Archives for category: inspiration

I didn’t sit down to write until nearly 9:30 am, after a leisurely shower, and close to 12 hours of sleep. Rare for me. (I didn’t sleep continuously through the night; I woke up twice to pee. lol) When I woke, I was unsure of the day, and considered just going back to bed…

…but, there’s an entire day, and a long weekend, ahead of me to enjoy this brief solitary time, a few days with the house to myself, and a lot of quiet (some of it quite lonely). So, I stayed up, showered, put on clean clothes, and finally started hot water for coffee. Oh, hey, I hear the click of the electric kettle just now… be right back!

A ‘coffee flower’ – each as unique as any other flower. I enjoy their brief existence, blossoming as I make my coffee, gone in an instant.

The heat comes on just as I return with my coffee. The 72 degrees that felt so chilly at the end of the evening, last night, feels almost stifling this morning. I turn the temperature down to 60; I won’t yearn for the comfort and warmth of a warmer room until later in the day. Hell… how much of the day will I even spend right here? It’s a chilly autumn morning, fiercely windy, and it might be nice to get a decently long walk in today. The thought puts a smile on my face at the same time that a tear streaks down my cheek. I think of my Granny, and walks we took together on autumn days. South Mountain, Pennsylvania… Cambridge, Maryland… Grants Pass, Oregon… thoughts and places roll past like a slide show. The tears fall softly. Honest tears of sorrow or regret, tears of heartfelt loss, these don’t trouble me at all, they are only more love than my heart can contain – and no one to share it with (right now). I’m okay. She was a splendid strong woman of great character, flawed, human, and of tremendous heart, and I miss her in this autumn moment, considering a walk that, once upon a time, we could have taken together. 🙂

I sip my coffee, comforted by the ordinary routine. I listen to the traffic beyond the studio window. Last night I felt very motivated to paint through the weekend. Just now, though? I am filled with eagerness to tidy up, to create order from chaos, to check off tasks from my list, and to do those things while keeping half an eye on the autumn leaves falling to the deck beyond the glass door, watching for squirrels. It’s that time again; the colder weather, the autumn breezes, I’ll begin putting nuts out for the squirrels and chipmunks, and suet for the birds. 🙂

My thoughts drift to my Traveling Partner and his adventures, and I hope he is doing well. I’m eager to see him when he returns home. I miss him greatly.

I had also definitely missed this solitude, and I had failed hard at the self-care skills needed to ensure I managed to get the quiet time I routinely need, or to seek, or create, the stillness I need to maintain my most chill and contented self. I smile, and forgive myself for my obvious limitations. lol I will continue to practice. Keep working at it. Keep learning and growing. Keep speaking up when the need becomes too great. Keep communicating my needs in an open, honest, and gentle way. All the things. There’s a lot. If I try to write down all the tiny very fine details of “how to” care for oneself very skillfully, from the perspective of what I understand, myself, it would be such a long detailed list that it would almost certainly appear ludicrous to even contemplate! In practice, though, it’s just practice. Do a thing. It worked? Repeat that. It worked again? Pretty reliable. Try it a few times more. Still working? Awesome; now practice until it is quite natural, almost effortless, and it has become part of “who you are”. 🙂 Add another thing. Repeat the process. Simple enough. Stop doing what doesn’t support your emotional well-being and general good health and contentment. (That’s surprisingly a bit harder, and may take more practice.)

I sit sipping my coffee, barefooted, in my studio, with four lovely relaxed days ahead, suitable for my leisure needs. I have not decided what, specifically, to do with them (besides sleeping, showering, and sipping coffee – those I guess I can count on). I listen to the traffic, loud beyond the window. There are dishes to do. Things to put away. A container garden on the deck to “winterize”. There is this heart full of paintings with which to shout what I don’t have the words to whisper. I am hovering in that place of indecision, without urgency. There are no “wrong answers”, only an opportunity to begin again. 🙂

Well. That was a night of something other than rest. lol Nightmares woke me around 2 am. It was almost three before sleep caught up with me again. My dreams, thankfully, shifted gears, but… the content was strange (very) and fantastical… something about a church service breaking out into a raucous, violent, drunken party in the basement of a building in which corporate performance reviews were about to be given out under (for some reason) strict secrecy. There were Leprechauns in attendance (whether they were party-goers or work colleagues wasn’t at all clear), and for some reason, the professional folks were all wearing pajamas, and big screen tvs were showing Saturday morning cartoons. Very odd. Let’s never discuss it again. LOL

