Archives for category: forgiveness

It’s a new year, eh? New cup of coffee here on my desk, too. New morning, new day – a Saturday. The season has turned, and Winter is truly upon us. Here that mostly means cold, wet, and rainy, with occasional flooding, and the sounds of trees cracking when the wind blows on a freezing day. Other places, other weather.

Out on a nearby trail, taking note of the recent winter storm damage; fallen trees open up new views of the sky.

It’s been a few days since I sat down to put words to a blank page. The holidays passed, as holidays do, and this is a time when best intentions set boldly of a New Year’s Eve begin to fall to the mundane, the routine, and the unexceptional – change is quite a bit of work. Did you commit yourself to some specific change or improvement in life for this new year? Are you already frustrated? I try to avoid “resolutions” – it just hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally. Still, this year I do want to “do more, better” – and be more that person I most want to be. It wants a new beginning, though, because I am deeply flawed, fundamentally very human, and entirely capable of bad decision-making, errors, and falling short of expectations and commitments. I’ve disappointed myself a number of times this year, once in a serious, significant, and painful way. So, as is so common, I set myself to putting things right as the new year approached, and tried to sort out what really crap-tacular shit is holding me back, and what baggage I can maybe put down , and what things I can do better, generally. I’m back in therapy, working on difficult specifics.

What sorts of changes am I looking for, this year, myself? It’s an assortment. Last year I got in 1 mile per day (average) over the second half of the year (started in July, finished on 12/31/21). This year I’m going for 2 miles per day, all year. 730 miles. On foot. I mean… it’s not “all that”. People do through hikes that are far longer, and conquer those in shorter time. 🙂 For me, working from home full time, during a pandemic, 2 miles a day on foot still manages to feel like a (healthy) stretch, particularly if I am making a legitimate attempt to do some portion of that every single day. So. I’m doing it. I’ve at least started. I sip my coffee and wonder if I’ll give up, or feel inclined to “cheat”. (There is no “cheating” on such things; either I succeed or I fail. Miles on foot are miles on foot. Doesn’t mean there won’t be something within me inclined to wonder if I could “find an easier way”. I’m very human.) Various other small things; get more done with less bitching (housekeeping shit, I mostly mean), really embracing the direct personal value to my quality of life that those efforts have, and maybe stop fucking resenting the necessity. That gets super tedious for me, even from within. “Do more, bitch less” seems a good place to begin. So far this year, I’ve been hitting the mark there pretty well, just making a bit more effort, with a bit less resistance to the effort required. It does seem to make things actually easier.

I’ve got bigger changes in mind, too. This partnership means the world to me. My Traveling Partner is special in my heart. Surely I could be a better partner? Better friend? Better human being to make a life with? I mean… there may be some things about me that may not improve much, however I fuss and practice, but that can’t be what stops me from growing and improving in all the ways I can improve, right? PTSD and brain trauma are for sure ass-kickers, as life challenges go, but I’m not without potential, and I’m pretty wonderful in so many other ways – there’s no legitimate reason to allow my issues to define me, or hold me back from making more progress, and walking my path with future successes in mind.

I wrote a bunch more words, deleted those when I noticed that my mind was wandering, and my words had become… unfocused? Purposeless? Too… something. My Traveling Partner stops by to invite me to share an experience with him later – doesn’t matter what sort, really, it’s the invitation to enjoy each other that matters most. Sounds like fun. I enjoy his company, and sharing time and activities. I smile after he walks away; we’re both pretty grumpy first thing in the morning, and don’t always want to “deal with people” – including each other. It’s a wonderful morning when we’re already exchanging smiles by 8:00 am on a Saturday, and making suggestions for shared experiences to enjoy.

Other than one errand I plan to run this morning, I’m hoping to spend most of the day here in the studio (painting, instead of writing). It’s a good day for it, I think, rainy, cold, dreary… the bright lights in the studio are probably good for my emotional wellness in winter months. 🙂 I’ll make cocoa… and begin again.

I “slept in” – for some values of that expression – and woke to a rainy rather mild winter morning. I made a point to go to the store one last time, yesterday, hoping to enjoy the entire holiday weekend at home without venturing into retail spaces at all. I made this excellent coffee which I continue to sip on, now. There is holiday music playing in the background, with a warm, cozy holiday café scene as a backdrop on my monitor. No children live in our home – I’ve still got NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” up, where I can see that famous fat man in red flying around the globe in a sleigh pulled by reindeer (somehow, it still “makes sense” to me that this is even a thing! lol). Giftmas at home.

So merry

…Giftmas. At home. So many moments lead to this one, now, and I feel content, merry, and wrapped in love. My Traveling Partner woke around the time I did. It’s a lovely morning. So far, every detail of the holiday is just delightful, and seems lavish and rich in keeping with childhood expectations of the season, without actually being costly, or built on unaffordable excess. It’s just… pleasant. We took a modest approach to the holidays this year to focus more on longer-term goals. You know that pandemic thing? Yeah, that’s still going on, too – so the thing we’d likely both like most to do more of, which would be socializing in various settings, maybe having a holiday dinner or a party, these are all things that are pretty much not on the menu for us. We’re still masking any time we go out (or answer the door), and practicing fairly strict social distancing – we’re definitely not ready to invite a mob of friends over to party. Not yet. Hell, we haven’t even had a housewarming party yet, or had my partner’s brother over (who lives rather close, a couple towns up the road).

