Archives for the month of: June, 2016

My morning began quite gently with the rare treat of sleeping in. I emptied the dishwasher while water boiled for coffee. I made a wee celebration of turning the page on the notepad I use for my ‘to do’ list each day, flipping the page over boldly, fully disregarding anything remaining on yesterday’s page (at least for now), and then cheerily walking away from it without writing a single thing on the blank the page. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day at all – it’s still over. Entirely past. Done. Behind me. I’ve turned the page. 🙂

What's left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

What’s left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

Today my intention is to keep things simple and enjoy the day. I have committed to some general tidying up, studying, and sorting through my thoughts on a topic that inspires me both as an artist and as a writer. It may be days or weeks in the making, which feels… amazing. It is a topic that pushes me to think differently about connection, intimacy, individuality, identity, interdependence, image, authenticity, and where my value as a being truly lies.

What exactly is an 'individual', anyway?

What exactly is an ‘individual’, anyway?

This seems a nice morning for thinking thoughts, taking notes, making observations, and for balancing presence with insight gleaned from experience over time. (Caution: there are no fewer verbs involved when the work we do is within ourselves!) I enjoy intimacy, connection, communion with others; I am a social creature. I am also an emotionally injured human being. Emotional injuries are those that, whether they are also physical injuries or not, hit us in the deep down places where our being resides, seemingly safe. The result? Mental illness. Post traumatic stress. “Anger management issues.” Difficulties connecting, attaching, and being intimate. Difficulties being comfortable, trusting, being social, sharing, cohabiting. Hurt feelings. Drama. Weirdness. Strange negative assumptions and expectations. Fear. I mean…maybe not all of those, for everyone, every time, but… yeah.  The effort to clean up the chaos and damage, find a better way to live, maybe even find a way to actually thrive in life… it’s slow going, not easy, requires practice – a lot of it – and verbs – too many. (Totally worth it.) The point I think I’d like to make is that sometimes it feels as lonely and distancing to be working on cleaning up the chaos and damage, as it does to have it in the first place. That’s okay – it’s a bit of a solo hike, sometimes. It sort of has to be. 🙂

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

It’s reassuring to consider that I’m not really in this alone. I’ve felt so alone sometimes. But… Really? I’m not – it’s an illusion, one that is, itself, part of the chaos and damage, isolating me and suggesting I am too broken to be accepted as a human being, too broken even, perhaps, to be loved. My results vary, and there are verbs involved, and sometimes it seems damned slow going – but I’m learning to go beyond being warily, passively open to connection (hoping for the best, certain no good can come of it), to being willing to reach out, to actually being open. It’s a very different thing. To be open requires a measure of vulnerability and authenticity that can feel pretty scary… What if it isn’t reciprocated?? I find some solace and security in the awareness that individuality, however defined, isn’t sufficient to fully undermine how interconnected we also are as creatures; we are not alone. I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to share the journey – it’s a long one.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

This morning, I am alone with my time and my chores. Later? So not alone. 🙂 It’s ‘date night’, and I’ll spend the evening in the charming company of my traveling partner, filling my moments with love and laughter. The time has come to set aside the morning in favor of the day… Today is a good day to pause and enjoy progress over time, and to appreciate and enjoy the woman in the mirror.

This morning I woke to a welcome cloudy sky, a cool morning, and an already prepared ‘to do’ list for today. Generally that’s a comfortably pleasant experience.

A cotton candy sky ends a lovely day.

Yesterday’s cotton candy sky ends a lovely day.

This morning… I am at odds with myself, in the sense that my list and my calendar reflect a purposeful nature I’m not feeling [at the moment]. It frustrates and annoys me [before the day even properly begins]; there’s certainly nothing on my list for today that needs to be handled before 8 am. Nothing on my calendar begins before 9. I just don’t want to. I. Don’t. Want. To. I’m in no mood to adult today, thanks… only… am I not? Really? Or is it more than I’m not yet really awake, haven’t had my coffee, haven’t ‘figured me out’… and so, don’t really know what the ideal ‘order of operations’ could be… or… something? If I allow myself to accept the premise that I don’t want to adult today – will I lose the opportunity to handle my agenda skillfully, and take care of myself well? How do I best take care of me, and meet my needs over time?


Beginnings aren’t always easy. My results vary.

