Archives for the month of: June, 2015

This morning I chose meditation over coffee. It’s not as if I’m going to skip the coffee, there’s time for both on most any morning. Generally coffee gets to the head of the line as soon as my eyes open, but this morning I woke, somewhat groggy, pleased to have slept through the night, but feeling some nagging sense of ‘being unsettled’ that I have come to associate with ‘needing to meditate’. I am beginning to learn self-care in real-time response to needs (before they become crises, or events), allowing habits to be infrastructure instead of relying on them utterly. Incremental progress over time.

One coffee, one moment - but the picture is not the beverage.

One coffee, one moment – but the picture is not the beverage.

Choices matter. Meditation calms me, and sweeps in stillness and a feeling of being centered, where I had felt some vague unease when I woke. Change sometimes makes me feel uneasy, even positive changes. I enjoyed time in the company of the wanderer last night, and ended the evening feeling well-cared for, in the context of great affection and high regard. It was a lovely evening. It was a good time, and I’m still smiling. I likely woke uneasy as I struggled with my baggage, and having given priority to meditation first thing, I get to the part of the morning where coffee is a thing feeling content, calm, and that things are right in my world.

A different coffee, another day - and a question; why do I have so many pictures of coffee?

A different coffee, another day – and a question; why do I have so many pictures of coffee?

Balance matters, in relationships and in life, and I find myself eager to exchange morning greetings with my traveling partner, and find out how his evening was, and share smiles and Love before the workday starts. If we lived a bit closer, if he were likely to be up at this hour, if there were no commuter traffic…I would invite him to join me for morning coffee. It is a morning that I would greatly enjoy his charm, his affection and his conversation. It hints at lingering remnants of unhealthy co-dependence that when my phone hums a notification, I check to see if it is from my traveling partner, with a hint of disappointment attached to each coupon offer that arrives. There is still work to do. I have plenty to learn about life, about love, about treating others – and myself – truly well. It’s not the eagerness to hear from him that is the sign of co-dependence; Love is eager. It’s the subtle anxiety that results from not hearing from him, although there is no explicit expectation that I will, or requirement that I must, and no need to feel anxious, at all, that causes my concern about co-dependent behavior and thinking. Baggage – and not even baggage associated with my traveling partner! How unfair is that? I’m still carrying baggage from other relationships, in which I was treated poorly, manipulated and punished with jealousy, and petty possessiveness, and confused with ever-changing rules that could not be mastered and benefited no one. That is not now. I smile and the anxiety eases; this is a different life, in the company of well-chosen friends and lovers. There is nothing to fear aside from allowing fear to drive my decision-making, or color my experience. 🙂

It's not about half full or half empty - I'd rather consider 'is it enough?'

It’s not about half full or half empty – I’d rather consider ‘is it enough?’

I sip my coffee and think of 18-year-old me, heading for adulthood and innocently thinking that I could simply choose to be who I am, and joy would be waiting for me. My optimism didn’t last – and no wonder; it was built on a foundation of chaos and damage, and wishful thinking. I lacked the skills I would need to live the life I wanted, and lacked the awareness of my lack of skill. Life’s obstacles at that age seemed so personal, and so targeted. The “world” wasn’t ready for me, either – and I lacked the experience I would gain over time that now allows me to stand, facing the world with a smile, and say “you don’t need to be more ready than  you  are; this is who I am”. I don’t regret leaving youth behind, when I think about how damnably awkward and unsatisfying it was at the time. lol

A picture that isn't coffee, selected in error - and a great metaphor for gnosis; we are often right on top of the illumination we seek, unaware we have all we need to be enlightened.

A picture that isn’t coffee, selected in error – and a great metaphor for gnosis; we are often right on top of the illumination we seek, unaware we have all we need to be enlightened.

