Archives for the month of: September, 2017

I remember being in pain yesterday, in the afternoon. I woke in pain this morning. One nice thing about unreasonably hot, wildfire-dry, summer weather – those long hot dry days are just about ideal for minimizing my arthritis pain, no Rx required.

I love autumn. I love crisp cool mornings, colder nights, and warm afternoons. I love the shff-shff of fallen leaves, disturbed as I walk through them. I enjoy the short days, the long nights, the late sunrises, the early sunsets. It’s so exquisitely lovely, all of it, that every year as it returns, I am surprised all over again that with it comes pain. Rather a lot of pain. Everyday pain. Waking up in pain. Yoga to ease pain. Enjoying long walks – that also hurt. It is what it is. I’m glad I am able to walk. To stand. To dress myself. This morning, I find room to be amused that another autumn comes, and again I have forgotten that I am always in this much pain. There will be other mornings, colder mornings, on which I no longer find humor in the moment. I’m not in any rush to reach those mornings. I take a moment to appreciate the morning, shored up by perspective on how much less pain I am in right now than I could be.

I have friends who hurt, too. Family members. Loved ones. Pain is part of the human condition. We feel. We experience sensations. Sometimes, feelings are unpleasant. Sometimes sensations are painful. We easily lose sight of the pain of others, living out our own experience of pain. I know it happens to me. When I hurt, and can’t imagine hurting more than I do, it’s way too easy to forget that there actually is more worse pain than what I am in, myself – and someone else is feeling that. Yikes. Talk about perspective. It’s true for you, too; someone else is in worse pain. Possibly more often. It’s something to remember when we face the world, hurting; we are not alone. We may feel alone with our own pain, but we are not alone in the experience of being in pain, generally.

This morning, I am in pain. I’m not bitching. I’m just noticing it there, reflected back at me when I attempt to ignore it, each movement in my spine resulting in mild nausea, and a chronic almost irresistible desire to flex, twist, move, rock – all of which hurts, but the movement may, over some minutes, ease the pain somewhat. I look at the calendar and frown. Not even October? Shit. I feel inclined to say it seems earlier this year – but I say that, and feel it, every year. lol This year, I commit to caring for myself in a reasonable and rational way (still, and, again). I take a deep breath. I let it go. I get up from my chair and do some more yoga. It helps.

I abandon my writing and take another hot shower. Lingering in the hot water, I catch myself daydreaming about the heated seat in my car and the 45 minute commute to work enjoying it. Oh, Autumn, you are so beautiful and so cruel to me! I laugh about it, because this morning I still can.

I make a mental note to myself to be kind to people; I can’t tell what kind of pain they may be in, or how hard they are having to work at being decent to people, themselves. We’re all so very human. We are interconnected, and our shared experiences color the experiences we don’t share. Being a jerk to someone can so easily become the experience that blows their day – just as a moment of kindness can turn a bad day around completely. I consider the woman I most want to be, and commit to be more her today than I was yesterday. I give a mental shout out to the friends who seem to have really mastered “self” and “have their shit together” in all the ways that matter most to me. I find myself thinking about old-fashioned thank you notes.

The morning moves on. I sip my coffee. I scroll through my playlist absent-mindedly, unsure whether I actually want to hear music this morning. Pain, coloring my thinking, changes my decision-making in subtle ways; something to be mindful of as the day goes on.

It seems like a good time to begin again. πŸ™‚

It’s one of those Mondays after a long weekend that feels like I have “been away a long while”. It’s highly subjective, and an illusion. I often feel this way after a long weekend – or any weekend that I really succeed in “disconnecting” “letting go” or “recharging”. I almost always feel this way after a weekend in the studio. It’s like taking a step back from a life I love to rejoin a life-in-progress about which I’ve long had mixed feelings. lol It’s a feeling that will fade quickly, as I begin process routine Monday workload and start feeling “caught up”. I sip my coffee and spend a couple minutes contemplating the illusory nature of emotion, the made up nature of personal narrative, the mutability of life itself.

So far it’s a good beginning to a Monday. My coffee this morning is excellent, and I have refrained from looking at the news, or Facebook. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee a few minutes more, thinking about friends I saw, friends I didn’t see, friends I observed from a distance over Facebook. I think about the past (the weekend), the future (retirement), and notice that I have strayed rather far from this moment now, and pull myself back to the present with a smile, a sigh, and a sip of coffee.