Yesterday, when I left the house for my planned activities, I felt purposeful and calm. When I later went to an interview, I felt eager, and a little anxious. When I returned home, I felt accomplished, productive, and ready to be at leisure for the day. I made my list then, while the things I’d need to do today were in my thoughts and fairly organized. It felt good. Natural. Comfortable. The list made sense. This morning, I haven’t even actually reviewed my list – it is still so early that there is no point (nothing on that list needs to be started before 8 am, and some of the things on that list can’t be started before 9 am); I’m not even awake yet. The awareness of the existence of the list is enough to find my consciousness shying away from all responsibility entirely – for the day. Wow. That’s clearly an over-reaction. 🙂 I am pretty sure I can safely adult more than that. lol I’ll get to it. Coffee first. 🙂

Most of my days begin with coffee.

Most of my days begin with coffee. Your routine may vary. 🙂

Dueling elements of my nature keep me pre-occupied this morning. I was over taken by artistic inspiration late yesterday afternoon (after my interview) and the idea lingers in my thoughts, stealing my focus from anything less emotionally engaging. The excitement of feeling so inspired competes with the subtle tension of maintaining professional readiness of another sort, in the background, alert for call backs, interviews, calendared events relevant to job searching…and that inner conflict erupted late last evening as yet another wave of inspiration. Ideas colliding with notions, competing for attention with practical matters… all facing off with the awareness of a sort of alternate reality within reach, made up of favorite cartoons, YouTube content, and hours hanging out with friends – in lieu of all that other practical ‘adult’ stuff.  Right now? This morning? First things first – I’ve got to sort out who I am, where I’m going, what my needs are, how my goals fit in with those, how my opportunities and choices are affected by my values… and what I want to be when I grow up. Right after that? Everything else.

That's a lot of details to sort out in one morning...

That’s a lot of details to sort out in one morning…

It’s not going to be that easy, today, is it? 😉 (Hint: mostly none of it is, in a practical sense, approximately ever that easy.) I’m so fucking glad I no longer put the full weight of solving every damned thing on my shoulders each day! It’s too much to carry, long-term.

It's okay to put some of that down, for now.

It’s okay to put some of that down, for now.

I sip my coffee. Listen to bird song. I commit to being; it’s an excellent starting point for most things. 🙂 I think over conversations and connections lingering in my memory, most from very recent days. I take time to savor the insights and understandings I’ve gained. I consider meaning, context, value – and realize that now, instead of being caught up in all things future (goals, plans, lists of tasks) I am now tangled up in the past. The past is not ‘now’, any more than the future is.

Like dandelion fluff, the past lacks substance, but can be a little distracting. :-)

Like dandelion fluff, the past lacks substance, but can be a little distracting. 🙂

I sip my coffee. Listen to bird song. Smile at the wildflowers blooming beyond the window. Breathe the cool morning. I notice cold toes and fingers. I notice cold coffee. I notice slouching and sit taller, straighter, more comfortably. There is time for now. Failing to take that time generally results in feeling overwhelmed, rushed, less prepared, more aggravated – and definitely less willing to ‘stay the course’ when there is work to be done. 🙂  [Your results may vary.]

Not so very wild - still flowers. :-)

Not so very wild – still flowers. 🙂

This morning I feel a bit like a cat on a leash. Have you ever tried it? Putting a cat – a grown cat – on a leash? One that’s never been leash trained, specifically? Oh, the hilarity! Yep – and that’s me, this morning, a human ‘cat on a leash’ – and that leash is adulthood. lol Hell, I’m sitting here with a mostly empty cup of very cold coffee, still in sleepwear, barefooted, hair unbrushed, knowing damned well I have things to do today! My mind veers away from all of it – even the artistic inspiration – although I don’t feel down, or upset, or in any sort of distress or ill-health, or tired. But… There’s no one here but me to put that damned leash on, and get me to go on with the day. I’ll have to take care of that, myself. (I don’t want to!)


… And listen deeply, even to your own heart.

