I’ve gotten some decent sleep this weekend, even ‘slept in’ two days in row. This morning I slept until nearly 9:00 am. I woke abruptly, some noise most likely, but truly I was well-rested and returning to sleep was neither likely, nor would it be a healthy choice; the day had begun. I woke in considerable physical pain, and moments into the morning it was clear that I was not yet sufficiently able to maintain emotional balance to be casually interacting with people – I was genuinely hurt by the initial interaction with one member of the household, this morning, and it was not worth all that; it was a just moment of insensitivity and callousness common to people before they are completely awake, first thing in the morning, and I myself was also just waking up and prone to taking things excessively personally. It wasn’t personal, but I was – and perhaps still am – unprepared to deal with it appropriately, although I think I did okay with it. Pain management is a very big deal for good emotional resilience; if my pain is not well-managed I tend to take things more personally, and also struggle with being very emotionally needy. I chose a wiser path, and took my coffee with me into a quieter space, to take time for meditation, then catch up on email…and now, here I am.

Choose your experience; we're live and unscripted.

Choose your experience; we’re live and unscripted.

Good sleep. Appropriate pain management. Taking medication on time. Taking time to meditate. Recognizing and distinguishing between internal and external stressors. Calories. Exercise. There are a lot of pieces to the self-care puzzle, and they all matter. The challenge is practicing good self-care even when I am in a crappy mood, in pain, feeling ill, or distressed with PTSD symptoms. Today shouldn’t be that difficult…the major challenge today is ‘merely’ physical pain. I hurt, but I hurt pretty much all winter long, every year, and have for many years. I’m not bitching; other people hurt more often, and hurt worse than I do. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I don’t take those things for granted these days; they really matter, and taking care to appreciate the good things, and be grateful for what I have, and what works, and what feels good is a practice that is tending to ‘adjust’ my implicit memory, and my ‘default settings’ regarding how I experience my life in a more positive direction. I’ve made a lot of progress down this path – I both enjoy a better experience, generally, than I used to most days – and I can tell that my experience is improved, too.  (It’s not much help when things get objectively better, but do so in the absence of being able to recognize that improvement!)

It’s an interesting puzzle that what I want in life, the things I yearn for most fervently, can so easily sap me of my emotional resilience and self-sufficiency, and undermine a good experience I have by drawing my attention away from what is good right now, and putting the focus on some moment of discontent – that in some cases actually only exists in my thinking, without any anchor in some element of my experience in life.

Discontent joins the emotions on the short list of ’emotions I just don’t enjoy or find value in’…worry, guilt, jealousy, disappointment, and discontent amount to a lot of dark days for a lot of human primates. I don’t put anger or fear on that list – they both serve obvious purposes ‘used in moderation’; they are legitimate warning klaxons to improve my chances of survival. Moving away from what frightens me may mean my surviving some dangerous moment in the world. Being moved to anger tends to keep my awareness aligned to my values, but for now I can’t do much more to describe anger’s potentially helpful qualities; it’s an area of weakness for me, and I struggle with it to this day. The thing about those other emotions? They are all pinned to expectations and expectations are so often the ruin of a good time. I love to plan, and I like the comfort and security of having done so…but becoming attached to an expectation is a different thing. Clear and explicit expectation-setting has its place in day-to-day life, absolutely true. It’s the implicit, unverified, un-validated, unconfirmed, “I thought we…” sorts of expectations that fuck us all up. It occurred to me this morning, sipping coffee that is unexpectedly ‘bitter’…if I could entirely let go of implicit expectations, I would likely also be letting go of worry, guilt, jealousy, disappointment, discontent…and possibly other subtle negative emotions that can potentially mess with another otherwise great day. It’s a practical thing, and probably worth the effort involved. I won’t miss even a moment of discontent, worry, guilt, disappointment, or jealousy if I never feel those emotions ever again.

Today? Yes, I’m contemplating expectations and discontent, because I woke first with one, and then trending toward developing the other. I happened to take notice of the trajectory of my emotions, and put myself on pause to give it some thought. Had I allowed the moment to overwhelm me, and gotten caught up in ruminating about the drivers of my discontent, and begun wallowing in my disappointment that ‘my expectations’ failed me, I’d be in a very different place right now. I think the constant practicing of better practices proved itself this morning; I found perspective over my unexpectedly bitter coffee, and a tiny bit of unexpectedly positive news.

Today is unscripted. Ideally, I hold no expectations that I haven’t set explicitly, and even then I understand that change is. Today is a good day to live life engaged in the moment, present in my interactions, and open to the possibilities I hadn’t considered exploring. Today is a good day to change my experience of the world.