Archives for the month of: August, 2014

…Is taken one step at a time. That’s not one I can argue with, refute, or change.


“Each time for the first time, each moment, the only moment.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

We are each having our own experience. Also completely true, also out of reach of argument or persuasion. We make choices. Choices to participate, choices to pull away, choices to nurture, choices to disengage – we even attempt to make choices about whether we make choices, which is nonsense and foolishness; we have no choice but to choose. 

Sometimes choices are obvious.

Sometimes choices are obvious.

I enjoyed an exceptional day yesterday, end to end quite a nice day. The evening was spent in the company of one of my partners, providing a listening ear, and a supportive heart. People suffer, even people who love well and deeply will suffer in the course of a human life. Suffering isn’t avoidable; we have choices to make regarding how we handle our suffering, and how we treat others while we suffer. 

Before we go farther, I’ll say I’m still practicing, myself, and one of my own challenges is indeed learning to treat others – and myself – truly well in the face of my own suffering. I am acutely aware of the suffering of others, and I observe their choices and behaviors attentively, asking myself all manner of questions about how what I see applies to my own experience, what I could choose to do differently, were it my choice, to find my way out of that darkness, and to treat my loves well in the face of pain or rage. I definitely don’t want to set expectations that I find it ‘easy’ or that it is a simple matter to change lifelong poor behavior, or rewrite bad programming. I will spend my life becoming the woman I most want to be; the challenges are real, the rewards can’t be overstated. 

Resuming my narrative, I return to last evening. We’d had plans as a family. Those didn’t work out. It happens. I managed to enjoy an amazing connected intimate evening with my partner, simply by listening, being supportive, and allowing the time spent to have real value and intimacy, in spite of the OPD at the heart of all that pain. I ended the evening feeling warm and whole, and knowing that my partner was supported and cared for to the best of my ability. We all want to feel heard. 

We each have our own struggles, our own challenges and doubts, our own fears – and our own nastiness to address in the silence of solitude, staring into the face of who we are in the moment with honest desire to do more, better…or finding a way to be at peace with the person we see. It took me many years to come to terms with some pretty shitty behavior I’d learned, and to recognize how significant my own role is in my contentment and happiness. It took even longer to acknowledge that I alone have the power to change me. Having gotten there it seemed almost cruel that I also had to decide what to keep, and what to change, for myself…and have to be accountable for the outcome when I choose poorly. 

I don’t think this is the sort of journey that has a proper destination. I am doubtful that there’s a nice ‘rest area’ at the end point, a place to sit and relax, and celebrate the finish line. No trophy. No report card. No certification. Life is not the sort of journey that ends with ‘mastery’ or an obvious ‘win’… Except… There are moments when I feel something different about that; when the journey itself is the trophy, the goal, the big win at the finish line. No matter how long the journey, it is still taken in steps, and in moments, and each one contains that tremendous power to choose. Each of those moments, itself, is precious – incredibly precious; there are no ‘do-overs’.

Some thoughts over my coffee...

Some thoughts over my coffee…

What will I choose today? It’s a lovely morning… Today is a good day to change myself, and the changes I make within my own heart, and my own experience, have the power to change the world. Today, I am a more experienced, more skilled human being than I was yesterday. Today I am a handful of  moments closer to being the woman I most want to be. Today is a fresh start and a new opportunity to choose well. Today is a good day to choose change. 

I slept pretty well. I woke pretty gently, and a few minutes ahead of the alarm. My coffee is hot, smooth, and not bitter, with good crema. The house is quiet, although within the last half hour everyone in the household as been sufficiently awake, at least momentarily, to be noticed in the sounds of the household in the background; everyone sounds different. My shower felt good, and the water stayed warm throughout. The clothes I picked out this morning feel comfortable and suit my shape and my mood, or at least my idea of both. 

There may be significant ideas, events, or issues to discuss or consider, but for this moment, on this quiet morning, nothing much comes to mind. I’m not anxious, or sad, or stuck in some other moment. Life’s challenges are not on my mind; even work has not yet broached my consciousness. 

This is a lovely ‘now’. 

This is, in fact, the ideal sort of now for contemplating love, Love, and perhaps birthdays – or packages, postcards, or games. It’s a wonderful moment to plan a movie night, a date, or a romantic interlude; it is the sort of moment when such plans always seem as though they’ll work out, however unlikely it may really be. It’s a lovely moment to enjoy things. 

This morning I spend this quiet gentle moment well, considering things like Thanksgiving, the Yule holidays, New Year’s Day, my partners’ birthdays, Archer Nights, friend over to barbecue before summer expires, dance festivals, painting, and old fashioned braided rugs. It’s a morning for smiles and hope, for compassion and calm acceptance of how human we all are. It’s a morning that resounds with feelings like ‘benevolence’ and ‘ease’. 

