Archives for the month of: January, 2015

Another chance…? Another chance to what, exactly? This morning I woke feeling decently well. Pain…manageable. Mood…serene. Yesterday started well, but most of the day itself was a test of emotional endurance, with physical pain supervising every effort. It was all small stuff, too. I’d just start pulling free of the dense sludge of negative emotion, and get slapped with some new small test of my patience, or balance. I spent the day struggling. Oddly, the day ended relatively well with 90 or so minutes of calm, quietly spent with the family, ending with a couple of episodes of South Park, and the company of my traveling partner. If I could have smushed the opening hour and the closing hour together, the day would have been quite brief, but quite wonderful.

Living isn’t about ‘could have’, is it? Life isn’t about ‘ought to’. Life isn’t about ‘didn’t’. Life is a very real-time experience, however often I bamboozle myself with yearning for something past (or regretting it), or however often I am stalled by an attachment to a future outcome. ‘Now’ is what I’ve really got to work with.

I actually don’t know what turned me around last night. I got home still feeling blue, unbalanced, reactive, and stressed out. I struggled through a shower, through some chores, and even taking care of me basics, and feeding my fish. I politely retired to a solo space, certain at that point that I just wasn’t ‘fit company’ and not wishing to spread it around. I lit some candles (mostly to take off the chill of the room, but I do enjoy the ambiance). I spent the next hour (maybe longer) meditating. That’s all, just still, and quiet, and focused on that simplest point of life, my breath. When I finished, I still had a few tears to go, and they drifted lazily down my cheeks while I took out the trash for tomorrow’s pick up, and made a bite to eat. From that point, it was as if it was an entirely different day. It was…odd.

When I called it a night, I didn’t read or do yoga, or linger awake in the night. I did spend more time meditating, no clock, and once finished with that, contentedly rearranged myself for sleep. This morning I woke feeling fairly good. Correlation does not prove causation, but I do find it noteworthy that many of the improvements in my experience, overall, and bad-days-turned-good experiences, seem to be associated very specifically with meditation. Before it sounds like an endorsement, I’ll also point out I could just as easily say they are associated with tears, but it would be a misleading statement, since I’ve been crying far longer than I’ve been meditating. LOL

I recognize from yesterday’s moods, and from things said during appointments, that I need to slow things down a bit, at work and at home. I’m pushing myself harder than I mean to, and compromising more of my own needs than is healthy for me. Spending more time meditating benefits me directly, but also improves outcomes and experiences for people alongside me, interacting with me. Somehow my ‘to do list’ has grown to pages, and when I take a closer look, it’s unnecessary to push myself so hard; organizing one’s time need not result in self-abuse (no, no, not that kind of ‘self-abuse’! lol).

One winter moment, still,  and calm. If I could just get the hang of this one - 'each time for the first time, each moment the only moment'.

One winter moment, still, and calm. If I could just get the hang of this one – ‘each time for the first time, each moment the only moment’…I keep practicing.

Today is a good day to slow it down and enjoy the journey. Today is a good day to treat myself with kindness and respect my own time, my own limits, my own boundaries. Today is a good day to change the world.

 

It’s already Wednesday. Only Wednesday? Test results are in! I’m aging. Well, shit. I knew that already. On the positive side, I’m not headed for death any faster than I was before. So, okay. Moving right along…

I slept well last night. I woke feeling rested, and calm. I am out of the office today, but it’s not ‘a day off’ in the leisure sense. I feel mostly fairly prepared, although a little self-conscious about how much difficulty I have been seeming to have the past 3-4 days with keeping track of things that are in progress. Signs of aging? Sure, okay, why not? Absent-mindedness is the stuff menopause jokes are made of. Right at the moment, I’m okay with that. I smile at myself, my limitations, and this morning they don’t seem particularly important. I feel loved.

I woke feeling loved, and I probably slept the night in love’s embrace; I don’t recall my dreams, but I woke smiling. Love is a big deal. It’s odd to recognize that I had so little capacity for love and loving when I was much younger. I carried a heavy burden of dread and anxiety, and wrapped myself in the gloom of futility and helplessness. Those emotions do not make fertile ground for love to grow. I’m glad I am taking a different path these days, because love is just about the best thing ever.

Taking a moment to watch fish swim.

Taking a moment to watch fish swim.

