Archives for category: gratitude

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping my second coffee of the morning, listening to garden videos, and reflecting on a recent profoundly pleasant compliment a colleague paid me. I realize I am allowing myself to maintain layered distractions, which doesn’t really work well for me. I pause the video to sit with my thoughts and focus on my writing. The coffee? Not much of a distraction, really, although I must admit I am not being especially mindful to juggle my coffee and my thoughts. Would be more mindful (and focused) to do one or the other (and I often sit silently sipping my first cup in a quiet room, or out on the deck, with that in mind).

Compliments feel really good. They also, rather oddly I think, feel like “validation” – as though indeed I had “earned” whatever lovely words came my way. It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea that these lovely words and pleasing compliments are no more personal (or “real” or “true”), than the unwelcome slights or criticisms (or trolling) I may be exposed to in the course of a day. It’s all very subjective, and tends to say more about the person giving the compliment (or insult) than the intended recipient. It’s an opinion. Often an unsolicited opinion. It’s for sure much nicer (even welcome) to hear pleasant compliments than to have to deal with insults, just saying; there’s nothing personal in either one.

On the other side of the interaction, it sometimes feels very gratifying to savage someone with words when we are hurt or angry. It’s reliably unkind. Generally unnecessary. Rarely actually useful. Certain to damage a relationship (if any exists). I know, for myself, the wiser choice is to consider my anger and hurt, discover the source of my pain and deal with it myself honestly, and let go of lashing out at some other person. Even if I feel I have been “wronged” in some way, it’s rarely worthwhile to seek some kind of paybacks or punishment, however emotionally satisfying it may feel to do so in the heat of the moment.

Compliments are altogether different. They feel just as good to give as they do to receive. Giving someone honest positive feedback, or offering a pleasant observation, and seeing them light up (because it does feel good to be appreciated) is a lovely mood booster. I tend to choose to give encouragement often and quite freely (while also keeping it authentic and real). I avoid adversarial or authoritarian sorts of criticism or negative feedback, mostly because it feels pretty shitty to receive it, and rarely gets put to any sort of good use as a result. There are better ways to communicate concerns, boundaries, needs, and expectations than through negative feedback and criticism. That’s my own position on it. Obviously, you do you – but if you explicitly prefer negative feedback (sometimes called “painful truth”), let’s not hang out, shall we? LOL It’s just not fun. We both have better things to do with our time. πŸ˜‰

Every sunrise is a new beginning. What will you do with it?

I woke early-ish, but pretty near to the sunrise. I dressed quickly, and was surprised when I noticed my Traveling Partner already awake and up for the day. Generally, half the point of my morning camera walks is to give my partner a bit of time to sleep deeply without having to endure my snoring! He didn’t-quite-invite-me to stay home this morning, pointing out that since he was up I didn’t have to go… I really enjoy my camera walks and time out on the trail or alongside a meadow in the mornings, though, so I went. For me. It was nice. Chilly, though, and it is clearly autumn. There are fallen leaves on the street. The air has “that fall smell”. It wasn’t raining, though… I thought about driving out to the nature reserve to get pictures of water birds and nutria on the marsh, but changed my mind as I drove when I passed a flipped over wreck of a one-car collision that must have happened sometime late yesterday. I lost my enthusiasm to drive any distance – and almost turned around to return to the safety of home. Instead, I went to the nearby meadow trail that I favor on weekday mornings. The sunrise was lovely.

I am focused on the garden today (at least for now). I’ve got plants to plant. Seeds to sow. Beds to clean up for fall. Seeds saved from earlier crops to clean up and put in labeled packets for later planting. …I’ve got a list…

New roses waiting to be planted, and seedlings almost ready to be planted. There’s probably a metaphor here somewhere. πŸ™‚

I guess what I’m saying is that this coffee has gone cold, and the garden isn’t going to take care of itself; it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I sat down with some water, to write and reflect. My first week at a new job wrapped up quite pleasantly and productively. I’m listening to Lizzo remind me “It’s About Damn Time“. I’ve got a little stack of flower seeds for fall sowing. It’s time to decide specifically where they go and put them there. Other fall seeds are sown in modules, waiting to be planted in the raised bed. Summer-sown veggies are sprouting in the autumn sunshine. We got our first real rain of the fall this week, too – so lovely!

While my Traveling Partner’s son visited us, I made a short trip up the road on a wee adventure to look at garden statues and the sorts of dΓ©cor suited to turning some corner in a garden and discovering some delight. Why not? It’s the sort of thing (for me) that daydreams are made of. I went to Dundee Garden Art, and wandered their lovely collection of things for gardens. So worth the visit!! I see several things I want for my garden… but this is where planning and dreaming collide; the moment of whimsical speculation, the “what if…?”, the temptation, and the wondering. I don’t need to rush this, or take any sort of immediate action. This kind of aesthetic detail, I find, benefits from some time and consideration. I’ll daydream about it awhile, and eventually probably do the thing that caught my fancy first. lol

Quan Yin is surely worthy of a place in my garden.

