Archives for category: Mindfulness

So… the news, right? Problematic, most certainly if you are a woman. Not solely because abortion services are a sometimes necessary piece of a woman’s reproductive healthcare, but also because of what the recent SCOTUS decision says about how those people devalue female human beings, generally. There will be plenty of folks throwing words about the issue(s) at our collective consciousness for days (weeks, months). Anything I might want to say is likely to be covered more skillfully by another voice. I’ll let this one go; know that I’m am hurting over it, myself. Shocked and appalled and angry, like a lot of other people. I’ll be writing letters to elected representatives (not because it is assured to be the most effective action to take, just that I can take it, repeat it, and do so as often as needed to feel heard). I’ve got plenty of stamps for snail mail, and great internet connectivity for emails.

…But… Or… And? Maybe “and” is right… please take care of yourself.

Take time for joy, too.

My Traveling Partner and I have been putting a lot of time into “the (new) family business”. It’s fun to work together on a task, and enjoy the shared experience of successful completion and a job well done. I think it also serves helpfully to give my partner better insights into what I realistically can and can’t actually do these days. When I’m just standing around, or hanging out watching videos, it’s probably pretty easy to overlook how much pain I may actually be in, or that I struggle to climb a ladder, or that standing on my ankle for long results in intense fatigue (pretty quickly), or that I often just “run out of energy” in the late afternoon.

…I started this several days ago. I put it aside, because it didn’t look like political events were going to improve (or change) much at all, and also, life is fucking busy right now, and I grab every chance I can to hang out with my Traveling Partner – even when that choice may not be ideal self-care. I fucking love that guy, and our mortal time together is precious and limited. Today? Today I hurt. I’m quite a lot of pain, and returned home from a long seeming work day in the local co-work space to my partner’s shitty day, bad mood, and surliness. I ran an errand. Came home. He’s frank and clear with me, not unkind just having his own experience. I don’t really want any part of that mess, right now, so… I head to the studio and sit down to write.

Sometimes we just need room to be. Better or bad, convenient or not, there are moments in a human life when handling it alone feels ideal. I mean… that’s one woman’s opinion. I happen to like some solo time (like, a lot of it), so perhaps I am biased. I enjoy my own company. πŸ™‚

When it’s just me, “everyone” in the room wants to do what I want to do, without regard to what that happens to be. lol Read? Sure. Write? Hell, yes. Paint? I’m ready for it. Watch some videos on YouTube? I’m down for that and I’ll definitely be okay with whatever I may choose to watch. lol. Cook a meal? It’ll definitely be whatever I may enjoy, myself, without holding space for other preferences. Just sit awhile, in a quiet room? No problem – and no interruptions (however long I may sit quietly). Go to bed ridiculously early? Sure. Go for it. Stay up foolishly late? Also fine. Listen to the music loud? I can do that any day, any time, but when I’m alone it’s often a different playlist.

…I’m just saying, sometimes I really enjoy hanging out with the woman in the mirror, just being.

Solo time is peculiarly rare these days. Life wedges in a lot of human interaction, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of working from home, in spite of making an effort to get the downtime I actually do need. My Traveling Partner is social (very), and we adore each other. Time together is time well-spent and these mortal lifetimes are limited and too brief. Friends? I don’t see them often enough these days, so it’s rare to turn down a chance to hang out – even if it might have been excellent solo time, with different choices. Work? Even working from home full-time, I “see” a lot of my colleagues on calls, and the conversation is almost continuous in the work channels on Slack. Running errands puts me out in the world interacting with more other people. They’re everywhere. lol Finding moments to be really alone actually takes real effort and planning. I’ve got a camping trip planned for the end of July. πŸ™‚

My partner checks in with me. We’re okay. He’s careful to confirm that he was gentle enough with me; he was having a pretty terrible day apparently, and his emotions were raw and on the surface. I appreciate the consideration, and we share appreciative grateful words of love. I make a point of ensuring he is aware of my physical discomfort, also making a point to be considerate, and gentle with my words. Sometimes we’re sufficiently emotionally “rugged” to roll with a moment of temper – helpful because we’re both fucking human – other times we need more tenderness and care from each other. Today feels good. Connected and intimate. Aware. Compassionate and empathetic. Nonjudgmental. Feeling heard without having to try so hard. It’s nice.

Late afternoon hints at becoming evening. It’s a warm day, and I hurt too much to cook anything that requires a lot of effort. Burgers? Maybe. I don’t mind making the run. A sit down dinner out would be lovely…but… Even now, neither of us feel really comfortable in public spaces that are occupied by people in close proximity. It’s pretty convenient not being sick every two or three weeks with some sniffle or stomach ache, and while it may not have stopped COVID in its tracks, the social distancing thing has been excellent for our health. LOL Sandwiches? Burgers? I don’t actually care much – I barely have any appetite, in spite of taking appropriate steps to manage my pain. The pain shouts into my consciousness louder than my empty stomach. It is what it is.

I take a sip from my glass of clean water, and pause for just a moment to really appreciate having access to a steady supply of potable, filtered, clean drinking water. Then – I begin again.

I’m having a moment. It has lasted most of the day, on and off. Maybe it’s me. I’m in more pain than usual, and I woke with a vicious headache and a bit of a “fuck this shit” sense of the world around me. I feel crowded “by everything”, and I seethe in the background without having anything to be properly angry over. Between the headache, and the tension in my partnership that may or may not be to do with the pain I’m in, or the pain he’s in, or whatever-the-fuck today is about, I’m pretty well “over” the whole today thing, generally. Fuck Wednesday. I mean… today. Now. This week. I’m cross and I hurt and I feel disrespected and unappreciated. Possibly a universal condition, in some circles. Some Wednesdays are lovely. This one has pretty much sucked fairly completely, more or less end to end. I’m not even sure why. It sort of just feels as if every time I relax for a minute, something is skidding sideways somewhere, or someone is snarling at me, or some shit that seems small to me is a fucking huge deal to someone else who is ready to just die on that fucking hill rather than cope gently with another human being. Over it. Over it. Done. Finished. While I’m on about it – fuck this headache, too.