…As content as I am to spend time alone, or with only my partner for company, I am also “feeling the pandemic” as it wears on, month after month. Funny how much life we’ve lived in spite of that, and how much we’ve gotten done. lol I miss friends, though. I take a minute imagining how much harder it may be on my partner, who is much more social. He’s pretty much stuck with “just me” for company day-to-day. I doubt that he finds that boring – but it probably gets super annoying, sometimes. Maybe lonely, too.

Holidays aren’t always so easy as this one. I feel fortunate, and grateful. I think about other Giftmases, some long past, some even quite horrible, others so magical as to become defining moments in how I celebrate the season, even to this day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really “get” how much actual work my parents both put into making Christmases magical for us. I mean it was pretty hardcore stuff that I only learned later; late nights into the wee hours assembling various “some assembly required” items – like my first bicycle, one year. Mornings no doubt came far too early for them, with eager kids waking nearer to 5 a.m. than to sunrise. When we were little, even the tree itself was part of the magic; it sat in a bucket of water for a handful of days, on the porch, and I truly believed then that it was part of Santa’s work to put up the tree, and decorate it – because for a couple years (at least) that’s how it all went down; no tree when we went to bed, and a world transformed on Christmas morning. Wow. The wonder still saturates my memories. That is some difficult shit to live up to! LOL It’s no wonder my Mom’s first thought on Christmas morning was coffee.

One year, Santa deviated from his usual routine. I must have been around… 9? (Sisters at 6 and at 3 years then.) I woke early on Christmas morning – super early – and there was… something heavy on my legs. I quietly turned on my light and discovered my Christmas stocking was there, at the foot of my bed! OMG OMG! Santa had come!! I went to my parent’s bedroom and tried to wake my Dad and tell him… he woke only enough, and only long enough, to tell me to “go back to bed for a little while” and that I could open my stocking quietly, and enjoy that. “Santa must have known your Mom and I want to sleep in a bit.” (“Sleep in” my ass; they’d probably just barely dropped off to sleep at that point! LOL) So, I did go back to my bed, and crawled back into the warm blankets. I started joyfully exploring the sweets and toys in my stocking as quietly as I could; it was stuffed almost to bursting. My sister woke minutes later, and came into my room (seeing the light under the door, probably) and excitedly told me about their stockings, on their beds, too. I passed on the encouragement to enjoy those, in bed. I think we were all still happily playing, nibbling chocolates, and enjoying our quiet holiday when my parents woke later (still properly early, but closer to something like 7 a.m.). It was splendid! It happened that way every year after. For me, it made stockings singularly important to the holiday in a whole new way.

Thanks for the magic, Mom & Dad. I haven’t forgotten.

Santa’s flying over Pakistan, apparently. This cup of coffee is almost gone. The rain continues to fall. Merry Giftmas. Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays, however you choose to celebrate.

I slept deeply, living an alternate reality, rich, colorful, surreal, and woke to recollections of some other life. Some other self. I remember lights, and music, and abundance, holiday festivities. Giftmas dreams. I woke, also, to a visceral recollection of sitting forlorn and draggled at a rainy city bus stop during the holiday season, surrounded by holiday lights and late afternoon winter darkness – thinking thoughts, then, that had a striking resemblance to the dream I woke from, this morning, but from the perspective of yearning, rather than celebration. How very strange. Later, with this cup of coffee, I’m struck by the unlikely coincidence of seeing a thumbnail for a video (the one I linked just now, earlier in this paragraph) that very much looked like the scene I was remembering! Stranger, still, it looks very like the city I once lived in, too. Odd morning.

…”It’s a journey.” Life, by way of metaphor.

Dreams are only dreams. Progress is made through actions. There are verbs involved. Surely I could sit at a bus stop in the rain, crying over what is not, for endless hours – but doing so changes nothing. I’m just saying; misery may love company, but it also tends to be lazy as fuck. 😉 Choose a verb, choose your adventure, take a step on your path… there is no “too late” if you’ve another breath to take.

Wins and losses in life don’t have to become a punishing point system that nags or mocks you for your perceived failures. Let that bullshit go, if you can. Dream your dreams, choose your verbs, find your own way – one step, one beginning at a time. 🙂 Try to be kind to yourself along the way – there will always be plenty of other people around you ready to be discouraging assholes, or just plain mean or discourteous. 🙂 No reason to add to all of that.

