Archives for the month of: February, 2015

Well, or maybe not – especially if you haven’t asked, or I haven’t told you, or we don’t spend much time together…right? Assumptions tend to result in people having relationships and interactions with rather different people than the people involved are thinking they are, themselves. Like a lot of thinking, it isn’t ‘real’; it’s all completely made up. When I approached turning 50, I made a choice to take a much more genuine approach to my experience, generally, and I’m glad I did. It hasn’t been the easiest change to make; I can adjust my own thinking, and refrain from making assumptions, but I can’t do a damned thing about the thinking, or assumptions, of others – not even to wake them up to the rather significant changes in my approach to my own life and experience. I will be taking The Four Agreements with me out into the trees. It seems a good time to reread it.

Pop songs make so much of life, love, and sex sound incredibly easy. I don’t even find ‘being easy’ particularly easy in practice. It’s fortunately more amusing and bewildering than anything else, most of the time.

Do you know what I like? Even if you know me personally (and some of you do), even if you are an intimate associate or partner, what chance is there that you actually know me sufficiently well that you know what I like – right now, after a couple of years of intense growth and change, without actually asking me? Experience tells me that it is quite rare to be so well-known as a human being, even by the most connected and intimate associates, even after years of interacting, without at least some exchange of explicit communication.  To expect to be known so well in the midst of change, or at the end of a period of profound growth, doesn’t sound likely at all, and seems likely to cause all kinds of suffering.

I also notice that it is very uncommon for people who already know each other to make much effort to update their knowledge and expectations of their friends, lovers, or partners identities, preferences, aesthetic; the details that express the heart of soul of who we are. That seems very strange. I know assumptions have survival value – or we probably wouldn’t have developed to make so many of them – but they are not a particularly useful intimacy building tool… and yet, we cling to them, argue to defend our assumptions – even in the face of actual information.

Do you know what I like? More to the point – that person walking beside you in life, how about that person – do you know what they like? Do you listen when they talk about it? Are you interested? Does it matter to you? And you – do you feel heard? Recognized? Valued? Encouraged in your endeavors? Do you face holidays and gift occasions eager, and content in the knowledge that you are known, and understood? That what matters to you is significant in their experience because it does matter to you? Do you still look love in the eyes eagerly wanting to know more?

Oh, Baby, you knoooow what I like!

Oh, Baby, you knoooow what I like!

It’s a lovely gentle Saturday, spent on art, lattes, meditation, and some words – and questions. Today is a good day for questions. Today is a good day for presence. Today is a good day to be genuinely this woman I am; who else could do it better than I can? Today is a good day to change the world.

I’ve been having some exceptional moments, lately. Some are small and really of no consequence to anyone but me. In some cases, these are the very best moments – gifts of heart, and love, from me, to me, myself. Those are sometimes oddly poignant, particularly if they are experiences colored by the realization that I could have been there for me, in some way, all along. They aren’t unpleasant moments, but sometimes they are uncomfortable.

Each having our own experience...

Each having our own experience…

Lately I have been really throwing myself into being who I am, by choice, supported by my values and actions, and wholly enjoying the enjoyable bits of this amazing creature I have become over the years, while steadfastly working toward my personal goals one practice at a time, investing in great self-care, and taking time to savor this amazing journey. It feels good, and more than that, it feels a bit as if pieces of heart and soul torn from me by circumstances or maltreatment are somehow ‘finding their way home’. I feel more whole than I have… ever. No, life isn’t ‘perfect’, whatever that means, and I will likely spend a lifetime healing, and sorting myself out from the chaos and damage – but it no longer feels like an exercise in futility; I feel hopeful, and better, I am often content.

Life is. Change is. Action is. Choice is. Love is. There are lots of things that are – and it’s a busy world, with each of us having our own experience. I am practicing a couple of practices to simplify my daily experience, because simpler is what suits me best, at this time in my life. I am enjoying making choices that truly support my needs over time, and learning to do so more easily has been worth the ongoing challenges with doing so. It’s still difficult, sometimes, to stay true to taking care of me when it isn’t easy, or faces the obstacle of expectations, assumptions, or agendas held by others. Practicing improves outcomes over time.

Contemplating where this journey might take me, and considering the path ahead.

Contemplating where this journey might take me, and considering the path ahead.