It is a Friday before a long weekend and this one feels very nice indeed. There are likely lots of opportunities to change the world for the better, many of them within my reach; this moment, this morning, I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂

My perspective doesn't always offer me a completely clear doesn't have to. Sometimes a lovely moment is enough to enjoy on it's own.

My perspective doesn’t always offer me a completely clear view…it doesn’t have to. Sometimes a lovely moment is enough to enjoy on it’s own.

Healing isn’t an easy thing, is it? I mean, when the damage is substantial, or the illness left to go too long, there are ‘complications’. Life is that way, too, and emotional healing has potential complications all its own. 

So much potential in our choices.

So much potential in our choices.

Wednesdays are therapy days for me. I do what I can to set clear boundaries, explicitly state needs for support, and clearly set expectations about any continued self-care once I get home. I don’t use a checklist, but I handle each piece with great care; my partners matter to me, their emotional wellness matters to me, and making room for them to enjoy their experience even when my own is less enjoyable in the moment matters to me, too. It rarely turns out well; they are also human, also making choices, also have needs, boundaries, limits of their own. Although we are ‘all in this together’, we are also each handling our baggage quite alone. 

Yesterday’s session was very difficult, highly emotional, and I knew I wasn’t ‘done with it’ when I left my appointment. I wisely set expectations that I’d need some time meditating after I got home. I am learning more about recognizing what I need to take care of me, and learning to set clear expectations about those needs. There’s always more to learn; I apparently need some practice on following through. I got home to a house full of hungry people, eager to go out to dinner, and at least one of them irked with me that I hadn’t already said ‘yes’ or ‘no’, convinced I had been part of conversations about the matter. I hadn’t; I’d just arrived home, and there had been no opportunity to have those conversations with me. (One of the small common challenges of a poly amorous lifestyle, I find, is how easy it is to be mistaken about with whom a conversation happened.) I was hungry, myself, and facing the pressure of both my appetite and theirs, I caved to that pressure and went to dinner straight away. No meditation. That choice affected each moment that followed. 

...stormy weather...

…stormy weather…

I learn more quickly from mistakes than from successes. I won’t likely forget that lesson any time soon. 

Wednesdays are hard on me. Harder still to figure out how it is that each Wednesday I am at grave risk of further pain and turmoil at home (or how to remedy that). I either really really suck at expectation setting and maintaining boundaries, or my partners are totally human, wrapped up in their own needs and agenda, and just not particularly engaged with me in this area of my life. That’s pretty simplistic, and I suspect both are true to some extent, in varying amounts depending on circumstances. I could use a break on Wednesdays. I don’t know how to get there. I’d like tenderness, gentleness, kindness, compassion, loving support, lots of hugs and holding, intimate connection in a positive emotional framework… and I’d very much like my experience on Wednesdays to be understood to be ‘about me‘. It seems so simple in text. Somehow, it just isn’t that simple. 

This is where my current focus on emotional self-sufficiency comes into play. The more emotionally self-sufficient I can become, the less I ‘need’ from my partnerships, friendships, lovers – and the more I can choose those relationships based on desire, enjoyment and shared values, and maintain them because they have value in my experience, not because they meet emotional needs. Honestly, I don’t see it as choosing between having my needs met by my relationships, versus meeting them myself. From my current vantage point it is more a matter of learning to meet my own needs where that potential exists, versus having those needs met in a haphazard hit or miss way when they can be met by someone else at all. Each Wednesday that I struggle to fulfill emotional needs that are a byproduct of my therapy experience, I learn more about being self-reliant emotionally, which seems worthwhile. 

I’ve changed a lot over the past year. It has gotten pretty lonely sometimes, and I experience profound moments of self-doubt, and doubts about my relationships. I say that because it isn’t always obvious to me that this is common to the human experience, generally, and later I may need this reminder that it is quite common indeed. 🙂  

...Eventually the light breaks through the darkness, and there is a new day...

…Eventually the light breaks through the darkness, and there is a new day…

Here we are, a new day. An opportunity for new choices. Today is a good day for choices, and for change. Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to treat others with kindness, and myself too while I’m at it. Today is a good day to change the world. 

Some days I just have to pause for the good stuff.

One lovely moment in summer.

One lovely moment in summer.


I woke with a nasty headache this morning, a sort of combination headache, part dehydration, perhaps, and part sinus headache. It seems largely irrelevant now, that was more than an hour ago. I’m already well beyond the challenge of that moment, and quietly enjoying the moments after meditating; still considering the theme of the insistent thoughts that intruded. I am feeling appreciative that life isn’t worse, that’s all. 

