This morning I woke in pain; my arthritis has flared up after many days of not bothering me much at all. The hot dry days offer relief…but…it’s still hot. It’s still dry. I am in pain. I slowly rose, patient with the stiffness of my spine. This is a morning for music and dance, cool breezes be damned. I peer through the patio blinds and notice with some surprise that already the days are shortening and dawn is coming later…did I wake ahead of the alarm? I double-check. It went off. It woke me. I no longer remember hearing it. Pain is a distraction.

I start the day with Usher, and coffee. Facebook tells me my computer is infected with malware. I glare at the page with skepticism and irritation. Why is Facebook telling me what to do? I log out with a promise to myself to let my traveling partner know; I trust him, and his skills, more than any app or browser warning. Hell – the warning probably is the malware, requesting permission to get started. For the moment I find myself in contemplation of all that is unclean and vile about the internet, and my head aches with the weight of the suspicion, and distrust. The pain, again, is a distraction.

I reach for my coffee, and burn my tongue, then spill it in my lap for the added delight of hot coffee held to tender flesh by coffee soaked jeans. Seriously? Who the hell ordered this day? I snarl at myself, managing to knock over my chair as I get up, too quickly, to change clothes. The chair falls on my foot. Great. The top I wanted to wear doesn’t go with the pair of jeans I just put on. The top I’d wear instead is in the laundry. I break a nail reaching for an acceptable alternative. Are you fucking kidding me? What is up with today?

Pain is no joke. The unexpected return of significant arthritis pain this morning easily throws me off, which would be, perhaps, just a little amusing in the face of words like ‘chronic’ and ‘long-term’ – if I were in any mood whatever to laugh about it. Right now I just hurt. I hurt and I’m sort of mad at the day right now. Don’t say it. I know what works. There are practices to practice and it’s time for that. I get it. Pardon me while I take a few minutes to take care of me.

Yes, yes. I know.

Yes, yes. I know.

1. I took my medication on time, and it’ll take another 30-40 minutes to be fully effective. It only addresses the symptom: pain. There is more to do to put the day back on track.

2. Medical cannabis helps by potentiating the Rx pain reliever – and it will take the edge off my quickly deteriorating mood, and wipe the snarl off my face promptly…and make yoga easier.

3. Putting the rest of the morning aside, yoga is next, and I take my time with a long sequence of postures that lengthen and gently flex my spine, easing the pain where the pain lives. The headache begins to diminish.

4. Then, meditation – this is an Rx that goes straight to the brain, literally, and is a first/last/always step for me these days…although, sometimes, like a child resisting bedtime I fight the necessity irritably for no good reason.

5. Coffee. I take my time making a really first-rate cup of coffee for myself, and sit down to enjoy it, feeling very much that the morning has been ‘reset’.

It is once again a morning filled with music and I am smiling and sipping my coffee as contentedly as if I woke up on an entirely different morning. Choices, verbs, patience and self-compassion, and the willingness to accept that the potential to improve a poor experience exists…and practicing practices for the win. 🙂

Enjoying other moments.

Enjoying other moments.

The morning moves on, time passes, I sit quietly enjoying pictures of a walk with the wanderer after work, yesterday. If I spend more time thinking about the rough start to the morning, lingering on uncomfortable sensations, unpleasant emotions, or the difficulties themselves, than I do savoring the delights of other moments with similar depth and clarity, over time my negative bias will increase, and my ‘background experience’ will become more negative as well. I take this understanding very seriously, and commit to enjoying my coffee and thinking about the evening behind me. I linger over the recollection of finally taking a photograph of a dragonfly.

He's there, really. (I have no idea why I like dragonflies so very much, but I do.)

He’s there, really. (I have no idea why I like dragonflies so very much, but I do.)

I think, too, about the later conversation with my traveling partner, and the feeling of connection and warmth in spite of the physical distance. That takes my thoughts all sorts of lovely places, thinking about love, Love, and loving. At this point there is no hint of the morning’s challenges remaining in my experience of the moment, and I find myself ready to move on with the day.

Am I achieving emotional self-sufficiency? Do I need to ask this question now? Living the experience is, perhaps, enough.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Today is a good day for practicing practices, using verbs, and having my own experience – if it’s mine, I can change it. 🙂