Did I mention that my coffee this morning is excellent? Is it worth mentioning that if I let my consciousness wander to far from being present in this moment, I stop tasting it? That seems relevant. I consider only my coffee for a moment or two, savoring the smoothness of the steamed almond milk, the richness of the locally roasted Ethiopian beans. I take time to appreciate how quickly I’ve become more proficient with the espresso machine, again. I let my awareness become filled with this morning, right here. The coffee. The sound of traffic. My tinnitus. The trickle of the aquarium. The feel of this space I live within. Mmm…did I mention the coffee? πŸ™‚

What a lovely equinox weekend it was. I feel rested and well-cared-for. The world waits…

…I guess it is time to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

It’s been a satisfying weekend, so far, and it’s Sunday. Back to work tomorrow. A new list today. It’s time to begin again, you see, to return to reliable self-care routines, to catch up on the housekeeping, to wrap up loose ends, to tidy up the studio.

I sip my coffee contentedly. No new work has been completed, but the studio feels “right”, and a great deal of background work has been done (which is to say, backgrounds have been painted, in-fact). I also managed to do a great deal of additional moving in work, because realistically, although I can quickly paint quite a few backgrounds for later use, doing so still results in wet canvases everywhere needing to dry, which results in time on my hands not being spent painting. πŸ™‚ It’s been a lovely relaxed joyful productive weekend that also managed to be wholly restful. I needed that, too.

Today, I look around over the edge of my coffee cup as I move through the rooms of my current residence, feeling settled in, and “at home”, and mildly frustrated each time I recall that I’ve got at least one more move before I can even consider not having to move anymore. I shrug off that bit of discontent (it can wait for some other moment to be fully considered), and take a look around with an eye for starting a new work week. There’s laundry to be done. Vacuuming. Meal prep for work week lunches. I smile with approval at how little things “fell behind” over the weekend. Even today can be relaxed, and simply a day of mindful service to hearth and home, and itself quite emotionally nourishing. I enjoy being the human being responsible for my day-to-day quality of life.

I make my “to do list” with care, and an eye on meeting the needs of the moment, and also my needs over time. My idea of “carpe diem” and “YOLO” include consideration of the future moments of living that are implied by “to live” being a verb that expresses an ongoing condition. Sure, sure, being mortal is a thing, but since I’ve no guaranteed “end date” on this journey, it seems the wiser course to mindfully consider my needs beyond this moment right here; I may need some things from myself (and life) tomorrow, too, or next year… or in 2025, the year I expect to leave the workforce permanently. πŸ™‚ Ideally, embracing life includes that future I am planning for, not just this one singular mortal moment right now. This morning, that future consideration leans heavily on the upcoming week, and some bigger events a bit beyond (holiday season planning, I am looking your way!!). It’s enough. More distant future planning is still fuzzy and daydream-y, enough to consider gently, not quite enough to count on.

My sleep last night was as restless and weird as my sleep Thursday night was uninterrupted and deeply restful. I don’t take that personally. I got up once or twice, child-style, for a drink of water and a quick check around for “monsters”. (Somehow tap water always tastes best in the wee hours, barefooted in the darkness, and “monsters” seem an entirely reasonable thing to check for.) My half-awake mind doesn’t question the need for either, though I am certain that thirstily gulping down two big glasses of water at 2:43 am likely contributed to the urgency of getting up promptly at 6:45 am, this morning. The day began earlier than I’d have planned, but late enough to feel like “sleeping in” in spite of that. πŸ™‚ Win and good.

I’ve got a list. I’ve checked it twice. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

Inspiration is a funny thing. I am occasionally frustrated when Inspiration strikes, and I am “trapped” at work, or in life, in circumstances that undermine the moment from one of great power and motivation to something more like a cognitive itch I can’t scratch. Timing matters. Time matters. Location matters. Available resources with which to work – that matters, too. Any one element being a bit off, or out of reach, and the whole moment degrades, slips away, fades before I can dive into that delicious drenching sea for a quick swim, before inevitably returning to the sometimes tedious shores of a more staid reliably productive wholly limited reality.

Having a studio at home as been awesome, and exploring what that can be like definitely changed my approach to my living arrangements. Making a point to live in spaces in which I can have dedicated creative space has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with location from any of my relationships. That’s been wonderful. Managing my professional life (outside of art) such that I reliably have the resources to keep art supplies well-stocked has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with available resources. Β The only significant struggle that remains is to do with time, and timing.

