I finally gave in to sleep a little earlier than usual last night. I set my alarm for a couple of hours later than usual, ensuring that I would be up early enough for plans, and also able to fully relax and just sleep until I woke, knowing there was an alarm set. I didn’t expect to wake to the alarm – it would amount to 10 hours of sleep! lol

Then...night.

Then…night.

…The beeping of the alarm continued for sometime until I realized it was a real, actual, ongoing sound reaching me. I woke slowly, and without stress – or any particularly grogginess – and feeling very restored. (Go sleep!!) My first moments today have been quite delightful. I greeted myself in the mirror this morning with a rather astonishing spontaneous moment of contentment and calm joy. I found myself gazing upon this relaxed, beautiful, curvaceous woman – clearly adult, wearing it well, smiling softly, plump with sensuous curves – an odalisque, a goddess, a warrior, a sage, a woman. Damn. 🙂 A lovely moment of recognition, acknowledgement, and enjoyment – all from within – is an excellent way to begin a day and I strongly recommend it (your experience, and your results, may vary). I stretched, smiled at my reflection, and ran my hands over curves that defied a lifetime of dieting before I finally yielded to the inevitability of being beautifully curvy, and discovered the wonders of beauty’s variety and splendor – beautiful curves don’t stop strong lean athletic angles from being beautiful, too.  As with art – there are many sorts of beauty, all quite beautiful to someone.

I am sipping my coffee and enjoying being comfortable for the moment – whether I am actually having a rare pain-free day (or moment) or merely in a position in which my pain is eased is irrelevant right now; I am relaxed and feeling comfortable, and letting it be what it is. Seems worth enjoying for as long as it lasts. Enjoying what feels good is an excellent practice – simple, and of course, there are verbs involved. 🙂

A really first-rate practice I picked up a couple of years ago, and continue with even now, because it just matters that much day-to-day, is taking the time to genuinely enjoy the best moments life offers, however, humble, complicated, or fleeting. The ‘negative bias’ human primates are equipped with tends to color our implicit memory far beyond what we’re aware of – and that colors our entire experience. I don’t need to practice dwelling on some awkward or uncomfortable moment, I don’t have to practice going over a troubling bit of conversation in my mind a hundred times, or practice obsessing over some detail of mistreatment in the course of a lifetime; my primate brain will make sure I do these things without any prompting or practice by me. On the other side of things, so often the best bits are glossed over – they have much less ‘survival improvement potential’ to be gleaned from further review… but… when we rush past the wonders of life, the excitement of a romantic moment, or even a fleeting moment of self-approval reflected in the mirror, we continue to build and enhance only the negative bias in our implicit memory. The practice I learned to practice is to specifically and willfully take the time to savor and reflect on beautiful moments, great emotional experiences, wonders, joys, things of beauty, gratitude – all manner of pleasant, joyful, delightful things honestly. All of them. I take real time out of my day to focus on the good stuff, to relish it, to enjoy the thought and memory of it, to share it out loud as a storyteller – building on the positive in my implicit memory has been a large component of slowly shifting my background ‘ambient experience’ away from one heavily weighted toward stressful vigilance, fear, and frustration, and the avoidance and prevention of those experiences. (As it turns out, they are far easier to prevent when I’m not so focused on them as commonplace, too.) Try it – take a moment for you, and think over something wonderful that happened recently – big or small, doesn’t matter – and really recall it in detail, feel the good feelings, and imagine they are soaking through you as you consider this lovely moment. You probably won’t notice anything much except that it’s nice to think about something pleasant, and emotionally nurturing to appreciate our experience. It’s a practice; incremental change over time is a real outcome. 😉 I will observe that this is one of my most favorite practices, feels great to do, and… well… I am not very like the woman I was 3 years ago, and this practice is one of the more profound (if simple) changes I have made in that time.

Let me be clear for a moment, really frank with you; I’m not promoting any practice I practice, or treatment method, or means of [emotionally] getting ahead in life for my own financial gain. (Not yet, anyway… lol) Most of these practices are not of my own creation. My reading list (see up there at the top, or in the ‘menu’ drop down?) has the source for most of them. In this particular case, several sources recommend savoring pleasant moments in some form or another – I practice it as a practice. You can find it, and many other great practices, more clearly explained and with references cited (yep, there’s science on this stuff), in The Happiness Trap, Tiny Buddha, Hardwiring Happiness, or Get Some Headspace. All fantastic starting points for improving one’s outlook on life or self.  I’m not pushing you – I’m just saying, I think you’re [probably] awesome [definitely human!] and I am eager for you to enjoy everything about living your life. (Almost exactly what I said to the woman in the mirror, more than 3 years ago – a lot more than three years, really – it took awhile to get to this morning, and a wonderful moment with the woman in the mirror.)

🙂

My coffee this morning is tasty, well-made by a woman who really cares about me, and whose company and turn-of-mind (and phrase) I genuinely enjoy. The day seems to unfold ahead of me pleasantly, without anxiety, or pressure, well-planned and comfortable; learning not to over-commit myself has been another good way of taking care of me.

Distractions and obstacles take a lot of forms... I'm fortunate when the path is obvious. :-)

Distractions and obstacles take a lot of forms… I’m fortunate when the path is obvious. 🙂

Today is a good day to practice practices that have taken me so far – so far. Today is a good day to smile at strangers – aren’t they people, too? Today is a good day to be patient with myself, and with my companions on this strange projectile hurtling through time and space. Today is a good day to enjoy the journey, and stay on the path. 🙂