I am still a student, and life’s curriculum is endlessly rich, continuous, variable, repetitive, complex, obvious, wonder-filled, and sometimes studded with frustrations and disappointments. There is a lot to learn. I’m fortunate that I have so many opportunities to learn lessons about Love, love, and loving; I have a lot to learn, and a great deal of enthusiasm for the topic. Being as passionate and involved with the woman I spend the most time with (me) has been a very big deal for teaching me skills that I can put to work loving others. It’s a bit puzzling that I get to this place in part through making the choice to live alone… It is what I need for myself, right now. traveling partner makes an amazing latte. Of course I miss that. :-)

Mmm…my traveling partner makes an amazing latte. Of course I miss that. 🙂

I do miss living with my traveling partner, especially in the morning. There’s something quite wonderful about being able to reach for him and find him there, or sharing small delights in the moment. Still, the challenges of the bit of distance are worth mastering to once again experience compersion as his relationship with his other partner improves, and to once again experience the great delight of novelty in our own experience together; passion loathes boredom or complacency. For now, my progress in therapy needs some space to maintain momentum, and my injury was getting in the way of meeting my traveling partner’s needs (and limiting his ability to meet mine). No regrets over taking a break from cohabitation, at all…although I do miss my traveling partner in the morning, over my second cup of coffee. 🙂

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. :-)

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. 🙂

Today is a good day to enjoy each moment exactly as it is, and make good choices for the moments to come. Today is a good day to listen deeply; we are each having our own experience, and each with our own story to tell. Today is a good day to connect, to share, to be. Today is a good day for Love, love, and loving. Today is a good day to include myself when I act on intentions to treat others well. Today is a good day to be the student.

This morning I woke with some effort after a night of fractured sleep. I crashed early, and indulged my fatigue and sleepiness by allowing myself to stray from my routine. Once in a while that’s not a big deal, but each and every time I can make such a choice it is a certainty there will be consequences. This is how choices work, generally. 🙂 I started sleeping easily in my new place, then a very fatiguing week drove some choices to sleep at times I wouldn’t typically choose sleep…and now my routine is disrupted such that I’m not actually sleeping well during the night. Oops. It’s a bit of a beginner’s mistake with regard to good self-care, but being a proper grown up, and living alone, I’m the only one here to remind me to take care of me well and consistently. I’m very fortunate that I learn best from my mistakes. I make quite a few.

Last night I crashed so early that I had likely gotten a full measure of restful sleep by the time I woke sometime after 1:30 am. I meditated for some time. It was nearer 3:00 am when I checked the clock. I found sleep again at some point, and I know this for certain because the alarm woke me…I was dreaming that I was awake. (One of my least favorite sleep experiences is dreaming that I am awake.) This morning I am enjoying my coffee gently and giving consideration to self-care practices that I may be more inclined to let slip than others, and what steps to take to ensure that I do not, and wondering how realistic it is to attempt to manage my self-care through awareness and intent alone (which is something I am trying to learn) – the practices reinforced with calendar reminders, sticky notes, and habit are more likely to be reliably maintained. One limitation my TBI places on me as an individual is that habits sometimes just…fail. I wake up one day and have simply ‘forgotten’ somehow some key habitual behavior. It’s quite frustrating sometimes. Add to that my unreliable memory – things that are habitual sometimes don’t leave an impression on my consciousness, and I don’t remember having done them, or lack awareness that I have not. I have occasionally been startled to realize (in some cases weeks or months after the fact) that I simply abandoned some very helpful practice without any particular cause or decision-making – I just forgot. Rebuilding a favored, forgotten, practice or habit is no easier than it was to build in the first place. The importance of a given habit, or practice, has no correlation or apparent causal relationship to the potential I may wander off and forget about it – it seems pretty random.

This morning I am very much aware that living alone requires me to be quite mindful of my self-care practices. In the excitement of making myself at home, and exploring this whole ‘who I am now’ thing, habits are very much at risk of being extinguished without intent. Small things like a ‘bed time’ that nurtures my long-term good cognition and physical health actually matter – making exceptions for this circumstance or that one is ‘high risk behavior’ from the perspective of managing my PTSD, and treating myself well. Details that are very much part of my sense of ‘being at home’ are easily pushed to the side in favor of something more fun, sometimes, especially if I am excited or fatigued, with the result that I may find myself unexpectedly not feeling at home in my own environment – because I have failed to take care of me.