…I catch myself just sitting here, watching fish swim, and enjoying this pleasant moment. Hot coffee, quiet morning…enough. I’m learning that the qualities of life I most enjoy, myself, aren’t about more, better, sooner, faster, or even ‘other’ – I enjoy life most when it feels like ‘enough’. I’m finally figuring out that ‘enough’ is a product of my thinking, and my being, and is so very much about ‘now’. Simple joy and presence, now. Being focused on love and loving, and on creating a context in which love can easily thrive, is tending to result in contentment, joy, and a feeling I don’t have a name for that starts down low, and feels warm and uplifting, and fills me up with smiles from the inside. There’s a big self-care component to finding and embracing this experience, too. There have been so many challenges, choices, and changes just finding this one still, calm, lovely moment filled with love…I rest here, awhile, soaking in these good feelings. I’m learning to make a point of savoring every pleasant moment I have, and it actually does tend to shift my ‘default settings’ and implicit memory in a more positive direction, further improving my general experience over time. Investing in love makes sense, the return on investment is wonderful.

I hope you have the very best possible day, today, and I hope you notice, too, and enjoy it fully. Today is a good day to smile. Today is a good day to smile back. Today is a good day to enjoy the world.

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.

Embarking on this strange little Life In Weeks project with myself has been interesting. My traveling partner inquired, one afternoon while I was coloring tiny squares – weeks of my life on the chart – how would I be staying caught up as time passed, and had I already developed a plan for doing so? Actually, I hadn’t, though I had some vague thoughts on the matter. It seemed fairly clear the perspective would be different than a day-over-day view –  like a journal or diary, which is often very focused on minutiae (and drama). I didn’t expect it would be much like a high level annual overview, either, and different still from a ‘timeline’. I contentedly went on coloring, and considering.

At some point, I found myself figuring out how many pages a single blank book would need to have in order to represent one-week-per-page of the remainder of my likely lifespan based on current averages…and wondering if one week of living could be described in so few lines of text. I dislike the idea of attempting to ‘color in’ the week-by-week squares of my life’s events; I think it would lack perspective. I want to be able to look back on these as-yet-unlived weeks from the vantage point of further in the future, with the wisdom the additional living might imply, and greater judgment about what matters most, and do so without forgetting all the details completely. So. This morning I took a few minutes to consider last week. I selected a favorite writing utensil, a Bic medium point, black. I opened a new blank book for the first time in a great while; this seems the sort of thing that might warrant pen and ink, and the sensuous reality of smooth dry paper against the side of my hand. I wrote for only a couple of minutes. Frankly, there wasn’t that much going on in my life last week.

Wait…what? I sat quietly for some time thinking that over. I’ve been thinking it over for some time since. When I look back on my experience in whole weeks of living, much of what I struggle with, and the small day-to-day challenges within relationships, aren’t actually noteworthy in the larger perspective of ‘what was my life about’. My address didn’t change, nor did my job. I didn’t gain or lose friends, lovers, or family members. I did not paint a masterpiece, or publish a great work of literature. I did not radically change my life, or change it in any way obvious to me now that would result in long-term differences in my experience. I don’t know how to explain why this thought would be meaningful to me, but I find that it is a source of some odd bit of calm regarding the day-to-day difficulties, challenges, and drama…because, really, none of that is very relevant in a bigger picture, and more of an irritant, than an issue. I feel more clear-headed, and less overwhelmed by details as a result of this subtle change in perspective.

A slice of life…a different perspective on what matters most.

It’s a lovely day to consider what matters most, and practice practices. I smile when I catch myself thinking what a lovely quiet day it is, realizing that the stillness is within.

Today is a good day for perspective. Today is a good day to follow through on commitments to myself. Today is a good day to enjoy this precious mortal time, and a mild rainy day in the middle of winter. Today is a good day to enjoy what is, without being to wound up about what isn’t. Today is a good day to change my perspective on the world.

 

It’s a quiet evening. I’m sitting with this heating pad on my back, contentedly watching a randomized playlist of favorite South Park episodes, sort of, and checking out tent camping opportunities around the state. Spring will be here soon enough. I’m in pain, but managing to find contentment; I’m not spreading the stress around.

Taking time to hang out with a friend, to pause the clock and enjoy the moment, and to enjoy a well-chosen, healthy brunch...

Taking time to hang out with a friend, to pause the clock and enjoy the moment, and to enjoy a well-chosen, healthy brunch…

...walking urban trails, enjoying a great coffee, getting a massage, lingering in a hot Epsom salt bath, and sharing a favorite show in the evening...

…walking urban trails, enjoying a great coffee, getting a massage, lingering in a hot Epsom salt bath, and sharing a favorite show in the evening…

Today was a good day. It’s enough.