…Being awake, sipping a hot cup of coffee, seems a relief, and a clear return to normalcy. 🙂 It’s enough. I yawn through these first sips of coffee, tired after the 3rd (4th?) consecutive night of fairly bad sleep. These things often go in cycles, so I refrain from taking it at all personally, and figure, more than likely, the rough sleep is due to the injured shoulder; it is a pain that is disrupting my sleep. I feel it every time I try to turn over, every time I lay on my right side, and my sleep ends up interrupted, restless, and not very deep. Lots of opportunity for dreams, and yes, nightmares. I remind myself that I already have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and look at my calendar. It’s not on my calendar, so I look it up online, and add it – and invite “my work self”, so it’ll be on my calendar in the office also. 🙂

Nothing to see here – all routine human stuff, the business of living life. 🙂 I’m okay with “average”, “routine”, and “normal”, and drama is not welcome here…so… yeah. I get back to sipping coffee, and feeling this shoulder ache. lol

My thoughts careen through memories and random stream-of-consciousness weirdness for a time.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and sit present with the pain in my shoulder, and the tinnitus in my ears. It’s some time before I realize some of what I’m hearing is traffic beyond the window, and some of it is the fan on my computer. Another sip of coffee, contemplating the day ahead, gently (work has been intense, lately). The cup returns to the stone coaster on the desk with an unexpectedly loud clunk, and I shoot a suspicious look at cup, coaster, and fingers still wrapped through and around the white porcelain handle, motionless – as though freezing for a brief instant somehow mitigates the loud noise in the quiet room. LOL

…I wonder, for the first time, why the hell I am using a stone coaster with a porcelain coffee mug, early in the mornings, in a very quiet environment, when I am specifically cultivating the quiet? This seems an inexplicably counter-productive choice. Shouldn’t I be using a soft, silent, coaster, perhaps of cork… or… fake fur…with googly eyes? I quake silently with mirth at the mental image of a fake fur coaster. (Omg, I need more sleep. lol)

Something about the mirthful moment is a reminder of recent inspiration; my Traveling Partner shared something artistic (a painting technique), and I found it inspiring, fascinating, and potentially very suited to my artistic approach. I’m excited about the weekend to come; maybe I will spend some of it in the studio? The idea becomes a smile, another sip of coffee, and a moment – it almost becomes a plan. My eye roams the room… paint… glitter… glow in the dark… canvases… Yeah, I’m overdue to get some creative work done. I think I screwed myself attempted to exorcise the toxic demon that is an X of mine by way of paint on canvas; an individual so utterly vile, so irredeemably poisonous, that even finishing the representation was hard to approach, and the likeness sits unfinished on my easel, holding me back. Maybe I should “finish” it with some quick machete work, instead? The idea amuses me, maybe enough to finish it properly, let go, and really, finally, completely move on.

…It’s the forgiveness that’s hard, isn’t it? Once we have been wounded badly enough, deeply enough, damaged thoroughly enough, the forgiveness becomes… difficult. It’s hard to stay with the awareness that the forgiveness isn’t about the person who hurt us, not really, it’s about us, ourselves, letting go. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve someone of the wrongs they have done. It’s not an excuse, and does not condone bad behavior. From my perspective, the forgiveness simply allows us to move on, to admit to our pain, to refuse someone who has injured us any further opportunity to command our attention through their hurtful acts; we can walk on, and leave them to deal with their own pain, their own chaos and damage. Not my circus, not my monkeys. It’s a letting go that mitigates some of the damage, releases us from the powerful hold someone who has hurt us can maintain, and lets us get on with our own lives. There is no lasting requirement to see the forgiven one again, ever, or interact with them, or pretend we were not hurt, or to allow any further damage. I think what makes forgiveness hard is that it is clearly more kind, and more compassionate, than vengeance or punishment – but even though either of those (or both) may be entirely deserved, they do a lot of damage to the person needing to deliver them. It’s a bother, and a weird puzzle.

I can’t have vengeance, and I can’t punish that X, ever, enough to “make things right” – there is no amount of punishment available that could do that work. It is what it is. (Maybe we’re all someone’s villain?) Forgiveness tastes bitter in my mouth, like unripe fruit; I haven’t been ready. That portrait has mocked me, now, for months. That X does not “deserve” forgiveness… then I remember; my X may not “deserve” the relief that forgiveness may bring… but I do. 🙂 Forgiveness is for the one forgiving. Forgiveness allows us to walk on. I guess it’s time. After all, what are they to me, now? Nothing and no one; it’s time to let them go in a proper and final way. I’ll feel so much better – and I’ll finish that damned painting. LOL

I glance into my empty coffee mug. Obviously. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I enjoyed my recent days of camping quite a lot. I went alone into the forest, and I spent my hours and days in solitude. It was lovely. I went out figuring that the primary activity would be, with fair certainty, a lot of hiking. I was so wrong about what I needed (and possibly, also about “who I am” in some sense). I spent by far the majority of my time simply sitting in quiet meditation – no real “activity”, at all – gazing into the leaves, and into the sky, and through the forest, into the trees.