Fruit ripens in its own time.

Fruit ripens in its own time.

This one is not such a complicated puzzle; I will choose to practice the practices that work for me – even those associated with keeping me on task with practicing other practices. 🙂 I don’t find any particular need to be embarrassed or critical of myself on this point, either. I feel pretty capable of taking care of me; I spotted a weakness, and I am considering how best to shore it up, improve upon it, or solve for X.

Tonight I will spend time learning life’s lessons about taking care of me, while also enjoying the company of another. There’s quite a lot to learn there. Today is a good day for continuing education.

I had an awesome weekend. I learned a thing or two about how far I’ve come – and how far I have yet to go. I enjoyed feeling a new relationship become more than it was, and I enjoyed feeling a cherished relationship of some years become better than it has been. My own experience of me feels improved; I am more myself, and more comfortable in my own skin.

Like a flower, blooming when conditions are right.

Like a flower, blooming when conditions are right.

Yesterday being a ‘rest day’ by choice, I didn’t hesitate to crash when fatigue caught up with me, even though it was quite early in the evening when I crawled into bed and got comfortable with my kindle (telling myself it was not likely I would sleep so early). Minutes later I was asleep. I woke later, very briefly – long enough to smile in the dark and set my kindle on the nightstand, and return to slumber. I drifted off thinking, quite contentedly, “is this what wellness feels like?”

At 2:37 am I woke abruptly, fully alert, tense, and wary. I remained very still in the darkness, senses heightened, listening…there was something strange about the silence that didn’t satisfy me. Then I heard the clunk of the patio door being tested, and found to be locked. I lay quietly for some minutes more, aware, alert, and waiting. For what? For trouble that didn’t come, thankfully. There was no emotional feeling of panic, and aside from the physical state of arousal and readiness to fight, or defend myself, all was well and remained so. Another day, in another year, I would have been unable to remain in bed or even consider further sleep. This morning was quite different. Sure, I still have PTSD. I still have symptoms: nightmares, panic attacks, occasional wildly unrealistic fears of events that are not now, extreme emotional volatility – and my startle reflex is a very real thing; none of it is everyday, now. In the sense, and to the degree, that these things are true and real in  my experience, I am clearly not entirely ‘well’…but I have come so far, so quickly!

My night’s sleep was not ruined, I did not fret in the darkness frightened for hours, weeping and trembling, running through all the what-if scenarios of terror and trauma that could potentially be, with shortness of breath, and unable to manage my emotions. Actually, it was a very different experience. I was alert to a threat that may have been quite legitimate; someone unknown to me tried my patio door in the wee hours, for an unknown reason. That the door is routinely kept locked, and was locked this morning, minimized any likelihood that getting my door open would have further value, and my unit is close to both the Manager’s unit and the street, and well-lit. My awareness of these details provided me with adequate anchor to my safe and comfortable ‘here and now’, resting quietly in the darkness, that I was able to return to sleep with relative ease, and little concern, waking rested at the usual time, without any lingering anxiety. (Hours later, this still seems remarkable to me.)

I am pleased to see the outcome of real growth evident in real-life circumstances that would once have really messed with my head, and my emotions. I take time this morning to appreciate growth and change, and the value of practicing good practices for improving emotional balance, emotional self-sufficiency, and reducing the recovery time needed to step back from a stressful moment. There were no miracles, no fast fixes, no cures, and no slight of hand; I’ve been working at this now for years. That’s what it takes – at least for me – and sometimes it seems slow going. (Note to self: It’s totally worth it.)

...And then there's love and coffee.

…And then there’s love and coffee.