‘Tis the season

I think about the day ahead. The year drawing to a close. Thanksgiving already over. The Winter Solstice, Giftmas, and New Year’s ahead. I sip my coffee and enjoy the sound of rain (on this video, that I’m not sitting in, wet, at a lonely bus stop, broke, and alone). I think about the things that went quite well this year, in spite of the pandemic. I think about things that continue to challenge me, as a human, seeking to be the woman I most want to be. I think about love, and my Traveling Partner, and the life we build together every day. I feel fortunate. I feel thankful. I take a breath, filling my lungs with air clean enough to breathe. I sip coffee made with clean filtered water, and locally roasted, sustainably-sourced (they say) coffee beans. Choices that became advantages. Advantages that represent privilege – and good fortune. I did not build my life alone with my own two hands “from the ground up”, myself. To say that I have feeds into the cultural lie that is the “bootstrap fallacy“. This has always been a shared journey, and I am wholly interdependent on lives around me, and the actions and choices of others. That’s just real. Yeah, the verbs are spread out; I can choose my own. None of us get where we are without help, good fortune, useful circumstances, and a sprinkling of coincidence, however “self-made” we’re inclined to make ourselves out to be.

The day ahead is not really a holiday. Just a day off. I took it easy all weekend after getting my seasonal flu shot and my Covid booster. Choices. Today I feel pretty good. A good day for housekeeping, tidying up before the next holiday. Maybe playing some video games, or getting a hike in, if the rain stops. Choices aplenty. Choices, followed by verbs; doesn’t matter what I may “decide” to do, if I don’t act on that decision. Seems obvious enough.

I made a lovely plum pudding for Giftmas; I remind myself to baste it with spirits, again today. Odd tangent – my Granny once invited me to make a Christmas Pudding with her from an old recipe she’d found in her grandmother’s handwriting, tucked into an old cookbook. I was visiting, (my last visit with her as it turned out) over a holiday season. I was moody and she was seeking to lift my spirits and help me regain perspective. I declined, rather flippantly saying something about making a plum pudding seeming the sort of thing I’d only want to do “once I had a proper home of my own”, somehow. She was pleasant about that rejection; she didn’t want to put in all the effort if I wasn’t also into it, and we quickly found other delightful ways to enjoy our time together. This year I remembered. So… this year I made that plum pudding (linked recipe is very traditional, also very large, and was not the recipe I used, myself, just looks like a good one). Rather hilariously, my Traveling Partner has zero interest – it just isn’t his sort of dessert. So, this one is for me. A memory, and a celebration. I do wish I actually had that original recipe in my great-great-grandmother’s handwriting, though… what a treasure that would be. 🙂

My coffee is finished. My cell phone has finished re-charging. The rain outside continues to fall. Seems a good time to begin again. 🙂

The frown finally lifted. My jaw finally unclenched. My sheer-force-of-will pleasantness in meetings eventually resolved to simply being pleasant. I let go of being angry, in favor of feeling angry, which eventually let me look beyond my angry feelings to my hurt feelings, and then eventually to just letting shit go. Now? I guess I’m “quietly over it”, and it’s enough. Ideally, small things stay small. It’s not always easy to see that through from intention to outcome. It takes practice.

Neither societies nor relationships are (ever) “perfect”, not really; both are made up of human beings who are themselves entirely “human” in all the error-prone meanings of that word, and compounded by the very (very) subjective nature of our individual experiences. Hell, it’s not even a given that we’re all “doing our best” – or that any one of us is capable of a personal best of sufficient real-world value in any objective way. It’s an inefficient system, at best.

Work keeps me occupied. I pause for a break and reconnect with my Traveling Partner. The gray skies beyond my window seem to reflect back our own individual moodiness, today. Suitable backdrop. I think we’re past it, though, with “clearer skies”, though not exactly “sunny”. Metaphorically, I’m hoping for sunny skies (and sunny days) ahead. Funny thing though; the metaphor of climate and weather with regard to emotions and relationships breaks down a bit if pushed too far – we don’t control the actual weather, but do have substantial control over our emotional “weather”. Oh, for sure, not 100% of the control we might like to have, sometimes, and sometimes what we most want to control of the emotional weather isn’t ours to decide at all. Communication takes effort. Listening is work. Kindness requires practice – even for people in love with each other. “Being angry” is easier than taking the time and care to really process feelings of anger with real consideration, self-compassion, and without adding drama to someone else’s experience. It’s hard. It’s worth practicing, and improving over time. It’s worth failing at it and learning from that, and continuing to practice. Incremental change over time is slow – and it’s hard as hell to make the same room for someone else to fail and grow, as it is to do that for myself.

It’s a pleasant afternoon. My partner brings me a small serving of gelato. I take a break to enjoy that, and review what I’ve gotten done today, and what I’ve got coming up tomorrow. There’s so much to get done before the year ends – and it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I’m having a moment. It lives here, in this piece of music.

I listen. I put everything else on hold for a moment or two, just to sit with the feelings and recollections of times past, and lost loved ones.

I listen again. I ignore the tears, but hear the words. Each moment we have is so… finite. We are mortal creatures. I sit quietly listening to the music, to the words, thinking about the world. What else is there to say…

…Hug someone you love. Say something nice to someone. Reach out to an old friend… What could possibly matter more than our relationships?

…There’s only so much time.