinking out loud”, in real-time, unedited and uncensored. I smirk at myself using the word “uncensored” in the context of this particular morning; there’s nothing about the morning thus far that would require, or benefit from, censorship anyway. 🙂

I’ve caused myself so much stress, anxiety, suffering, and heartache, just by insisting that I do more, faster, so often. The arbitrary performance standards we set for ourselves (and each other) often have no basis in what works, or what matters most. Sometimes they are just numbers pulled out of thin air. Why let life become stressful over made up shit? Seriously. Same with our internal narrative; we often make up a story about our experience that is based on untested assumptions, unvoiced expectations, and wholly unrealistic fantastical details that are in no way factual – then we let it stress us out. (Note: consider not doing that!)

This morning begins another work day. One more after that, and it’s the weekend again. 😀 I’m ready for it… but first, I have to live today, in this moment, present and engaged, and doing both things and stuff. lol Have to? Get to.

…It’s already time to begin, again. 😀

Wednesday. I’m already eager for the weekend ahead. I am thinking about the down and back drive to see my Traveling Partner this weekend. Different car. I try to remember why, exactly, I’m making the trip… and even though I do have a clear recollection that it is a purposeful journey, I don’t recall why I’m making it, beyond the pure joy of the drive, and a visit with this delightful human being I so adore. It is a source of mild amusement that I am eager to make the drive. I haven’t been, generally, aside from being eager to see my partner, always. It is in the context of the new car that I find my eagerness to make the drive, specifically… Which gets me thinking about context, generally.

I let my mind wander a bit, thinking over “context”. I don’t get anywhere particularly useful, today. I fall back on listening to the early morning commuter traffic begin to pick up, out there beyond my window. Yesterday’s commute, the first one in the new car, was… fine. It was just fine. It was fairly effortless, although still punctuated with occasional stupid bullshit (or at least decisions that appeared, from my vantage point, to be fairly stupid, probably bullshit, based on context), and I even found myself simply enjoying the drive. Does the car make that much difference on the quality of the journey? I guess it could – in a journey taken by car. lol

I sip my coffee and consider the day ahead. I do so a little reluctantly. I have some errands to take care of either during the day or after it ends, and somehow… I don’t feel like it. LOL I’d much rather laze about barefooted thinking about my “boyfriend” and enjoying summer. The work day ahead looms over my reluctant consciousness this morning. I am thinking about summer drives on country roads, and picnics, barbecues, and house parties. I am thinking about friends, and love, and joy. I am thinking about that feeling of liberation that I feel on a Friday evening, or a Saturday morning – no work, no school. If I could sort out the logistics, I would definitely take the rest of my adulthood off. LOL

The last swallow of coffee, another glance at the clock, in the context of an ordinary Wednesday morning. It’s time to begin again. I take a breath, which becomes a sigh. There will definitely be verbs involved – my results may vary. 😉

This morning I feel a bit as if I am wasting my time writing, at least a little bit. No sense of purpose, direction, or narrative, this morning. No hint of an idea. No phrase to build on. Just a woman and her morning coffee. 🙂 I suppose I am okay with that – and if I weren’t? My options are to choose change – and create it – or let go of my attachment to this moment being any different than it already is, right? 🙂

I sip my coffee and let minutes slip quietly by. I yawn, still sleepy, not yet fully awake, in spite of my morning yoga, and a pleasant shower. I pause to appreciate that I seem to be more or less over this head cold. There is a busy workday ahead of me, which seems less noteworthy than my eagerness to undertake the commute. The new car is an adventure of its own, and the fun of that far outweighs the irksomeness of the commute itself, for now. Perspective worth holding onto for another day, when I may need it more. 🙂

I ping my Traveling Partner, wondering if he is awake or asleep. The lack of more or less immediate reply, at this hour, suggests he is sleeping. I smile just at the thought of him, as my day begins. Love is a great beginning to a moment, or a day, or a journey. I take a moment to direct some of that warmth and affection toward the woman in the mirror, too; she’s worked her ass off getting me here, against some amazing odds.

I glance at the clock and finish my coffee. There’s still time to tidy up before I head to the office. I enjoy preparing for the end of the day and my return home in the evening, and doing so makes for a lovely welcome home. I’ve begun to get really caught up on all manner of things I’d let slip a bit (all that back and forth travel does consume quite a chunk of time), in spite of having been ill. I enjoy the momentary sense of accomplishment, before moving on to other things. I check my “to do list”, and begin with a verb. 🙂

Change takes time. I mean, obviously when change is forced on us, some parts of change and changing, and certainly the requirement to do so, can hit us with real force in a very immediate way, no doubt about that. What I am pointing out is more that the skillful adaptation to change takes time. I roll with my changes as skillfully as I am able to, in the moment, but it does definitely take me some time to “get used to the new normal”. The experience of “change taking longer to get used to” is something I recognize as part of my TBI and the day-to-day realities of dealing with it, but it is also an experience most people likely have to one degree or another.

When I moved from the smaller apartment (#27) to the larger one right on the edge of the park (#59), the very specifically mirror-imaged kitchen messed with my head for months; I just kept clawing at the wrong side of the doorway for that damned light switch. It was the better part of a year before my brain finished making that change. Even with practice, some things change really slowly.

There’s a different car in my driveway this morning than there was 10 days ago. I was only getting started on getting used to commuting on transit, again. This morning, it’s back to commuting by car, but the car is different. This is no small thing, but it’s also no big deal. It’s both noteworthy and inconsequential. It likely will be somewhat different; the car handles quite differently. Sounds different. Feels different. Surrounds me differently. There are different features to learn. Different placement of some things, compared to the car I’ve been driving. Some things feel more natural than in the sedan. Other things feel quite strangely placed, as though the manufacturer “doesn’t know me at all”. (It’s mostly more comfortable and familiar-seeming than less, though, which is nice.) The new car is a first for me with this manufacturer, actually. A Mazda. Funny how much difference small changes make. They add up, too. It means driving very mindfully is a thing I need to make a point of for some time to come. I can’t really rely too heavily on implicit memory right now; I have none that applies to this vehicle. lol

One very telling thing? I regularly catch myself humming an old Queen song, “I’m In Love With My Car“,  when I am thinking about this car. lol It’s been awhile since I had a car that I felt that way about, myself. 🙂 I’m almost excited to drive to work today. For me, with the injury I have, that also means being very mindful and present is a huge thing, especially the first few weeks driving this car; it’s my one way to keep excitement from resulting in inattention or poor judgement, which can be a common enough result of being overly eager or excited about something, for me.  I’m definitely excited to be driving it. So… a good choice of vehicle? 🙂 I mean… it’s not a powerful luxury sedan (they tend to be a bit outside my comfort zone, and always feel sort of… huge), nor is it a fantastical beautiful sports car sort of machine (which, I’ll admit, I adore on this whole other level, but the driving of which bring out personality traits I don’t find are my best)…but, it’s every bit of the machine I find myself wanting most, day-to-day: nimble, quick, and capable of going where I want to go. I smile when I see it there in the driveway.

Some of the fun in life is about change. Every change is a new beginning. A “do over”. An opportunity to become more the person I most want to be. 🙂 I’m so glad I’m getting over this head cold, too; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