I’ve been doing ‘the gratitude thing’ on Facebook. I enjoy it and have long since lost count of any number of days; it is enough to be grateful, to appreciate what is good, what is going well, what satisfies my needs. This morning is a little unusual. I am most sensitive to the gratitude of ‘not being worse than it is’ – without any negative emotional experience, and actually also better than neutral. Small things matter. It matters, for example, that although I’m in considerable pain from osteo-arthritis in my spine, pretty much all the time these days, I’m also still walking around on my legs with good ease of movement, in general, and managing 5 miles a day or more. That’s the sort of thing, this morning; gratitude doesn’t have to be dishonest, doesn’t need me to overlook what is real, or that I have moments of suffering. It’s a comfortable and nurturing realization, and I feel whole while considering it. 

One beautiful summer day.

One beautiful summer day.

Yesterday was hot and sunny. My lunch walk was a test of endurance by the time I returned to the office. I didn’t regret taking the time, or making the effort, the value in the moment is considerable in spite of the heat; exercise, sunshine, the beauty of life and the world around me…totally worth it. 

Color and perspective

Summer up close; I have to be out in it to see it.

Isn’t that how a lot of things ‘really’ are? The yearned for, paired with the tolerated. The needed, sought understanding there may also be a burden. The anticipated, alongside the dreaded. The pain and the reward. What is enough? Perspective, balance, acceptance, gratitude…all working together in a framework of mindful will. This is a very interesting journey. 

Small stuff matters.

Small stuff matters.

Today has all the ingredients of a very good day. What will I choose? What will I learn from moments of suffering? How will I face my challenges, meet my needs over time, and graciously handle the worst of what life throws at me, without being flattened by it? Today feels full of opportunities. 

Yesterday was productive, in spite of lingering dizziness, arthritis and headache pain, and a significant shortage of sleep. It was also quite a nice day, with one bit of emotional difficulty in the evening, which didn’t last long and which I wisely followed with an early bed time. Although I only managed about 6 1/2 hours of sleep, it was an improvement over the 4 hours the night before. 🙂

The emotional challenge du jour wasn’t any great mystery, either, it was simple a matter of humanity. In pain, tired from lack of sleep, tired from a long busy workday, excited to see the traveler returned home, I was more volatile that I realized, and took a partner’s irritation and hurt very personally in a moment that was handled poorly. There is a reason so many of the things I am learning to do to support and care for me are referred to as ‘practices’; mastery is not the point. The opportunities to practice are decision-making points. Will I choose wisely? Will I practice? I did last night, and the evening ended well, after I took a time out and took care of my needs (a long soak in Epsom salts, meditation, yoga, nutritional support).

No dizziness this morning, and I feel a tad foolish. I may have given myself two days of vertigo by making a poor choice to try out my partner’s exercise hoop… I had a hoola hoop when I was  kid, and it seemed a fun moment to give it a try as an adult. I just didn’t stop to consider that my fused spine, held together with confidence and surgical wire, might rule this activity out for me. At no point did my brain helpfully point out that perhaps a leisure activity that applies a lot of twisting motion to the very location of my spinal fusion might be a poor choice. I paid for that oversight, but find myself fairly appreciative if that is all it turns out to be.  It could be much worse. 

Things nearly always ‘could be much worse’. When I’m having a shitty day it can be hard to hang on to that thought, but it’s a great observation for perspective. There are people smarter than I am, by far. There are people who are funnier. There are wiser beings and people with much greater ambition. There are some moments in life that blow me away with how awesome and moving they are. There are good days and bad days. Generally, regardless how else any given moment is defined by any one human being – including me – things could be ‘much worse’.

Perspective matters; life looks very different to the wee spider on this rose, than it does to me.

Perspective matters; life looks very different to the wee spider on this rose, than it does to me.

This morning’s meditation and yoga were a gentle opener for what will likely be another lovely day. I’ll do what I can to refrain from setting myself up for failure by building up my expectations; expectations have proven time and again to be a detour off my path that rarely leads anywhere I want to go. Still, as with most mornings, there’s no particular reason to expect the day will turn out poorly, either. It is a day, like so many, that begins with a pleasant morning.


Does a wee spider have expectations?

Today is a good day for love – and for listening. Today is a good day for compassion – and for following through on commitments. Today is a good day to appreciate the efforts of others, and to recognize that most of the time, most people, are doing their best. Today is a good day to be kind, and to be patient. Today is a good day to change the world. 

However small we may feel, our choices matter.

However small we may feel, our choices matter.