Archives for the month of: August, 2017

I woke with a smile this morning. My dreams were filled with love and images of some vision of the future, and as I recall there was a kitten involved, somewhere, or perhaps an avocado tree – I’m not sure. It was, after all, the content of dreams. ๐Ÿ™‚

The morning feels good. The recollection of a long pleasant phone call with my Traveling Partner lingers, and mingles with the content of my dreams, and the smile on my face feels quite reliably part of my experience. I’m not in much pain, which is another excellent quality of the start of this particular day, and I pause to wonder if it has to do with the acupuncture I’d tried for the very first time this week? It was a strange experience, perhaps a tale for another time, and I am turning it over in my mind whether to go back for more… I dislike pain, and it may have helpled. I prefer “evidence-based medicine” – but have no requirement that the evidence be guided by, limited by, or informed by, “western medicine”. Medicine is medicine. Practices are practical inasmuch as what matters most is “does it work”? Even placebo effect can bring an individual real relief from real suffering… so… I don’t know. I suppose the time-money-pain variables and some committed study will eventually make my decision easier than it is at the moment. lol

I am beginning to feel quite settled in to the new place. I feel fairly at home here. I am pretty continuously aware that it is not actually mine. It makes me ache sometimes; it’s very much what I’d like in most respects. I could so easily make it my own. I smile understandingly at the thought. At 54, I should be planning my retirement, and I guess I sort of am, though I do not feel particularly well-prepared for it. Retirement is something we would do well to be planning as soon as we begin our professional lives, in early adulthood, but I suspect most of us are far too busy figuring out how to get enough laundry quarters together, pay off student loans, figure out how to make rent and utilities payments every month… Retirement is so far from our experience we foolishly believe we can put it off. There are a lot of folks, like me, who end up counting on their Social Security income as the bulk of their retirement planning. Scary. Still… I don’t want to work forever – hell, if I were financially prepared, I’d retire today. lol

One possible future is spent at ease in a garden…

I don’t know what the future looks like. No one does, really. We make all that shit up. Our “vision of the future” is hand-crafted narrative from start to finish, sometimes supported by fantastical unchecked assumptions and expectations of others that aren’t at all realistic. I find it hard to let go of the beautiful daydream of a future in which I’ve retired to write, and paint, and garden, happily sipping my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner, making conversation, making love… never mind that we’re both super cross before our coffee, and that I really like writing at that early morning hour while I sip mine (neither of which is conducive to conversation)… the fantasy future remains what it is. Where does it come from? Why does it linger? Is it truly what I want? Is what I want likely to fill my days with joy, or is that also just one more untested assumption?

One possible future is spent hiking remote trails…

I smile and let go of that daydream future long enough to contemplate the weekend immediately ahead; I will be The Traveler on this adventure. I will make my way to my partner’s home, and enjoy the weekend with him. Fuck, I love this guy! There is something ruinously amazing about being romantically sprung over my best friend. I’m eager to see him. Eager to chatter away about all the things he’s missed, to hear about all the things I’ve missed, to share and connect and get “synced up” again. To feel that natural rhythm of loving each other. To live and work and play together. To discuss. To create. To share. I could happily spend every waking moment in this human being’s company, and dream away every minute of every night in his arms… if I were a different person. LOL That’s the weird thing about daydreams of the future – just as often as I may overlook realities of other people, or realities of circumstances, when I dream of the future, I often also overlook very real qualities about the woman in the mirror, who she is, what she wants, what she needs – and how she actually experiences life and behaves day to day! Damned inconvenient. lol He’s right; I do thrive living alone. I’m right, too; I miss living with him, terribly. There is no particularly obvious or easy way to reconcile those observations. Silly human primates. I wonder what the future holds? I’m content with wondering.