I have the luxury of planning an early spring solo camping trip. I am yearning to be free of steel and pavement and society’s needs and conventions. I am yearning to be among the trees, and the quiet of the world without humankind’s urgency and complicated details. I am craving stillness to the point of lusting after the sound of breezes and birdsong. I am ready to take a few days free of any agenda but my own serenity and survival. My reservations are made. My transportation plans have been confirmed. This weekend I’ll do a preliminary gear check, and make a list, and check it – perhaps a few more times than twice, just for the fun of handling the gear. 🙂

This particular camping trip is an opportunity to test new limits and current endurance; I am packing my lightest gear, going for a longer period than I generally do, and camping at a time of year when inclement weather and extremes of temperature are likely – and likely to be variable. No cot – will my arthritis be a problem? No camping chair – will I miss the luxury of my fancy folding chair, even though the campsite has a picnic table? Colder nights – will I sleep? If I don’t sleep, will I slowly allow strange noises to fuel vague fears into becoming panic and spend sleepless nights worrying about imaginary monsters in the night forest? Will I spend 4 days huddled in my tent hoping to avoid drenching rain? Will I run out of coffee? Will it matter if I do? Assurances from family members that I “can always come home Friday if…” are met with a smile, and the confidence that I’ll be out in the trees the entire time. I know me. I will learn some things about who I am now, over a few chilly spring days in the forest.

I only have one reservation - the only one I need.

I only have one reservation – the only one I need: campsite #21.

Today I plan; it’s a good day for planning, and anticipating fun. It’s a good day to enjoy the world I create with my choices, and my actions. It’s a good day to change the world.



I had an amazing evening with my traveling partner, last night. It didn’t end as well as it started, and I went to bed feeling off-balance and a little sad. I wrapped myself in my blankets and wept for a few minutes, even tolerantly allowing myself a few ‘it’s not fair!’ and ‘it isn’t me!’ moments. I didn’t notice, but at some point I realized I had moved on; my tears had dried, my breathing was deep, relaxed, and even, and my heart felt calm. 72 minutes. Tears became meditation pretty quickly, and very naturally, and I don’t know quite when, but it was 72 minutes from when they began to fall, to when I began to fall asleep, and realized that I was actually entirely okay in that moment – and that moments being what they are, the earlier one that caused the heartache was long over.

Moments are not a big deal; they are moments.

Any one moment, utterly unique, and filled with potential.

Any one moment, utterly unique, and filled with potential.

Moments do not define me. I define me.

We really, truly, are each having our own experience, moment to moment, day-to-day, and it any one such moment we may each – or all – be at odds with one another, because those individual subjective experiences are our world, and we view the rest through those filters, on the backs of our assumptions, and doing our best to find our way through our very own chaos and damage. “Being right” doesn’t really enter into it, for me at least, because “being right” is just as subjective as our experiences, themselves. The challenge for me, last night, was in figuring out how to stay aware and engaged with my hurting partner, and make room – compassionate, tender, understanding, supportive emotional space – for him to have his own experience right along side me having my own.

I have room for improvement. This is a very general statement I believe to be universally true of my experience.

So often things seem more complicated than 'this versus that'. Perspective matters. Relevance matters. Compassion matters.

So often things seem more complicated than ‘this versus that’. Perspective matters. Relevance matters. Compassion matters.

I found my way last night with the awareness that the moment didn’t define me. The challenge we were having communicating and loving wasn’t a characteristic of ‘who I am’ – it was a moment. A challenge. Sure, it’s pretty easy to take that challenge and turn it on myself as a weapon, but where is the value in that? Growing as a person is more easily fostered in gentle conversation, shared insights, connecting and discussing needs, limits, boundaries with compassion for each other, and present with each other even when/if we are hurting. (It sounds easier than it seems in the moment, at my current skill/awareness level.) Remembering that I define me, and that my experience of myself is 100% reliably true to the self that I am when I allow it to be was powerful.  However hurt a lovers feelings may be, those are their feelings, about a moment (their moment); their feelings do not define me, (and considering how little tie to objective reality emotions may truly have, it seems a very poor practice to internalize someone else’s feelings, or taking them on as characteristics that define me, for myself).


We each make our way using the perspective we have, and the tools we develop. 

I woke feeling pretty awesome this morning, and very centered. It’s a lovely way to start a day. Today is a good day to be reminded we are each having our own experience, and that they co-exist with equal validity. It’s a good day to reread The Four Agreements. It’s a good day for love.

Yeah…this is not about ‘management’ as in ‘leadership’, and it’s not about improving one’s resume for a better paying job with keys to the executive washroom. Nope. It’s another sort of ‘executive’ ‘management’ altogether. The ‘executive functions‘ of the brain manage cognitive processes, such as (and likely not limited to) working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, problem solving, planning, impulse control, and in specific areas like the ‘orbitofrontal cortex’, things like evaluating subjective emotional experiences (and so much more). All very interesting, no doubt, but for me it’s a little more personal, and relevant…my TBI is a frontal lobe injury. The lingering impairments are mostly executive function sorts of things, and as with so many other people, and other TBIs, very interestingly individual – the brain is fancy, and the outcome of any given injury is equally individual. A whole new world of potential to heal and move on opened up when I started learning more about how these injuries work (don’t work?), and why, and how it changes my experience… and in so many moments, the experience of those who make their lives (or work) with me.