My traveling partner surprised me with a visit yesterday. We’d connected over email in the early morning, and it seemed unlikely we’d be hanging out in person, based on that discussion. I wasn’t discontent, or unhappy about that, and I knew my calendar was entirely filled for the day – with nothing. Oh, sure, I did a small bit of light gardening, made my bed, and did my dishes, but I took my rest day quite seriously, and spent it mostly on enjoying my aquarium, meditation, reading, and yoga. When I got the phone call later that he would be heading my way, if I cared to enjoy his company, I was delighted and pleasantly surprised. These are emotions that complement each other nicely. He’s a very considerate partner, too, and knowing that I might have other company makes a point to verify that he is truly welcome before coming around. I have learned a lot about good manners among adults from my traveling partner.

Growth is a funny thing, though, it is as continuous as I allow it to be. In the same moment I celebrate my satisfaction with my  own growth, good qualities, I also find myself recognizing where further study will have value, and small things where I subtly miss the mark on being the woman I most want to be. An example? I struggle with telling lovers, or others I care for deeply, ‘it’s time to go’ – I have difficulty expressing ‘departure times’. I don’t mean I have difficulty saying “I’m headed out, see you next time!” – those are fairly easy for me. I am not nearly as skilled at saying, in a gentle way that conveys only love, “It’s been lovely, see you next time – do you have all your stuff?” and taking the remainder of my day back. I definitely don’t want to convey an impression of unwelcomeness (and I dread that I might)!  Worse still – I’m incredibly unskilled at recognizing I am at that point before they do!

I’m fortunate that my traveling partner is generally very accepting of my ineptitude in these areas of life – he’s familiar with the quantity of chaos and damage, and what the shards are made of – and he’s patient, encouraging, and sometimes amused, more often than he is wounded. He’s that rare lover who actually does speak up about life and love in honest simple ways “I like it this way…” “this generally feels better than that, to me…” “you may find ____ more successful in those circumstances…” and “what can I do to help you here?” I have learned more about communicating love in this man’s arms than from all the books I have ever read. This weekend, I learned that I will love with more skill when I also learn to set limits on my time with more honesty and from a place of much greater self-awareness (which is needed to be more honest. 🙂 ) Something to work on. (There always is.)

It isn't necessary to make the journey quickly, as much as it is to be present along the way.

It isn’t necessary to make the journey quickly, as much as it is to be present along the way.

It’s a good morning to reflect on what works – and recognize what doesn’t without being hard on myself. Today is a good day to celebrate growth – and continued growth; the journey is the destination. Today is a good day for love, and for fun, and for smiles between strangers. Today is a good day to change the world.


Rest is important for growth, for healing, and for quality of life. You can look it up if you need to verify it, there’s science on the topic. Yesterday was an excellent Saturday, but ‘restful’ would not accurately describe the day’s fun. Today there is nothing on my calendar, aside the daily sorts of chores that  maintain order: dishes, changing the linens, vacuuming. I have not yet made any decisions about what to do with the minutes and hours ahead of me, today. Today will be good practices and taking it easy. The overcast morning was explanation enough for the backache I woke with, although I admit with a smile that yesterday’s fun could also have some part to play in today’s backache. A rest day is clearly in order.


Some other day, some other flower.

It took time to become comfortable with setting clear boundaries with regard to taking care of me. (Your results may vary.) It wasn’t that people dear to me didn’t want me to do the things required to live well, comfortably, and feel good day-to-day, and I don’t find it healthy for me to make that kind of negative assumption about someone else’s thinking. (My traveling partner supports good self-care on a level that shows he understands how important it is, and did so long before I understood, myself, why I needed to practice some of the practices I now do, for example, but if I am trapped in a very dark mood I may lose perspective; I continue to find The Four Agreements a helpful read there, when my perspective on others is bleak.). Sometimes I have the greatest challenge setting the boundaries I need because I am, myself, prone to stomping all over my boundaries in a most inconsiderate and surprisingly callous fashion. There’s definitely a learning curve – and I’m on the slow end. I have improved, however, and I am eager to enjoy a relaxed day of rest, meditation, catching up on correspondence, yoga, reading – or whatever it is the day brings my way that is nurturing, and likely to ‘recharge my batteries’ for the week to come.


