Archives for the month of: May, 2015

This morning I woke feeling anxious. There’s nothing wrong, as far as I can tell. I am not in pain or struggling with difficult circumstances. It is a lovely chill morning, nearer to summer than to spring. I slept with my window open to cool the apartment overnight; it had gotten quite hot after the heat of the day, yesterday. The community of crows that lives in our neighborhood wake much earlier than the people tend to, and they woke me to join in the delights of morning – or perhaps they just didn’t realize I had hoped to sleep in? 🙂

Life is full of lovely moments, and beauty - I have to choose to see it.

Life is full of lovely moments, and beauty – I have to choose to see it.

Once I was up, and sipping my coffee, the anxiety had passed – although like a bad tooth, I could feel it any time my consciousness poked at it. I take a moment to appreciate the time I had taken to put to rest any unrealistic expectations about mood management and ‘happily ever after’, while I was moving in. Waiting for anxiety or disappointment to set in to take care of unreasonable expectations and unverified assumptions is an exceptionally efficient way to make things so much worse when they go wrong – and things do go wrong now and again, regardless of how ideal life may seem in some other moment. This morning isn’t so bad. I’m just experiencing some feelings of anxiety – and they are primarily very physical feelings, rather than being a wholly emotional experience. I sit back with a smile as I write those words – the physical feelings of anxiety are very like another emotion, a generally positive one – excitement. Eagerness, too, feels a bit similar to anxiety, on the physical side of things…and this morning I have plans about which I am quite excited, and eager for the morning to wear on such that it becomes ‘time to go’.

Recognizing that my ‘anxiety’ is actually ‘excitement’ and ‘eagerness’ allows the pieces of that experience that drive stress to dissipate; without the perception that something is ‘wrong’, these feelings are no longer ‘anxious’ at all.

Sometimes taking care of me is as simple as enjoying a flower in my garden.

Sometimes taking care of me is as simple as enjoying a flower in my garden. Sometimes I am that flower.

I continue to enjoy my morning coffee, and to watch the sun rise, filtered through the blinds of the ‘dining room’ window. (Trust me, this small space that is so heavenly to me doesn’t really rate identifying the ‘dining room’ and ‘living room’ as separate spaces. lol) I smile, thinking about yesterday. It ended well; I sold a painting, and bought a comfortable chair for my apartment, and a modest, practical set of pots and pans. It still delights me to observe how conveniently money works to simplify the conversion of art into needed goods. The transaction was a very practical demonstration of money as a spendable form of human effort. (From my own perspective, it has no other legitimate value or purpose. I suppose that says something about who I am.)

"Sunset Silhouette" 12" x 16" acrylic on canvas w/india ink 2014

“Sunset Silhouette” 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas w/india ink 2014

I enjoy this small place that is my own. I feel content here. It is strange to be so aware that the good feelings associated with living alone cause some anxiety, themselves, and a certain feeling of uncertain restlessness – particularly when things are going especially well.  As a result, I am more aware this morning that even the very good feelings I enjoy so much may take some practice to handle skillfully – perhaps as much practice as managing feelings of anger, despair, grief, frustration, or hurt.  When I am over-eager, or excited to the point of fidgeting and bouncing through my experience, I tend to make poor decisions, and may lack needed awareness of consequences; there are opportunities to improve through meditation, and mindfulness that are as powerful as learning to comfort myself when I am hurting. When I am content for longer periods of time than I am used to, I am prone to taking that experience for granted, and becoming unreasonably frustrated and disappointed when things go wrong; here, too, practices that improve perspective, self-compassion, and mindfulness also ease the rather mundane and unnecessary stress of a challenging moment on a lovely day.

Awake and aware, each day is a new experience.

Awake and aware, each day is a new experience.

This morning, I am both content, and excited about my morning – and I am taking time to care for this beloved darling broken self that is mine, before I head into the world to face what is real about what is also delightful. I stick with my self-care practices, instead of allowing excitement to drive me forth, unprepared for the day. It may seem a small thing, and in this lovely moment it may even seem unnecessary – it will matter very much later, when I am tired, or frustrated over something small, that I took time to take the very best care of me this morning. Yep. Even living with less stress, and more contentment, there are verbs involved. It is still a journey, and an exploration – I am still my own cartographer.