It is what it is, at least the piece where I look in the mirror every morning and I am… me. It’s not all bad. It’s better, actually, than it once was. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. I’ve become more skillful at caring for this broken vessel, and at sorting out some of the chaos and damage that lingers.  It is, sometimes, a shit experience and I struggle. Very human.

How about this one for a great practical joke on one human primate by the universe… one of my ‘favorites’… my PTSD causes serious sleep disturbances, nightmares, sometimes insomnia, and diminishes the hours of restful deep sleep I can get; I’m easily awakened by the littlest noises, or novelty, in my nighttime surroundings… (waaaait for it…) and my executive function impairments are much more pronounced – to the point of being quite obvious – if I don’t get good rest, reliably, pretty nearly every night. So… yeah. A night or two of poor sleep, for whatever reason, and I start… declining. My temper is often the first obvious sign that ‘things are not right’ – I become irritable, and easily angered, and feel less positive, generally, when my sleep is of poor quality. Next up, I start struggling with emotional balance, and lose ’emotional regulation’ characteristics in my day-to-day experience most adults don’t even realize they have going on in the background; I feel them most particularly when they slip away unexpectedly.  The more tired I become, the more fatigued over time, the more prone to real tantrums, crying jags, and irrational mood swings I become – and (waaaait for it…) less able to sleep; my brain won’t shut down. When I do find sleep, I sometimes dream that I’m awake in such detail I wake exhausted to the point of tears. Yep. Pretty god damned funny. (Not)

Most of the time, these days, I still manage decently well overall…enough to pass as a grown up most of the time. There’s no real way to share what the subjective experience is like (you sort of have to be there). Every one of the many calming practices I’ve learned matters a great deal. Every choice counts. Every effort is meaningful. Every success – however fleeting, however limited the benefit, however difficult it is to recognize in the moment – every success builds the foundation for successes to come. My hope is that over time, that foundation grows substantial enough to bear the burden of the entirety of the chaos and damage…strong enough to hoist me above the pain, long enough to really see the view from a radically different perspective somehow ‘above it’… I would very much like to keep working at life and love to find that I have transcended what has hurt me most and become that woman – or more – that I might have been without the chaos and damage.

Please don’t tell me that’s wishful thinking. Tonight I couldn’t bear to lose the crutch of some shred of positivity to lean on. I’m tired. I know I am. My brain is buzzing like it’s noon on a sunny summer day; I’m not sleepy…but if I can practice good practices (meditation, and yoga are both very calming), and avoid becoming negative, or caught up in some random moment of weirdness, or a sneak attack by my own brain, I might sleep – or at least rest. Rest is okay. Rest is enough.

Enough is okay with me. Hell, I’m not even having to ‘do it alone’, really; my traveling partner checks in now and again. I welcome the closeness, the touches, the tenderness. The reassurance that love is, helps me find my way in the darkest darkness.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.

The evening ends quietly, after a pleasantly productive day that felt more recreational than not. I spent much of it gardening…well…on such tasks as gardening offers at the tail end of winter, preparing for planting to come. Things will turn to spring seemingly overnight; I take advantage of pleasantly sunny or dry days getting ready for it. I share my love of gardening and growing things with my traveling partner, and we pass a lot of time talking about plants, gardening, techniques, yield… It’s strangely intimate, which I attribute to the undercurrent of love that is so palpable when we are together.

I’m not ready for sleep, but I am no longer feeling like companionship. These last few minutes of evening are my own; I sift through the events, interactions, and thoughts of the day, and consider them more thoroughly. I take time to savor the most pleasant moments. I make a disciplined practice of pausing ever so briefly on moments that troubled me, taking only such time as needed to observe, non-judgmentally, and moving on to other moments. It doesn’t feel natural to linger so willfully on all the things that felt the best, and delighted me most, nonetheless, it is a practice that tends to create a more positive experience overall, day-to-day, and finding and maintaining balance seems easier, generally. It most certainly counts as treating myself well.

Today wasn’t fancy, and that doesn’t matter at all; today was enough.

Some of the very best moments are the simplest of pleasures. Few things are more wonderful than love and coffee shared on a relaxed morning.

Some of the very best moments are the simplest of pleasures. Few things are more wonderful than love and coffee shared on a relaxed morning.