The perspective I had been seeking turned out to be, generally, very near where I had pitched my tent.

I mean, sure, I put some miles on these boots, no question, more than 5 miles a day, on lovely trails, some shaded, some sunny, and enjoyed each step, and each new observation.

Each step along this path has been worthy in it’s own distinct way, although I don’t always see it at the time I take the step, and the way ahead is not always obvious.

I returned home aware that in any practical regard, what I was seeking turned out to be something I took into the forest with me. It’s built on my every day meditation practice. It was much more obvious, after a few days of any-time-at-all-no-timer-no-clock meditation practice that what I was feeling in the weeks leading up to my camping trip was, perhaps more than anything else, simply that my practice had become inconsistent day-to-day, and I had begun choosing to use my time quite differently, while allowing myself to feel I was “still practicing” (well, sure, in a hit or miss, “only most days, sort of, but not always” sort of way) – and the practical reality was, in fact, that I wasn’t practicing with the consistency that is very much a feature of practice, itself. Well, damn.

…I’d love to enthusiastically chime in, right about here, with something wholly encouraging about “beginning again”, and while, yes, sure, that’s a thing I have going for me, any time, the truth is also that I rather annoyingly allowed myself to be bamboozled by my monkey-mind, always so eager to embrace the next distraction. A “simple” course-correction on this path still requires a healthy dose of verbs, something beyond intention, real decision-making, commitment, and oh, right, following that? Action. Repetition. Practice. (You know, the doing kind of practice!) I smile with some patience and familiarity; I’ve been here before. I’m entirely made of human. 🙂

I sip my coffee contentedly, this morning. Meditation wasn’t “easy”, this morning; getting up from the cushion was difficult with my right arm still partially impaired by my recent injury. It was a weird and irritating counterpoint to the pleasantness of meditation, itself, and a reminder of the value of self-awareness for practical purposes. Life lesson? Succinctly? “Slow down. Take the time you need. Approach each task mindfully, committed to, and present in, this moment.” Yep. This is me; learning as I go, repeating each lesson as needed. LOL

I take a moment for gratitude, and thoughts of blue skies, green forests, and summer sunrises – because the value in such moments goes beyond what I can capture in a photograph. 🙂

I take a last swallow of my coffee, as I consider how best to make room for 10 minutes of meditation during my work day, too. I’m certain of the value in it, although I’ve been less than skilled about making the time materialize in my day. I return to the office with a measure of commitment to it that I’ve previously lacked, and thoughts of opening the idea up to my team; we’d likely all benefit from a moment to collect our thoughts, each day, if nothing else.

…And…oh, hey… already time to begin again. 😀

I arrived home from my camping trip filled with a sense of ease, and a sense of purpose. Recharged. Restored. Ready. I got what I needed from my time away, and felt fulfilled and satisfied.

I spent rather a lot of time gazing at the many shades of green displayed in the forest on a sunny day.

I felt fit, and accomplished. I walked miles of trails I greatly enjoy. I sat so quietly, for sufficiently long, to coach chipmunks and squirrels to come quite near. I saw deer, and snakes. I even saw a “mountain beaver” – a small mammal I’d never seen before, and didn’t know even existed until I saw it, and asked a passing forest ranger about (and then later, looked it up online for more information). Pretty splendid, generally, and very satisfying time away; I returned home content and, yes, happy.

While I was putting away my gear, I lost my balance and fell, crashing to the concrete floor of the garage with a painful cry, a loud clatter, and a thud. I’d have burst into tears, but struggled to draw a breath; the fall knocked me breathless. I further struggled to get up, surrounded by miscellaneous crap stored in that corner of the garage, some of which toppled onto me. It wasn’t helping that I could not use my right arm… at all. Weird. Painful. Frustrating to go from such a profound high to such a painful low, and so unexpectedly (and quickly). I felt stalled, diminished, and frankly rather strangely terrified (perhaps due to the painful reminder how fragile life actually is?).

My Traveling Partner helped me out with some skillful basic first aid. A weird dizzy trip to the local drugstore followed – yes, I actually thought I was “fine” to drive… one handed (and missing the use of the arm that takes care of things like the gear shift. (What the fuck, seriously? What was I thinking??) I needed a sling for my arm, and more ice packs. I don’t specifically remember striking my head when I fell, but by the time I got home from the store, it was clear that I may have; I needed help at the store, because I couldn’t “navigate” the product aisles to find the slings and ice packs. Things weren’t making sense as they commonly do. Damn it.

…I was super happy to make it safely home. My partner has been helpful, kind, and loving, with minimal affectionate teasing about roughing it for days without difficulty and then getting hurt putting my gear away. I’m laughing about it, too, honestly. It’s … very “me”.