One possible future includes leisurely travel with my Traveling Partner, seeing the world…

I sip my coffee and entertain myself imagining “alternate futures” with equal detail to what I might infuse in my favorite future fantasies. I keep my focus on the woman in the mirror – on being the woman I most want to be – and let the scene around me change. Am I living in poverty? It is one possible reality. I let myself imagine finding contentment alongside privation; I have been poor. I know what that feels like. I understand some of the constraints on my comfort and wellness I would likely face. It’s not my favorite daydream of the future. Am I living with a partner? Am I alone? Do I have a quiet little place of my own? Am I sharing a room in an adult care-providing establishment of some kind? Am I immobilized by unwellness of some kind? Am I stronger, fitter, funnier, angrier, thinner, fatter, happier, sadder, solitary, or the powerful matriarch of a vast social empire? (That last seems wildly unlikely, but somehow it made the list nonetheless. lol I recognize that as a common enough tendency of fantasy; go for the extreme if it promotes a chosen narrative.)

How many shards of daydreams of the future become choices in the moment, and eventually… memories? “I’m in the same place you guys are.” Seriously, aren’t we all? I mean – we’re human. It’s a very human experience. What will you practice? Who will you become?

What does the future look like?

Another morning suitable for beginning again. ๐Ÿ™‚

The commute yesterday was ugly. I was calm. People drove badly. I drove calmly. The trip home was slow, traffic density was high, and it was a hot, muggy day. I arrived home… still calm. New. Nice. It was almost a pleasant drive in spite of the shitty traffic and terrible driving behavior of some of the other drivers. This was not a coincidence, or serendipity; I built those moments myself, with mindful awareness, non-judgmental compassion, and frequent reminders that we each see ourselves at the hero of our internal narrative, generally, and are each having our own experience. That jackass ahead of me, weaving back and forth over the yellow line? Human. Like me. Probably trying to see ahead – past the large truck ahead of him. Perspective. (I was still super glad that he finally turned off that road, and it was most definitely a bit annoying to see him stray over that yellow line again and again, but my annoyance was my own to deal with, and literally nothing to do with him.) The entire drive passed in this fashion.

I got home. I spent the evening relaxing, doing a couple things around the house – but mostly relaxing. I may have needed that more than I understood; I also went to bed a tad early, and without reading, or meditating, or any sort of dilly-dallying, was fast asleep so quickly I didn’t have time to consider the day. I woke to the alarm, rested, and feeling mildly distracted, as if torn from a pleasant dream. It’s been a lovely morning. I’ve taken good care of this fragile vessel, and the day starts well. I think I’ve finally come to a comfortable decision about the change in my transportation resources (having a car) and what kind of commuting options I have (both the driving sort, and the transit sort), and I’m finally ready to update my budget and my planning with the necessary details.

This morning, adulting feels rather comfortable and natural. It’s a nice change. I smile and sip my coffee and enjoy the moment of acknowledgement, and the feeling of ease. My smile deepens as I allow the awareness that, yes, “this too will pass” – even the pleasant bits are really fairly temporary. Always were. It’s totally okay. They come and go, and holding on ferociously can’t prolong them, it only makes the pain of their impermanence linger. So. This morning I feel light. I enjoy this carefully hand-crafted moment, as I did the moments in commuter traffic, or standing at the sink washing the dinner dishes, or standing in the shower feeling the water flow over my skin, or looking through my closet for something to wear and feeling content that anything I choose – I am still this person that I am, and I am loved. It’s nice. I highly recommend enjoying moments – and making the choices that result in more pleasant ones than unpleasant ones. There may be some verbs involved. Your results will likely vary (I know mine do). No doubt, you will have your own experience.

I look at the time. I’m eager to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

An utterly routine and fairly effortless workday faded away and became a challenging commute – challenging, frustrating, and provoking moments of temper, until I realized I could use it as a way of practicing some good practices, like… responding versus reacting, and letting go of attachment to an outcome, and just… breathing. Commuter traffic as an opportunity to practice mindfulness…? Sure, why not? I was in the damned traffic, it was a suitably difficult experience, and honestly – I recognized I could handle it differently than I was handling it in that moment that caught me snarling at the driver ahead of me for being an asshole – doing what I’d just done myself a few blocks before. Not cool. Practice needed. lol