Today is a good day to enjoy my self – and enjoy the world.

I woke to my alarm this morning. I slept through the night aside from one very brief interruption in my sleep that ended with checking the clock and agreeing with myself that getting up at 1:35 am was silly. I went back to sleep easily. I am adjusting to the new environment. There’s no anxiety associated with my disturbed sleep, which is an improvement. I am simply in a new place and the differences make a difference to my sleep until my sense of things grows to rely on implicit memory of this new place, rather than some other place I have been previously. Waking in the night is no longer so disorienting, and when I reached for my alarm this morning my hand found it immediately.

Incremental changes over time do happen, and applying some verbs from my basic self-care arsenal helps that process along nicely. Taking care of me, here, is about more than stress-relieving meditation, pain-relieving yoga, and healthy sleep, too. It is also about dishes, and vacuuming, and making the bed. It is about maintaining order, and a beautiful home for myself – and not because someone else says these things have value (actually, that approach just doesn’t work at all). These are things I value for myself. I can only have them if I do the tasks and take the actions that building that life requires. The verbs are inescapable.

I woke up this morning with a smile. My coffee is hot and tasty and from the vantage point of my desk I can see, on one side, my as-yet-unmade bed, and on the other my very clean kitchen. Timing, too, is part of my self-care picture – waking to a clean kitchen and no dishes waiting in the sink really matters to me. On the other hand, there is no stress or pressure to make my bed upon rising, and I am happy to give myself time to wake up and have coffee and handle that task a little later. I am gentle with myself in this new space. I am efficient, and also patient with myself about competing priorities, and overlapping needs. I have given up berating and criticizing myself over small things – it’s mean and hurtful when others do it, and I don’t care for it – when I inflict such things on myself, it goes beyond hurting and becomes part of who I am, and changes what I accept from others, or tolerate in myself. It hasn’t been easy to give up the practice of treating myself poorly in the context of environments in which others may be treating themselves poorly, or me, or other people – it’s too much continuous reinforcement of behaviors I have been working to change.

I’m not saying it is ‘easy’ now – there are still verbs involved – it just feels a bit less complicated to practice treating myself gently in this quiet space.

They set a good example of living in the moment.

They set a good example of living in the moment.

My aquarium arrived yesterday, and having it set up here at home delights me. I definitely missed the cadre of tiny eyes watching me while I write, and the fish are a wonderful living example of being in the moment – where else would they be? The fios guys stopped round yesterday and got me connected. Later I stopped at the grocery store and picked up groceries – a far less time-consuming process cooking for one, and that one being me (I know what I like, what is healthy for me, and don’t have to work so hard to accommodate other tastes and needs now) – particularly with the store being a short walk away. My pantry is not yet complete. I don’t have a complete set of pots and pans, either. Those details don’t matter right now; I have enough.

It has been just one week since moving day, and I am moved in (aside from hanging paintings, and storing those that will not be hanging). I feel at home already, and this surprises me – I expected ‘finding my way home’ to be more complicated, and require vastly more work to change…something. Something inside myself. Whatever that something is, it has apparently already changed leaving behind only geography and choices to make. There is no need to rush the choices that continue to personalize my home over time – there is fun in the process of exploring new ideas, as well as growth, and rushing those remaining choices increases the risk of being discontent with the outcome later. I take my time with it, and enjoy the process.

Honestly, it is still very new to live entirely alone. My traveling partner wondered aloud recently what it would be like for me once the novelty wears off. I wonder too. I also wonder if I would notice the novelty wearing off at all – my novelty identification circuitry is quite broken. lol Would I complain if living alone continued to be a wonder and a delight indefinitely? I don’t think I would. 🙂 Real life is real, though, and I’m okay with that too. The kitchen floor creaks ferociously here. The fios equipment is rather awkwardly placed. The dishwasher (brand new) doesn’t work and it will be another couple of days before the appliance guy comes to fix it. My aquarium is not arranged precisely as I had it – the mover did her best, and I did not complain; I am content to have my aquarium at home, and I can make any adjustments I care to, later. The warm evening yesterday, and the open door while the aquarium mover moved my aquarium let some mosquitoes into the house and I woke with some mosquito bites this morning. So, sure… there’s no shortage of imperfections even in this gentle experience. I’m still okay with that. I’m living my life, doing my best to treat myself and others well, and using some verbs.