We bloom where we thrive.

Generally, any apparent boundary stomping disregard or discourtesy I am likely to experience day-to-day is at the hands of someone with their attention focused so fixedly on their own agenda that others aren’t fully considered, or at all, and occasionally by those that just haven’t reached that point in life where they understand the value of self-care in their own experience, and are thus poorly equipped to respect the needs of others. They need my compassion more than my ire, and I only need to be mindfully aware that my choices matter, and continue to take care of me, communicating explicitly and gently where my boundaries and limits are. Sometimes, far more rarely, people are exploitative abusive dicks who don’t care. My best practice in that situation is to double-check that I am taking care of me, and walk on, cutting my losses without further investment. There have been moments when I have treated someone poorly, myself, or crossed a boundary inconsiderately. I’m not bragging, obviously – I’m just saying; it’s a very human experience. Being the best woman I can be – being the best of the woman I am, and that I aspire to be, means I choose differently with awareness in every moment I can maintain the awareness I need to do so. Practice matters a great deal; it doesn’t make perfect, but it does build incremental change over time. 🙂


Unique and individual as flowers in a garden, each having our own experience, none of us so very different from the others, except for perspective, and all sorts of details. 🙂

Today I don’t fight the world for the rest I need; I fight myself, and the tendency to fill a day with things to do, rather than indulge in rest that stillness has to offer. The reluctance to slow things down and gently enjoy the day seeps in from all corners; I live in what tends to be a very activity-prone culture that places high value on productive output, and scoffs at treating oneself with humane regard for this fragile vessel in which we pass our time in mortal experience. I may go for a walk today. I may do some gardening. What I most certainly will do, though, is take care of me. 🙂


Taking care of the garden of my heart matters, too.

Yesterday was quite lovely, and my smile still lingers. It has the feeling of a tumbler clicking into place on a very fancy lock, or as if a difficult to place puzzle piece happens to fit quite nicely with unexpected ease. Yesterday took me most definitely further in the direction of being more myself, and quite comfortably and contentedly so. My relationships with those dear to me feel comfortable, and meaningful. My relationship to myself is not undermined by my relationships with others. I feel at home in my apartment, and in my skin. This feels good – and balanced. Whether I see my traveling partner or the wanderer today will not change this very nice experience I am building with me – and this is a journey I have been wanting to take, needing to take, for a very long time.


Love matters most – the love I give myself is not excluded.

Today is a good day to be free of baggage – I’ll just set that all right over here. Today is a good day for smiles that linger, and a good cup of coffee. Today is a good day for morning breezes, and birdsong. Today is a good day to enjoy the world as I create it. 🙂

Saturday is finally here. It was a longer than usual work week, with longer than usual days. I intend to set very firm boundaries about over-work, but it’s a small team, and vacation time gets covered whatever that takes. By the time I got home last night, I was exhausted, and ready for a quiet night. I managed to push myself through laundry and self-care basics, and spent the rest of the evening quietly, reading. I crashed pretty early, and slept through night – hell, I ‘slept in’ more than an hour past the time my alarm usually wakes me, and woke feeling rested, the work week finally behind me. 🙂

This morning there are a couple of light chores to take care of, and I’ll spend some time in the garden before the heat of the day. I may hang a painting that is nagging my consciousness for a place to be. Sipping my morning coffee, I wonder if it fails to satisfy because I am looking forward to having coffee with the wanderer, later this morning.

A change in perspective is generally  worthwhile.

Looking forward to Saturday in good company.