I got home full of intentions and planned to take on a full measure of self-care and housekeeping; I’d planned it that way, and I had the time to do it. Funny thing about plans, intentions, and time… they don’t naturally combine to result in achievement, without the addition of will and some verbs. Action is required. Movement. Process. Task completion. Again and again I sat down to chill. Again and again I got myself back up to do something that I wanted to see through to completion, either because it seemed needful or because it would enhance the quality of my experience of the moment. I definitely also wanted to just chill. lol The result was a strange mix of planned tasks being done, and an assortment of other more engaging (in the moment) things getting done instead of some of what I had planned. It seemed just fine last night. This morning I am irked by the things I didn’t get done, that’d I specifically wanted to do – and didn’t. (Like emptying the little trash cans that are tucked here and there all over the house… planned to do that, didn’t do that, irked about the one next to my desk right now not being emptied last night. lol)

I found time to enjoy the garden. Time well spent.

It remains true that getting anything at all done requires some verbs. I have to do the verbs. Put my plans in action. Follow through on my choices with activity that brings my plan to life as an outcome. It always sounds so effortless, in spite of the fact that I am specifically talking about the effort it does require. lol It’s that real-life effort that sometimes stalls me.

This morning, I write instead of emptying that fucking little trash can (and the others like it), but it is Tuesday – the last day to take the trash out before pick up on Wednesday morning. I smile and finish my coffee. There’s time to begin again. There are verbs involved. Sometimes adulting skillfully is every bit as much about just doing as it is practicing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The weekend was busy. Like, busy to the point of not being at all restful and lacking some of the usual qualities of a weekend. It was busy, fun, exciting, and generally time well-spent. The weather was hot and sunny – summery. The performances I saw were worth seeing. I had great conversations with people I’d only just met. I got my eyes seen to on Saturday, and will pick up new glasses sometime next week. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time (years). I enjoyed an exceptional brunch. I visited the Farmer’s Market, and also the Portland Saturday Market. It was a fun weekend out in the world.

I also took time for quiet moments.

I woke to the alarm this morning. My bones ache and my feet are sore from a weekend of dancing in the sunshine. I’m not quite sunburned; I used plenty of sunscreen. I’m “still thirsty” from the days spent in the summer sun, and drinking water along with my morning coffee. I find myself trying to cram a weekend worth of “recovery” into the brief Monday morning hours before a new work week begins – unsuccessfully. It doesn’t work that way. lol

The self-care practices of the week ahead have become quite important; next weekend I will head down south to see my Traveling Partner, and I am eager to enjoy his company for a couple days, but there’s little about it that I expect to be “restful”. I expect to be joining him somewhere out in the trees for a bit of camping, but beyond that, I have no idea what the weekend holds. Love. I know there will be Love, and that’s enough. ๐Ÿ˜€

I read an article about mindfulness this weekend. I was prepared to argue with it, because of the rather confrontational headline, but as I read it, I found myself generally in agreement. It wasn’t attacking mindfulness practices, themselves. The article is critical of the commercialization of, and lack of understanding of the purpose of, mindfulness. I found the article insightful. I read it twice more. It’s not the sort of thing to change my thinking about my own practices, nor to discourage me from them, but it definitely supports (for me) a better understanding of “why it doesn’t work” for some people in the way that it does work for me. I’m specifically not using mindfulness to try to be more efficient at work, for example, or to eliminate stress from my own experience while I continue to deliver a stressful experience to others, or for financial gain. I use mindfulness to improve my emotional resilience so that I can continue to improve my emotional wellness, without turning away from the hard bits of work ahead, while also being a kinder and more compassionate human being out in the world. I use it to improve my perspective on my experience. It seems very effective for those purposes.

Mindfulness is also something that requires real practice. Daily. Not just demonstrations of moments of mindfulness (looking your way “mindfully eating a raisin” lol), I mean actual real-world practicing of practices that, ideally, result in being a better person than I was yesterday, and these are practices that require repetition (otherwise, they’d be “tasks”). We become what we practice. Sure, mindful awareness – totally worth practicing – and also “deep listening” (listening to others mindfully and fully aware and in the moment), and basic consideration. Think about that; simple considerate behavior towards others is a practice of mindfulness. We could hardly be truly considerate without being present, and being aware of that other person, and what they may need, themselves.

