Archives for category: gardening

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

I like a smooth, well-mapped, route when I travel from place to pace, it’s true. I don’t at all mind “a road less traveled” – I just prefer to use a map. lol The enormous emotional relief, for me, in beginning down the path of mindfulness, of improved self-awareness, of improved emotional self-sufficiency, has been largely due to the increased sensation that this journey can make some sense, can seem to follow some sort of map. Sort of. 🙂 It’s a feeling of “safe travels” on life’s journey, for me.

…I’m less than ideally well-suited to unexpected drama, profound losses of perspective or resilience, or that emotional teeter-totter that gets slyly labeled “reactivity”. I falter. I panic. I want to run. Doesn’t matter if it’s my mess, or someone else’s. I really just don’t want to be part of it, and I begin to do a lot of emotional dog-paddling in life’s choppy waters, just trying to stay ahead of things, or smooth things over. I’d often rather just yield to whatever the chaos brings with it, accept and reject it, and fucking walk on. So often, it’s either my own mess to clean up and manage, or it belongs to someone dear to me, who has… for fuck’s sake… reached out to me (of all people) for help and support.

It was late last night before I’d self-soothed and medicated sufficiently to stop by brain spinning out of control on details that didn’t really belong directly to me, but touched my experience enough to be aggravating. I slept fitfully, once I was able to sleep at all, and my nightmares were not all that helpful toward sorting shit out. I was fairly grateful for the loud crashing noise on the roof over my bed, which woke me abruptly at 1:49 am. Heavy winds all day and into the night, really making a loud rushing and roaring noise, had been tossing the treetops back and forth for hours. Seconds after 1:48 am, I guess, a largish tree beyond the back fence couldn’t take it any longer and snapped just a couple feet up from the base. It hit the house and broke again, the top sliding down the roof into the neighbor’s yard, the mid-section crashing into the fence, and destroying a section of that, breaking again, and that piece falling sort of into my yard.

Well…shit. That’s not good…

Minutes later, we were all standing out there in the wind and rain, faces wearing looks of astonishment and relief. It could have been worse. In the darkness, the wind carried off any real sense of fear or anxiety, leaving behind only words of surprise, and cautious optimism. It would be hours before day light gave us a better look. Still, it was easy to tell it could have been much worse.

I went back to bed with that reminder in my mind; it could have been worse. So often in life this is true. lol

I woke to a lovely note from my Traveling Partner. I woke to no drama. I woke to peace and contentment. I woke to a large tree broken in pieces spread across the back yards, and a displaced squirrel looking up at me with a recognizable “wtf??” look. I smiled. I get it. I put out peanuts for the squirrels and made a cup of coffee for myself – and began again. 🙂

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. 🙂 No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. 🙂

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

The weekend was relaxed and I spent it mostly in a state of general contentment, hoping to get over the latest ick going around, before the few symptoms I was beginning to experience could fully develop. The focus on self-care may have been worthwhile; I’m feeling okay this morning. 🙂 Definitely well-rested.

One last autumn rose in my garden

The foggy autumn mornings became sunny warm-ish afternoons, which then led to orange-glow sunsets that filled my living room with hints of gold. Twilights were chilly, in shades of mauve, deepening to night fairly slowly. Days are shorter. Sunrise comes later. Sunset surprises me by arriving so soon. Seasons change.

I spent the weekend reading. Taking care of myself. Getting enough rest. Bringing order to chaos. Even turning inward now and then, and reflecting on how best to become the woman I most want to be. It was a lovely weekend, well-spent.

I miss my Traveling Partner. I’m still glad I took the weekend for self-care instead of travel. 🙂 Hilariously, I am already looking forward to next weekend; I’ll probably make the down/back round trip, then. 😀

I look around my studio. No spiders. That’s a relief, actually. lol I’m eager to get some things done, artistically. Feeling well-rested also finds me feeling inspired.

This feels like an easy morning to overlook the potential in a new beginning; I could coast on this now, right here, and be content. There’s more to do, though. More to learn. A better human to be than the one I was yesterday. It’s a journey, and as lovely as life is in this moment, right here, there is more living to do in the moments ahead.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

The quality of the sleep I am getting seems good. I’m not waking during the night. I’m getting to bed at an hour that results in no less than 7 hours of sleep, which I seem to be getting. I’m consuming carefully measured quantities of caffeine, and limiting that to early in the day. I mentally run down the list of carefully selected good sleep hygiene practices that I rely on to get the most out of my resting hours…

…Regardless of all that, I am particularly groggy upon waking to the alarm these last couple work days. My body feels rested. My brain feels unready for the new day. I’m doing my best to properly wake up, to be thoughtful, coherent, ready for the day. So far this is more an exercise in effort than any sort of effective achievement.

A moment in the garden on a summer evening.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the summer heat. The garden isn’t as lush as I’d like it to be. Summer heat. I’m often away all weekend. The time taken to water during the week, before work, and again in the evening as the heat slowly begins to fade to cooler night-time temperatures, really makes a difference when I’m not at home to do it on weekends. This past weekend many of the roses bloomed in what seems a rather early second blossoming of loveliness and fragrance. I take a moment to feel grateful to have gotten to see it.

This year, just one flower.

Peeking out from the summer foliage, a single flower blooms on Nozomi, a delicate miniature rose that is a long-time favorite that I’ve had since… 1993? This year she’s only bloomed this once; she is usually among the most prolific bloomers among my roses. I make a mental note to re-pot her this winter.

“Feeling overwhelmed” is an experience fairly common to being human. Seems more common these days, for more people, although I’d begun to experience it much less myself. Starting in November, 2016, it has become, once again, plenty common for me, as well. “It’s all just too much” is the feeling. I give myself a little internal moment of real understanding, because, as feelings go, the most appropriate response to the feeling of “it’s all just too much” is simply “yes, yes it is” followed by “we’ll get through this, together”. A deep breath. A sigh. I move on from the moment; every moment passes.

I think over an interaction with a friend from earlier this week. She was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears. “It’s all just too much!” A moment of sympathy and support rather quickly became quiet frustration and puzzlement, as it became apparent that she was investing in her feeling of being overwhelmed by building that and growing it, rather than sorting it out and easing her own suffering. Attempts to support and help her weren’t seeming either supportive or helpful, as she quickly interrupted anything helpful, soothing, or perspective-offering, (that could have just as easily been used to calm herself) to reinforce her self-inflicted, home-grown, utterly subjective internal experience with quick contradictions, veering tangents, and distractingly vague exclamations of distress. She quickly shored up her powerfully negative narrative each time I attempted to bring clarity or calm to the shared moment together. So frustrating. Eventually, the time-sensitive nature of schedules and calendars intervened. I went on with my day. She went on with her tears. I am still puzzled at the whole thing; it’s hard to fathom someone not actually accepting the help and support they’ve sought out. I still just don’t get it.

…I don’t have to “get it” – a lot of what is going on just isn’t at all about me. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. That’s not only okay, it’s necessary; I can’t shoulder the burden of all the world’s chaos and damage alone. I manage my piece as skillfully as I am able. I try not to add to the pile. 😉

Still groggy, I check the time. Well, damn. It’s already that time again. I hit that metaphorical reset button, look out the window into a pre-dawn sky that reminds me summer will end, and likely sooner than I expect. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