I dither a while over my rather mediocre morning coffee wondering if I should go back and check every use of ‘traveling partner’ – should those all be capitalized? What about ‘the wanderer’? Capitalized? No? I wonder if I have been consistent – it’s the potential lack of consistency that grates on my nerves most. Do I yield to the sensation and let it drive my behavior? Do I allow myself to react to it? If I do, how far back ‘should’ I go? Any? lol I quickly move on to wondering why I am even allowing my consciousness to pick at this point – do I actually even care one way or the other? Well…maybe….if it results in not being understood…am I being understood, I wonder? I sip my coffee and wonder how I managed to make such a relatively poor cup of coffee on such a lovely morning. Then I wonder how important it actually is for each reader to clearly identify the wanderer and my traveling partner in this narrative as specific people identified thus…maybe that’s only important to me? (It isn’t likely I’d forget.) I sit here considering a trivial point of grammar (yeah, I said it), and realize that it is more important to me that the choice be mine, whatever the outcome, and since I already have that I lose interest in the internal discussion and move on.

There have been a lot of things lately where the outcome of some choice was less important to me than that the choice be my own, in the moment. Sounds a tad child-like in some fashion, and I don’t allow myself to be berated (by myself) over it; it also seems a natural enough developmental step to find myself taking on this journey. I am flexing my will a bit, perhaps, but after a lifetime of over-compromise and de-prioritizing myself and my needs, it seems appropriate to take the opportunity living alone presents to live my own life, and the outcome of my own choices, more fully. Sometimes it plays out predictably enough; perhaps I find myself wanting cookies, I bake cookies, I over-indulge on the cookies, I find myself annoyed with feeling over-full on cookies, and moody from too much sugar….all my choices, all my actions, definitely no potential for blame-laying, or being annoyed with someone else, but the actions/reactions lack the developed control and will an adult might ideally show. I continue practicing specific practices that focus on self-restraint – learning skills that limit the effect of having a disinhibiting brain injury, and do so without resulting in frustration or discontent, and rely less on habitual behavior than good decision-making. Yesterday, in the morning, I made cookies, because I wanted healthier sweets on hand. I did not over-indulge. This morning there is a container full of cookies, and they may last days, although I made batches appropriately sized for solo-living. Practicing good practices results in improved outcomes. I like that phrase better than ‘practice makes perfect’, although it is less quippy, and no doubt less effective as an aphorism or ad slogan than the old stand-by.

Sometimes the journey is an uphill climb.

Sometimes the journey is an uphill climb.

There is no room in my day-to-day experience for guilt, shame, or emotional self-flagellation over the picayune details of everyday life. My rules, my home, my way…and I take a moment over my gradually cooling mediocre morning coffee to consider how long overdue this experience is for me, and how little self-possession and consideration I’ve allowed for myself, from myself, for so many years. Better to indulge, to err, to learn, eyes wide to what my experience can teach me, and prepared with self-acceptance and rational accountability to grow and move forward. This may mean the occasional mediocre cup of coffee – but it also means fresh cookies, sleeping in, long showers, and happy laughter when I master a new yoga pose. Choices matter a lot – giving myself the freedom to enact my will through action is pretty huge, too.

I am finding my way home.

I am finding my way home.

This is a much less anxious place to be. It’s a much less angry place to be. The undercurrent of subtle continuous resentment and the sense of being imposed upon almost continuously by rules external to my own thinking and practices are dissipating. Instead, I smile a lot, and I feel content much of the time. I make my own choices – and sometimes change my mind with new information, or experience a less than ideal outcome, or find  my understanding of circumstances has changed. I don’t rush myself to get a faster decision made to avoid inconveniencing someone else. I don’t think I know how to have this experience in the context of living with others – not yet – but I have the glimmer of an idea of what that might require of me. Realistically, cohabitation may not be ‘for me’ with the issues I have – I’m even okay with that, from the vantage point of a lovely Saturday morning, content, calm and smiling over my coffee. For now, this journey is about will and action, action and reaction, and practicing the practices that help me on my way to becoming the woman I most want to be.

Today is a good day to practice The Art of Being – and there’s no doubt in my mind that that needs to be capitalized. 🙂