With a last swallow of cold coffee, I pull myself out of the chronic slouch that routinely plagues my already messed up back, again. I take some deep breaths of cool morning air, and let the past fall away – and the future too. It’s not even 8 am, the day barely begun, and there’s no reason to be so hard on myself while I wake and start the day. Seriously? ‘Now’ is a nice moment, today [any day], worthy of time and attention. Worthy of embracing without rushing. Worthy of presence.  ‘Now’ needn’t compete with that very complete ‘to do’ list at all, its time is not now, as it is. I allow myself the power of my choices, and commit to simply being for some little while – no really, put down that god damned list [and even the thought of it] for a few more minutes! – and enjoy these precious moments of stillness and simple beauty. There’s time to be quite productive and busy a bit later, I promise myself. Hours yet to come.

It's not just okay to take time for 'now' - there is real value in this moment.

It’s not just okay to take time for ‘now’ – there is real value in this moment; overlooking it is a major source of stress.

Today is a good day to take the time. Today is a good day to choose. Today is a good day for being and for becoming – and for recognizing our journey doesn’t always take the path we’ve planned. Today is a good day to acknowledge that I am the cat, the leash, and the person holding the leash – and I am all those things now. 🙂

Sitting here sipping my coffee, watching the dawn sky slowly become morning, and lingering over this lovely moment, now. I hear traffic in the distance – it’s rare that I don’t. I hear birdsong, too, red-wing blackbirds, robins, and doves, mostly, this morning. The cool air of early morning seeps into the apartment from marsh and meadow beyond. I pause to appreciate screens on doors and windows – no mosquitoes in the house.


Summer flowers, and a worthy moment.

This practice, the practice of being present in this moment, and of observing and being without judgement, this practice has become a lifestyle at this point – and it is one of my favorite practices, seeming to stitch together a wholly different experience of life than the one I’ve had of careening through the chaos from crisis to crisis in some breathless reactive panic. It’s so easy it is tempting to call it easy – and thereby overlook how challenging this practice can be…it does need practice. There’s no ultimate mastery, at which point I can dust off my hands, look around the room smugly, and say “See? Mindful. Done.” It’s an ongoing thing – and for good reason, when I think it over; life itself is ongoing. (Well, until it isn’t, but that’s an existential irritant for another day.)

The apartment has cooled down nicely this morning. Today is forecast to be a bit less hot. Yesterday was comfortably more pleasant than the day prior – which was a very nice change in weather, since my traveling partner was over hanging out, and I’ve currently no AC. More than once I’ve found myself thinking back to other places with or without AC, and thinking about relative comfort. It’s not as if I can gain too much perspective.

It’s funny how our monkey brains work; I think about missing my partner later, and I feel the missing of him right now as I do, and quickly find myself awash in emotions from the blue end of the spectrum, although, in fact, nothing whatever has changed – and my partner simply sleeps in the other room. lol It’s something I am more aware of these days – my mind ‘plays tricks on me’, not necessarily out of any malice (I suspect it’s some attempt to be helpful or efficient…), but definitely with the outcome of crafting my experience of moments that don’t exist ‘in real life’. Being present in this moment, mindfully aware, observing and being, without forcing things through some sieve built of assumptions, expectations, and ‘what happened that one time’ is an idealized state of being to be sure – and it requires practice. (Always with the damned verbs!) I don’t find it ‘effortless’ at all. (I’m sure I suck at it more than I succeed with ease – but most of my efforts fall somewhere between those points… not sucking, and often succeeding, with more effort than is easily described since even the effort doesn’t exactly feel ‘difficult’, just that it needs attention. And practice.) I do find it worth every bit of the effort it takes.

Practicing anything is a bit challenging, I find – we don’t seem especially well wired to do any one thing ‘all the time’, and sticking with committed practice isn’t easy – or more of us would be accomplished piano, violin, or horn players, having ‘picked it up’ in school.  Certainly, if practice were ‘easy’, I would now be quite skilled on keyboards, bass guitar, gardening, math, languages, interpersonal communication, basic construction, home repairs, and reading blueprints, schematics, and sheet music… well, I think you see what I’m saying. I’m not sure I’ve ever stuck with practicing any one thing until I achieved ‘full mastery’ (what I understand that to be, myself)…  but, I’ve become someone who practices. I didn’t start here; I had to practice to get here!

Changing my perspective on practice, practices, and practicing has been powerful. I’ll keep heading down this particular path, it suits me. My eagerness to learn has increased as I have become comfortable with practicing. To be comfortable with practice is also to become comfortable with not knowing, with lacking skill, with having to begin again… turns out those experiences have real value, and aren’t particularly painful, generally. I am learning to be kind to myself when I don’t know something – because punishing myself for innocent ignorance undermines my ability to develop and grow with real depth and character, by building an implicit sense that there is something broken about not knowing.

