It’s after noon. I am making another cup of coffee; it’s a process that will go much faster once I actually turn on the stove to heat the water. 🙂 I have a  headache, and a feeling of bone-deep fatigue that has crept over me since I woke some 5 hours ago.

Generally speaking, the errands setting up the new week are already behind me; I could just stop now, and relax if I choose, without any ill consequence being obviously predictable. Even the grocery shopping for the upcoming week, based on a definite shift in nutritional and calorie content, is completed – at least I think it is, from the vantage point of here, now, and not hungry. There are still things on my ‘to do list’ – but there always are. These days that’s generally a weekly versus daily list, and I pluck things from the list parked on Sunday’s calendar all week long. Figuring out how I use my time, idealized for my own needs living alone, is an ongoing process.

Healthier options include growing my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Healthier options include growing some of my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Figuring out food is an ongoing process too. I like to eat well, and have impulse control issues; it’s not an ideal combination for my longer term health and fitness. As a treat tonight, and to use the remainder of an open box of pasta, I plan to have a simple meal of pasta tossed with Greek seasoning, cubes of fresh goat cheddar, and delicious ripe grape tomatoes and zucchini from my garden. The pantry is stocked with healthy things. The ingredients on hand do not easily support recipes for rich calorie-laden sweets. The ‘fruit bowl’ on the counter has just enough fruit to consume during the week, and durable veggies like onions, sweet potatoes, and not-yet-ripe avocados. Any attempt to over-indulge in sweets, desserts, or calorie-rich exotic meals will be thwarted by the lack of suitable ingredients on hand. 🙂 Additional effort as time-delay works well for me, and is a favored form of ‘positive self-sabotage’; if I have to go to the store for a bunch of stuff to make something ‘special’, I’m pretty likely to default to healthier options as I think it through during the ‘planning stage’.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

These are pretty mundane sorts of observations, I know. The weekend winds down finding me feeling discontent with the outcome of a number of details, and rather than sink deeper into an irritable funk, I figured I’d just talk through some of the things that are going pretty well. 😉

The headache finds me listening to much quieter music this afternoon. It is another way I am treating myself well, after a very late and somewhat disappointing night. The coffee helps with the headache, and I take time to review my self-care checklist and get on track with practices that I know support my day-to-day feeling of wellness and contentment: writing and meditation are the two big ones in this moment.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

It is often the case if I am feeling discontent, disconnected, or dissatisfied, it is meditation that helps most, and most quickly. There’s some amusement in that for me; as little as 2 and a half years ago I would have said that meditation ‘doesn’t work for me’ and that ‘I’ve tried that’. I could not have been more mistaken. I was completely overlooking the varied sorts and styles of meditation that exist, and that they do not all achieve the same end, or function in the same way. I didn’t understand the nature of practicing the practices, or that meditation is a practice, not a task to complete with a goal of ‘mastery’ to achieve success. I held on to the understanding of meditation as a noun, and I was not yet acquainted with the understanding that it is most certainly very much a verb.

I meditate a lot. I don’t have a commitment to fancy guided meditations, or very particular structured routines dependent on a unique seating arrangement or location. I don’t follow a set specific approach trademarked by one learned elder or another. I haven’t learned a foreign language to describe what I am doing or to receive profound teachings from an expert from afar. I don’t travel to a studio to meditate with a group, or spend any money on my meditation practice. I have not actually “progressed” beyond that simplest of meditations focused on breath, for my day-to-day anytime-I-need-it meditation. It’s that simple, honestly, and that effective – it is enough [for me]. Being present, seated comfortably, focused on my breath, just being, and allowing myself to become still within is so simple…it only requires practice, and also some practice, and perhaps beyond that a bit of an investment in practicing… It sounds so simple, as verbs go, ‘to meditate’… My mind wanders. I come back to my breath. Thoughts crowd in, and feelings build around them. I come back to my breath. I find myself fidgeting sometimes, like a child, I bring my focus back to my breath. At some point…there is no more struggle, and I simply am. It does require practice. It sounds ‘easier’ than it ‘is’…but it isn’t manual labor, and any frustration is itself simply another feeling coming up, and I return to my breath when it does. Does this all sound very ‘pointless’ or repetitive? That’s okay, too. It gets me what I need; stillness, and a calm within that builds emotional resilience over time, and slowly teaches me perspective while it somehow insulates my reactive nervous system from the effect of small things going awry. “Meditation works for me.” This is what I mean by that (if that’s vague or annoying grammatically, please imagine I have drawn a red arrow back to the start of the paragraph). 🙂

Few things are more annoying that a venue filled with people on their phones while an artist is performing; I took this picture before the performance began, and decided to put my phone away and just be there, in the moment.

I took this picture before the performance began, then decided to put my phone away and be fully present in the moment.

I am tired and short on sleep today. The concert, itself, was a bit disappointing and I chose to leave before the band I went to see even played; I was in too much pain to wait through the tedium as the opening act continued to recycle tired beats for yet another hour (3 hours was enough). By midnight, it was no longer worth the time or discomfort to remain at the venue as it became progressively more crowded, and stifling hot on top of my own pain. Disappointed? Sure. Annoyed, mostly. If there had been adequate expectation setting in the advertising that the headliner would not go on stage until after midnight I’d have planned accordingly and gone much later.  Worse, the opening act spent the last hour repeatedly playing what sounded like the end of his set, and behaving as though he was wrapping things up…then continuing. That was actually having an emotional effect on many of the people around me, as well; no one was there to see the opening act, and we were all eager to see the headliner. Still, it was an evening out, and that was itself an adventure that was generally quite positive and fun. Tales for another time, perhaps.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

The simplest practices that sustain and nurture me are often the ones I am most keenly aware of when I miss a step; this morning, waking with some eager enthusiasm for the day, I rushed off on errands without taking time for meditation, for writing, or even for a second cup of coffee. I’ve felt vaguely irritated and rushed ever since. There’s a lesson there, and it’s time to catch up – and slow down. 🙂