I start the week awake. Aware there is more to practice, and a journey ahead that is unscripted and unfolds moment by moment through my choices. (Yours, too.) I smile and sip my coffee. Mindfulness. Perspective. Sufficiency. Building blocks that led me here. Consideration matters too; I become what I practice. I am writing my own script. I am my own cartographer. Incremental changes over time built on the choices I make now. Fancy.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

My coffee has gone cold. I finish it off and check the time. There is time for several little chores to be handled before I leave for work. The forecast suggests a hot day, and I decide driving to the office will be the better self-care choice, when I consider getting home in the heat. Each choice matters. ๐Ÿ™‚ I begin again. You can too.

Will you?

It’s funny the way we so easily (and so often) attempt to divide some facet or another of our experience into two neat, tidy, categories, some simple dichotomy. How often does life actually work that way? No, seriously, think that over – is the political spectrum really a simple division between left and right? (C’mon now, you know that’s not even a thing.) Is each life choice really an either/or? (That seems wildly unlikely.) Is the option generally “everything” or “nothing at all”? (I can’t actually find one moment in my life when that was a literal truth.)

Why do we do that?

I don’t have any answers on that one, I’m just calling out what seems rather obvious to me in this moment right here; it isn’t true. It’s not real. A false dichotomy is… most dichotomies, actually. It’s not even easier to choose between just two options – it’s just easier to think about. Easier to piss and moan about the outcome, too. Easier to build a narrative that suggests we are forced to one or pushed to the other, “without any choice” – even though all of it is about choices.

It’s just something I noticed and started thinking over.

The weekend is just hours away. I have plans. I have choices. I have a full calendar. I have a routine… that doesn’t fit. lol It’s not an either/or situation. I am not faced with the simple choice of doing this, versus doing that; there are many more details. Hell, it’s not even “a spectrum” (that tends to imply a linear direction or sequence that must be followed in one clear way – or the opposite clear way – how often does life actually work that way?). I am faced with a busy weekend and I am choosing… to choose. In the moment, on the fly, perhaps doing things quite differently than usual.

My most spontaneous friends (and my darling Traveling Partner) probably recognize this (to me) very strange (not to them) bit of circumstance as “living”. lol I face it as defiance to routines that tend to stabilize and comfort me, and there is some risk involved there…but… I know there is value in a bit of disorder now and then, and there are both lessons to be learned, and life to live, and that sometimes routine is not helpful. So. This weekend? Planned but unscripted. Tickets purchased. Reservations made. Appointments booked. Brunch agreed upon with friends. Adventure ahead! Fair warning to you, dear Readers, I may not write… because… choices. lol I may write at very different times, or even not at all. I don’t even know.

How does this go? I know people do this spontaneous thing all the damned time (less common for me)… and, hell, how far out of my comfort zone will I really be? I do have plans, tickets, reservations, appointments… all those things provide some structure to the weekend ahead. lol Hardly a fair test, my most adventurous free-living spontaneous unplanned and unplannableย feral friends might observe. I know, too, that they are right; I’ve still got that calendar locked down tight, time well-managed… but… far less so for me than I typically do, and it feels a little unsettling to embrace the uncertainty this way – but uncertainty is a big part of life, and the choices that fall between and all around all of my favorite false dichotomies are so easily lost or forgotten or overlooked because my time is so structured, generally, in favor of a great deal of certainty.

This weekend? I’m uncertain. LOL I’m even okay with that.

Last night I finally got some real rest after several days of existing on what amounted to naps during the night, and long hours of quiet solitude that ideally would have been spent sleeping. Fuck I needed the sleep. lol I don’t recall quite when I crashed (it was very early), and I woke once, maybe twice, long enough to groggily flip on a light, realize it was night, and go back to sleep. I woke with the alarm. The emotional disarray that (for me) is definitely part of the sleep deprivation experience is now behind me, and I am finding that calm centered place so much more easily once again. I’m glad.

I have no clear idea of the path ahead, and as I embrace the weekend of uncertainty, I remember that really… I never actually do. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a journey without a map. The journey itself is the destination. It’s a journey paved with choices and changes. It’s time to walk on…

It’s time to begin again.