I’m smiling this morning, and feeling fortunate that I’d already planned a long weekend for the equinox. When inspiration struck me with force, it was easy enough to roll with it, change my plans from coastal camping to a stay-cation in the studio, and happily move on with things. πŸ™‚ I arrived home yesterday and happily flipped an imagined “artist at work” sign in my head, made a coffee – because I’ve got 3+ days to play with, and no requirement to adhere to any particular routine unless I choose to do so, and no concern about late nights. Sometime after my 5th coffee of the day (and a bit past 4 pm) I admitted I’d probably had enough coffee. lol In the meantime, I had stepped into my studio, looked around, and agreed with my inner artist that a different arrangement of space, gear, and furnishings would be helpful…

…Somehow, I spent the evening rather energetically (hello 5 cups of coffee!!) “moving in more”, moving stored paintings around, discovering there were just too damned many stacked that I’d intended to be hanging, which lead to hanging more paintings (everywhere). I moved on to “those art cabinets are sort of in the way right there… which lead to moving furniture around. I got to that skinny box by the wall, and went ahead and finished setting up my workstation by putting the big desk monitor in its obvious place – on my desk. One by one, stacks of paintings, boxes of art supplies that had been “left for later”, art cabinets, supplies, blank canvases, books, gear, drop cloths… everything began to “sort itself out” (with my help, obviously – because no one is doing this shit for me!). By 7 pm, I was pretty much stalled. Finished. Done for the day. Not exactly tired, I remember thinking, but more just needing a bit of a break to consider next steps – with every intention of turning on appropriate lights and doing some “dark work” in glow colors.

Coffee or no coffee; I crashed at 8:30 pm, and slept deeply through the night. I woke briefly around 4 am, took my morning medication, peed, and went straight back to bed, and slept another 3 hours. It isn’t common for me to sleep so well, so deeply, or for so many hours. 11 hours of sleep? Brain-tired from an intense, however short, work week. I get it. It makes sense. I’m glad I didn’t make any attempt to force a routine on myself; I obviously needed the rest. πŸ™‚

This morning feels fresh and new and filled with wonder, color, music… and yeah, more coffee. LOL No idea what “next” looks like, yet. I linger over my coffee and my words; there’s no need to rush. This is a moment which is not enhanced by attempts at efficiency. Totally okay with that. The woman in the mirror is a different creature when she’s painting than when she’s 9-to-5-ing. I roll with the change happily, feeling transformed into some more natural state of being, relishing the freedom to be wholly myself, utterly without limitations or restrictions besides those I place on myself. Feels good. I let my soul stretch just as I would let myself stretch my body after a long time in one position; comfortable or uncomfortable, remaining in one position too long generally results in needing a good stretch, yeah? Same for my artist’s soul, I suppose. I feel my heart and my emotions reaching outside the day-to-day limitations of what is comfortable to display in public. Freedom to feel more, to explore myself more, to fully be. My home, my rules, my way. I look around my studio with a smile, and remind the world beyond “you don’t tell me“.

Maybe I write more this weekend. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I get all the sleep I need. Maybe I’m up all night painting. Maybe I paint a ton of tiny paintings. Maybe I work on just one canvas. Maybe I choose. Maybe I let Inspiration lead me gently. Maybe the work unfolds precisely as I envision it. Maybe everything I do ends up entirely different than I expected. Maybe all the housekeeping also gets done. Maybe the weekend ends with dishes in the sink.

That’s a lot of maybes. I’m sure about the coffee. LOL The rest? I’ll let you know on the other side of this vast Sea of Inspiration. It’s time to go for a swim. πŸ™‚

So, training on a new tool ended yesterday, in the sense that the trainer has left the building to return to her regular day-to-day experience elsewhere. My work week ends in a handful of hours after one meeting. It would be so easy to give myself a moment of self-congratulatory joy, celebrate an achievement, and be done with that… but… that isn’t how new knowledge (or new practices) actually work. The learning is a beginning, only. Then come the verbs. The practice. The repetition. The iterations of improvement over time. The learning curve. Skill building. Improvements. Refinements. Enhancements. Efficiency building. It’s even a cycle. Each new thing learned, practiced, and “mastered” leads to yet another new thing learned, which must be practiced, and mastered, which leads… yeah. So.

Weekends are also a thing. I’ve got a lovely long one ahead of me. I’d planned to spend the Autumnal Equinox on the coast, but this training week was important (remains important, it is simply now in the past), enough to cut a couple hours out of my planned time, resulting in a change in plan. Truly, though, what canceled my trip to the coast was a splash of inspiration urging me into the studio, which… yeah. That comes first whenever I can make it so. πŸ˜€

Beginnings and endings, and an unfinished self-portrait waiting to be completed.

I sip my coffee content with this moment. Eager to return home to my weekend. Eager to linger at leisure at the edge of the rainy day deck garden with a coffee too late in the day, unconcerned because the day of leisure will be followed by another. I am even eager to throw routine out the window, to stay up late in defiance of healthy sleep practices, to sleep in on a “work day” (helloooo, Friday morning, I’m looking your way!), to play the stereo loud, to be – without looking at the clock. Just anticipating the delicious leisure moments ahead, I feel myself relax. I need this. πŸ™‚

I’m pretty good at routines. I’m less skillful about breaking them. It’s not generally wise, but sometimes I do learn best from my challenges when I explore them, gently. Am I ready for some chaos? I’d better be…

…Anyway… I can always begin again. πŸ˜‰