Where will the day take me?

Where will the day take me?

Today is a ‘work day’. There will be plenty to practice – I’ll be out in the world, being human, and talking to people who employ humans, and looking for a good opportunity to become one such human being employed by another. I hear my traveling partner up, making coffee. I smile, and think about all the practices I associate with love and loving. Today is a good day for practicing the practices, wherever the path leads me. 🙂

I didn’t sleep last night. I’m not sure why. It probably doesn’t matter. The night didn’t seem long, and it wasn’t at all stressful, I just wasn’t sleeping most of the night. I don’t recall being aware of, or concerned about, the passage of time… perhaps I slept and merely dreamed that I was awake? I’m groggy this morning, tending to support my perception of poor quality sleep in limited quantity. Spelling mistakes are more common. My head aches. My eyes feel sticky. I’m not at all cross, yet, but hey – the day is young. I laugh out loud and startle myself with the harsh edge to the sound of it. Hmm… a good day to take care of this fragile vessel.

Sunrise. A chance to begin again, every time.

Sunrise. A chance to begin again, every time.

I cool the apartment while the morning temperatures are low. I sip my coffee. I catch up my email, and follow up on job search tasks. It’s all very organized and systematic, which is almost irrelevant most days of late, these are qualities I am relying on this morning to get me through the day. I find myself easily distracted and a little out of sorts over the practical matter of squinting at my monitor. I notice again that I am overdue for new glasses, and my prescription lens’ clearly need to be somewhat different than they are. The sunshine pours in over the windowsill, spilling across my fingers and the backs of my hands like some exotic liquid. My years are more obvious in the unforgivingly revealing summer sunshine. I smile. These are my hands. They have served me well all these years. It’s quite okay that the years show a bit. I’ve worked hard to get here.

My thoughts are fractured and inefficient. The lack of sleep matters more than I want it to. I find myself struggling to remember something (is it a real something, or have I imagined it?) that I had wanted to do today, or wanted to plan today for some other day, or…something. Perhaps I’ve only imagined it? Perhaps I am thinking of something already planned, now, and confused myself thinking there remains some detail to be planned? Perhaps it is something important – isn’t that the fear? That I’ve forgotten something important? Doesn’t change how the forgetting feels… This vague sense of something missing lingers. lol Perhaps a walk in the early morning sunshine will clear my head, and wake me up? I smile when I notice the time; I am ‘right on schedule’ for my morning walk. Funny how our ‘sense of things’ can so easily sync up with things like time of day, day of week, or seasons… It feels very natural to be preparing to walk right now.

I enjoy living life more or less  unscripted these days. It’s nice to know I can fall back on a  handful of good habits to ‘keep me on the path’, when I am tired, or rushed, or feeling disorganized.

Was it an email I wanted to write, or…? Damn it. I’m still stuck on whatever it is I feel I am forgetting. lol Today is a good day to let it go, and be mindful and present in this moment. I think I’ll do that. 🙂

I slept restlessly, somewhat uncomfortably due to nothing more out of the ordinary than sore muscles. I guess I’m happy about it; in this case sore muscles indicate I’m working on my fitness, so… progress. Experiencing directly how little (of some sorts) of exertion it takes to fatigue me, and cause sore muscles a day later, I’m eager to continue with physical therapy. Clearly I could be in much better shape. 🙂

I woke feeling groggy and reluctant to face the day, although I have breakfast with a friend planned, and the high likelihood I’ll see my traveling partner today, too. I’ve nearly finished my coffee, with time enough to take care of what few housekeeping tasks I’d like to handle before I see my partner.  It’s already quite sunny, and I’ve got the windows thrown wide to cool the apartment before the heat of the day sets in; it’s forecast to be quite hot today. No AC. It matters to cool things down early.

Today isn’t fancy. I’ve no elaborate plans. One day among many, and an opportunity to choose between reacting to the world, or taking care of me… I put myself first today, and refrain from reading the news at all. Even Facebook doesn’t tempt me much; I catch myself quickly, and move on. Today is a good day to be here, now, in this moment. I think I’ll do that. 🙂

Isn't this enough?

Isn’t this enough?