My shoulder hurts. It’s already beginning to feel some better, slowly, although it’ll likely be weeks before I have full use of it (range of motion, and strength) back. My body hurts, and I’ve got some amazing bruises, but… I’m okay. There’s a lot to work with here, and a lot to learn from. Chances are, if I’d felt somehow less “restored” and “fulfilled”, and a tad less merry, while I was putting away my camping gear and unloading the car, I’d have been more cautious, more attentive, and less likely to “throw my weight around” – in a fairly literal sense – and possibly have avoided that fall. It’s not the first time I’ve “fallen hard” (literally or metaphorically) when I felt seriously deeply happy. “Happy” can sometimes be a risky distraction from practical matters immediately at hand. It’s an experience I could use more practice with. lol

I smirk at myself, and sip my coffee – left-handed. I notice that my cup is on the wrong side of my desk to do that easily, setting me up for future spilling of coffee. I correct the location of my coffee cup, and let that go.

I’m sore all over, some of it from camping and hiking, most of it from taking a bad fall after returning home. Over the days to come, I’ll hurt less, and hopefully gain wisdom (and experience points) through healing and reflection. Choosing my path is only a beginning; walking it is where the value lies, and there are verbs involved, and – clearly – my results vary. LOL

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂

I look at the time, and finish my coffee. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

These days I seem wholly contented more often than not. Days sometimes slip by, without noticing I have not written a word, and life feels generally very pleasant within the limited context of my own experience. (Admittedly, when I look beyond that limited lifetime, I see so much struggle, so much pain, and so much unpleasantness, it is hard not to avert my gaze.) Even this lovely life filled with balance and quiet joy holds opportunities to improve, to love more skillfully than I do, to take care of myself more skillfully that I yet know how, and to be of greater service to hearth, and home, and community. Growth gets more complicated, it seems, the more contented I am. 🙂

My gear is packed, with the exception of the clothes I’ll be wearing, and a handful of things that I put through the wash yesterday, and an Rx that I’ll drop in my bag after I take it before bed tonight. I’ll leave for the office tomorrow morning, and head to the camp site after work. I was more ready than I realized, and there were few purchases to make; even my stores of camping food were in good supply and had been kept reliably well-thought out to support a trip to the trees without major shopping (they double as “emergency supplies” between camping trips, creating an ongoing incentive to keep them well-stocked all year).

I’m excited to be out in the woods, camping among the trees, listening to birdsong and breezes. I’m looking forward to uncomfortable hours of self-reflection, meditation, and study. I’m looking forward to thoughtful sketches of small flowers, and reading books I haven’t started yet. I’m looking forward to shameless napping in the heat of the afternoon, lulled to sleep by the buzzing of various insects. I’m looking forward to moments of insecurity, fearfulness, and doubt, and feelings of uncertainty, and inadequacy, and the feelings that follow all of those, when I master them in those moments, and feel my sense of ease and assurance return. I’m eager to sit down “face to face” with the woman in the mirror, and have a chat (figuratively speaking); I find camping exceedingly useful for brushing away the distractions, and really getting focused on the things I need to face, and deal with. I could be a better human being than I am right now, this morning – this journey (and practice) is a way to get there. 🙂

I am also just… tired. Cognitively fatigued. Weekends, however chill and relaxing, aren’t quite enough at this point to get me the deep cognitive, emotional, and intellectual, rest that I need so badly. Nearly every moment, of most any day, is filled from start to end with interactions, and human voices, and this, that, or the other thing pinging on my consciousness. I need a break from all of that, long enough to get properly rested, in order to really grow and benefit from all that I am exposed to, and all that I have learned. 🙂 My ‘brain buffer” is full. Sleep isn’t enough to clear it. I’m sometimes cross with frustration that results from nothing more than feeling persistently distracted and overloaded. “Too much”.

So, tomorrow… well, from the perspective of write here, I guess today. Tomorrow I’ll be finishing loading the car (it’s mostly already loaded), and double-checking that I have coffee, my bee sting kit, and any medication I may need, and adequate cash for picking up a bundle of firewood from the camp hosts up the road. 4 nights out. 4 days. Long enough to really appreciate the luxuries life routinely makes available (through not having them) and long enough to have to push past personal demons queuing up for attention, and to have to kick aside any “baggage” in my way, on a path of self-reflection, re-calibration, and rest. 🙂

I expect to return with pictures of flowers, sunsets, blue skies, paths ahead of me, and moments. I expect to return with a clear heart and sense of purpose. Expectations can be huge buzzkills in real life, so I sip my coffee, smile, and let those go. 🙂 It’s enough to be here, ready to go there, and to let that be what it is, when the time comes. 🙂 For now? It’s just a Monday morning, over coffee, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