Who I am, who I once was, and the journey between those points.

Who I am, who I once was, and the journey between those points; it is enough.


I am home.

My coffee is hot and tasty, and potentially ‘the best cup of coffee ever’, although realistically that only tells me that I am enjoying it very much right now, relative to the memory of other coffees, at other moments. The move took me out of reach of the very excellent espresso machine in the very excellent and spacious kitchen. My wee kitchen here at home lacks the counter space for such a thing, and I shopped and studied, and auditioned coffees around town made this way and that, and decided I would enjoy mastering the ‘pour over’ method of making coffee.

The first couple of days in the new place, I got by on instant coffee, which seemed fairly commonplace for moving and didn’t disturb me, although the coffee itself was quite ordinary, and not especially pleasant. It was, in fact, the sort of coffee that people who don’t drink coffee use to justify how awful coffee drinking is. lol I still savored the moment, each morning, when I paused for my coffee, sometimes enjoying it on the patio, bare toes wiggling in the cool morning air, and listening contentedly to the birds, or watching the squirrels play. The moment itself is not truly about the coffee. 🙂

Choices come in many forms.

Choices come in many forms.

When the burr grinder, drip cone, and gooseneck kettle arrived it was late in the afternoon on a Sunday – generally a poor choice of day and time for a coffee, since drinking coffee in the afternoon generally affects my sleep quite a lot…but Monday would be a holiday, and I had no plans aside from continuing to get moved in…so…coffee!! I ever-so-carefully reviewed the steps, and then followed them…eager…hopeful…excited… Would it be everything that the fragrant, smooth, exotic pour overs I had recently savored at downtown cafes and the farmer’s market seemed to be? Would it be difficult to master this new skill? Would the experience – and the resulting beverage – satisfy my taste and my aesthetic? Would it be ‘enough’?

The first sip was quite excellent – and each coffee I have made since then has seemed so. I enjoy the relaxed precision of the process itself, and making a coffee is now more involved, requiring me to be more aware of the process itself – and that too feels quite satisfying.

I could have been more frugal, with a drip coffee machine, perhaps, and buying coffee already ground. I’d get by on that, and likely find myself content to have my morning coffee, regardless. I  considered a French press – and perhaps that is an option for another day, for making a larger quantity of coffee to share with friends or lovers….I enjoy a good French press coffee, too. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Good self-care, and the tender act of savoring each pleasant moment life offers me isn’t truly about which practice, what method, or the sort of moment, is it? This morning it seems clearer to me that it is about the experiences, themselves, and the act of savoring them, most of all; it is the living of life that is what matters most, and that I embrace my experience awake, aware, and with a sense of perspective. Or…something. Perhaps it is simply about an excellent cup of coffee, that I made for me, myself, on a lovely quiet morning, after a good night’s sleep?

This morning, in spite of waking in a great deal of pain, I feel more settled into new routines. I feel comfortable and content – and relaxed. I woke with a smile that has lingered through my shower, and remains, hovering over my coffee. I look around and see living space filled with my choices, and that meets my needs, nurturing this fragile vessel, and supporting the growth of the being within it. The smile makes sense; I am taking good care of me.

Today is a good day to make choices that support my needs over time. Today is a good day for smiles that linger, and a feeling of contentment. Today is a good day for sufficiency, and the pleasure in simple things. Today is a good day to change my world. (There are still verbs involved…and your results may vary.)


I got moved into my new place over the Memorial Day weekend. Movers came and went, and my travelling partner gave me a hand on moving day by taking a look around the house and spotting some things I missed when I carefully sifted through a shared household of more than two years, attempting to gently extricate myself and my household goods from the life I would be leaving behind. All that remains is to move my aquarium later this week. I am surprised at how much I miss my fish.