My Traveling Partner asks for my thoughts on some upgrades to the shop. His business is developing, and already the small CNC machine that was “enough” when he got started is no longer enough machine to do the jobs he needs to do. It just can’t be counted on to get the job done. We sit down and look over his plan. This is no time for daydreams; we are practical and cautious, with an eye on hopefully just doing this the one time. (Things don’t always work out that way, particular now that so many items have to be purchased unseen, from an online store. Return-and-try-again is a real risk.) Our results vary. We roll with it. Talk it over together. Finalize a plan. Take action.

The Autumn sunshine sneaks through the blinds, filtered and softened. I smile. We’re in a good place together. Sunshine and love.

The new job is hard to assess from the vantage point of the first week. I’ve been doing “onboarding” tasks, and tackling various “annual compliance training” modules. No daydreaming. No planning. Just action, a bit of task processing and box ticking. I’ve got a checklist. πŸ™‚ I’m enjoying the vibe, though, and the company doesn’t waste time on excessive meetings. It’s nice to have the time to get real work done, even if I’m just onboarding right now. πŸ˜€ In all identifiable respects, so far, this is a great job for me. I enjoy the team I’m on (and I’ll get to meet them in person next week), and there are enough familiar faces around to feel very much “at home” with my peers. I’m even having fun. No complaints. πŸ˜€

Time passes. I’m not the woman I was at 21 (I’m fairly sure I would have found her insufferably arrogant, and doubtless she’d have viewed me similarly harshly). Am I a better person than she was? A better human being? I can’t be sure of that, but I know I am happier, more content, more resilient. Finally. All those new beginnings have gotten me somewhere… and I didn’t even have to give up my daydreams. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again; my path does not end here. I think I’ll have some tea. πŸ™‚

I got a walk in this morning. The mornings are cooler. The sun rises later. I felt rather as if I “slept in”, but it’s more that the sunrise has shifted and affects my timing. I haven’t used any sort of alarm, not even my artificial sunrise on Home Assistant) since I left my previous job. It’s lovely.

Tuesday sunrise.

I sat for a moment watching the sun rise. Today is a work day. No need to rush, though. I have a handful of meetings on my calendar, related to onboarding in this new job. It’s a relaxed, very organized experience without being stifling or rigid. Yesterday was excellent as first days go. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to sort out and understand more deeply, and quite a handful of new tools to msster. No objection from me; there is a lot of opportunity for growth in this.

So far, this is a very good week in a choice new role. Lovely morning, too.

…This cup of coffee is about gone, and I would definitely like another. Sounds like a reasonable point for a new beginning…

4 days to the start of my new job. It’s a Thursday, today. Tomorrow I should get the next update from my new employer with login details and such. The new laptop is already here. I’m excited about this next new beginning, and I am entirely over any grieving that resulted from the abrupt and unanticipated but mostly decently well-managed lay-off from my previous job. I’ve greatly enjoyed the luxury of having two months “off” between these jobs – I feel really ready to get on with things. πŸ™‚ I got a lot of projects done at home, too, and spent ample time in the garden, and out on trails with my camera in my hand. πŸ˜€

Yesterday is already a bit of a blur. Honestly, a lot of the days behind me now are a tad “blurry” – my Traveling Partner has taken up quite a bit of our shared time with discussions about his/our new business, the CNC machine that should be supporting it (and frankly isn’t), and the stress of evaluating whether this new CNC machine is the POS that it seems it may be, and what to replace it with (and how to get that done sooner than later). Me getting back to work is a helpful stress reducer for both of us; it’s our safety net, and provides continuous revenue to support growing a young business. Over coffee this morning we follow-up on previous conversations CNC-wise, and make some growth-focused decisions that may have been “too risky” if I were going to be out of work for a longer indefinite period. It’s an exciting time. Stressful, too, but mostly exciting.

Yesterday afternoon I got a couple hours of solo time at home – a rare treat. My partner and his son headed to the city for adventure. I had expected they might be gone many hours… Nope. The city has “gotten pretty bad” over the past couple years, and the rampant homelessness problem that has created a lot of trash and vermin on downtown streets, and seen tent villages rise on corners and in community parks all over, is worse than inconvenient and unattractive – it’s actually created considerable risk just being in those downtown areas at all. Violent crime and property crime, street corner harassment, vehicle thefts and break-ins… it’s all pretty common in the city these days. Shootings are routine. I’m grateful that we moved well away from the city.

My partner and his son returned home after just a couple hours (basically the time it takes to drive there and back). I think their plan is to head out for some other place at some point today. I’m looking forward to having that time to myself to chill, reflect, and be ready for the new job next week. πŸ˜€ It’s been nice visiting with my step-son, and hanging out the three of us as a family, but… I am “all peopled out” (and have been for awhile) and I’ll definitely benefit from having some quiet time at home. My partner “gets it”, although we’re quite different in this regard, and he has maintained a steady commitment to getting me that time that I need while his son is visiting. There are for sure things they’d like to do together. πŸ™‚

So… here it is an new day. Heading quickly toward a new beginning. It’s time for change. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€