There was little sadness to it for me; it was a long time coming. I need space to paint, uninterrupted time to write and to meditate, and prefer to live in an environment of reciprocal courtesy, consideration, and shared values – or alone. I don’t cohabitate easily with others, and I am pleased to be at a place in life where choosing not to is quite acceptable.  I handled most of the move entirely alone, aside from the movers – that was eerie, and by far the most disturbing thing about the move was the peculiar way the household withdrew from me in the days prior to moving day. Aside from noticing it, though, there really wasn’t time to invest in that experience emotionally. There was too much to do to allow myself to be distracted by emotional bullshit or games.

In the nights leading up to moving day my sleep became disturbed and restless. Fatigue was a probable culprit in the few emotional moments I did struggle with on moving day. I’m still not sleeping deeply, or through the night, yet. It may be some time before I get to that place; there are new shadows, and new noises, and in the dim of night the shapes of things are no longer familiar. I’ve stubbed my toes several times, and my shins are black and blue from walking into things that are not where I expect them to be. I am in familiar territory here, and this will pass as my implicit memory of my living space improves over time. I am at least getting the rest I need, nightly, and I am not anxious when I am wakeful.

Simple beauty

Wild roses along a new path.

So…here I am…in my wee home, surrounded by paintings not yet hung, and silence – well, at least right now it is very still and quiet. It is just past 4:00 am, and the loudest thing I hear is my tinnitus. I woke around 2:30 am. Meditation didn’t ease me back to sleep. I am in pain, and although yoga helped relax me, and ease the pain, it did nothing to improve the odds of going back to sleep, tonight. I tried another strategy or two or three…and laughed out loud in the darkness when I realized that there was no chance getting up would disturb anyone else, now. 🙂 One luxury of living alone; my restless nights don’t mean a restless night for anyone else.

With so many things about living alone, so far, it is the ease that stands out. I have come too far to make assumptions that I will remain in a state of continuous contentment, or that I will never feel lonely, insecure or fearful. I have no expectation of perfect uninterrupted delight, or heightened satisfaction in all things. Assumptions and expectations hold so much potential to wreck a good experience, or to mislead me. I am content, for now, with simply being, and taking time to sort out who I am, and what I want and need from my experience of myself. I am enjoying the luxury of living alone, and I do so knowing I am quite human – there will be dark days, moments of sadness and doubt, and I will surely cry tears that I don’t see coming, sooner or later. I’m okay right now, though.

There is still a lot to sort out to get my new place in shape to paint without making a mess of things – and I’m eager to be painting again. Now that the move itself is behind me, it’s time to figure out new routines, and new self-care timing. Many of the cues and reminders I have counted on have been associated with shared experiences, or the behavior and activity of others. Hot flashes this morning remind me that I will have to rely on myself much more…and I obviously overlooked my hormones last night. I pause to drink water, take medication, and set calendar reminders and alarms. One miss is a mistake, and oversight – missing regularly, or chronically, would be a choice. Yep. There are still verbs involved.

I don’t enjoy living with most people, my traveling partner is a rare exception and I definitely miss him, often. I realized some time over the weekend, as I unpacked so many things that matter to me…I’d been missing me for a long while, too, and I am very much enjoying living with me, now. Right now, it is enough. 🙂

Sometimes the least familiar path is most promising.

Sometimes the least familiar path is most promising.

I’ll be moving over the next day or two, and while I am sure I will have plenty to say about it I am also aware that all that can keep another day or two besides, and that once I power down my laptop for the last time before the movers arrive tomorrow, it will be a week before my internet connectivity exists outside my phone, or my office. I could tether and go on with writing, but instead I will take a break, enjoy some down time, and focus on the tasks and process at hand.

If you are missing me, in the interim, and we’re associates offline, please email me or phone or reach out on Facebook; all those things are at my fingertips most of the time. (It is the 21st century, after all.)  If your sole connection to me is through these words, and you find yourself missing the sound of my voice, please check out the Reading List or play a nice hand or two of blog post roulette – I sometimes find some lovely moments lurking in past posts.

I’m ready and excited to move. I feel capable, and the time spent planning has paid off enormously. I will miss these few still moments in the morning, writing over my coffee, even for the handful of days that I am away from it. It is a valued self-care practice, and a lovely nurturing routine, for me. I do have others, and they will get their turn to shine this week. 🙂  I hope your moments are well-chosen, and that you take care of you. Enjoy the journey!

See you on the other side…

I will, thanks. :-)

I will, thanks. 🙂