I look for a picture to calm me. Fuck flowers. I look for music to soothe my savagery. I find this. This. This other thing, here. Not doing it for me. This feels better… it hits a nerve. Thanks, BeyoncΓ©.

Why the hell has today been so… hard? I mean, I know how much pain colors my experience. Impersonal. Encroaching on my consciousness. Shrinking my world. It probably doesn’t actually “show” to anyone just looking at me – too many years of “appearances” and “coping”. I’m not alone. Not saying that I am. Not saying there aren’t a lot of people who have it worse. It’s not a competition or a race. There are no “cool points” for enduring more pain, or being more obviously in a bad way. Pain simultaneously humbles me and drives me into myself. Resilience takes practice. “Sometimes ya gotta get knocked down to get up!” Isn’t that the truth!

I take a breath. Exhale. Relax. Take steps to move on. Change the music. Change the picture.

Change the picture. Change the thoughts. Change the perspective. Change is.

It’s time to begin again. There are verbs involved.

Yesterday I prepared a meal for my Traveling Partner and a visiting friend using vegetables from the garden.

We walked around the garden together, as I harvested peas and radishes, Swiss chard and daikon, and took note of which crops have been doing well, and which have been lagging behind. It’s been a slow chilly spring. Almost summer and the daytime temperatures are still generally in the high 60s to low 70s (Fahrenheit). The peas have been doing incredibly well. Radish, daikon, and bush beans appear to be doing very well, too. The recently planted peppers and the eggplant are doing well, but it looks like it’ll be awhile before I’m harvesting anything there; they need a few more sunny days and some warmer afternoons. The container garden, other than the peas, is not doing so well. Germination rates are poor, and this is likely because the first plantings were mostly “old seeds” that had been kept around from previous seasons, but stored in paper in a haphazard way. I find myself wondering is I might want to abandon those grow bags in future years for all but proven partial shade crops – like the peas, which are just exploding with eagerness to provide, and beautifully weighed down with young pea pods.

Veggies from my garden.

…There’s a metaphor here…

The planter box, so carefully built and filled, and planted with seeds chosen with care, is very successful… even the recently planted melons have sprouted in a promising way. Seems so obvious this is the way to go, right? Except I’ve got a wild “garden helper” fucking shit up out there, digging, and eating seedlings. LOL

What I’m saying is that even when we “get all of it right”, we may face some challenging circumstances in life, in love, in our professional endeavors. Just keeping it real. Do 100% of everything correctly, make all the “right” choices – still no guarantee of success. There’s a lot of “good fortune” involved in our individual successes, and a lot of help. We’re interdependent. We rely on each other. The well-chosen seeds planted in my garden? Yeah, I didn’t grow the plants that produced those seeds. I selected them from an online catalog from a vendor I felt I could trust. Interdependence. I didn’t built that planter box (although I helped a little bit, the design and effort were not exclusively mine). Interdependence. I was not the first to spot the handiwork of my wild garden “helper”; my Traveling Partner spotted the missing melon sprouts opposite the undamaged hill with healthy green seedlings before I did. Interdependence. We don’t walk our path alone.

A wee snake traveling through a flower bed. It’s easy to overlook fellow travelers as they make their own way.

…It is as important to choose our traveling companions on life’s journey as any other detail. Whether they are merchants who provide the goods and services we favor, or our friends, and even the loved ones we keep close and connect with frequently. These choices matter every bit as much as healthy self-care and wellness practices do. They affect our health as directly as the food we eat, and the media we consume.

I’m not telling you anything new. I’m also not telling you what changes – if any – you might want to make. I’m just saying; our relationships matter and affect the quality of our experience. Build good ones.

Like adding compost to my garden, it makes sense to cultivate healthy relationships. There is value in expressing gratitude and appreciation. There is value in participation and giving back. There is value in listening deeply, and checking assumptions and expectations. There is value in making choices with care – instead of free-falling through moments with strangers and shopping Amazon for every-fucking-thing. There are no “bootstraps” with which to pull yourself up, all alone and utterly independent of the goodwill and effort of others. That’s just… fucking dumb. Trace things back, you’ll find that you had help. πŸ™‚

Never too late to begin again. To connect. To care. To choose. It’s a journey, and there are opportunities to take detours and choose another path. It’s your journey.

What might you see along the way, if you change the way you’re going?

I tend to think of “challenges” as negative, and to think of “being overwhelmed” as a byproduct of generally negative emotional experiences or circumstances. You, too? It’s a misleading oversimplification, though, isn’t it? I think for a minute about the experience of an “overexcited” or “overstimulated” exhausted toddler, well-past the point that can be supported by their as-yet-undeveloped emotional resilience, frustrated over some “nothing” moment (when viewed externally, as an observer), dissolving into tears or tantrums. Doesn’t matter that the day behind them was excited, fun-filled, positive, rewarding, engaging, or adventurous – they’re tired, they’re done, and it’s finally all just “too much”. They yield to their emotions. I’m 59 years old and it still happens in my experience of life, too. Hard to be irked about it, it’s just a thing. Part of the human experience. I’m sure it serves – or once served – some clear purpose for human primates. Maybe a warning to slow down and let my brain catch up on all the newness and excitement?

Things have been exciting around here. I’ve been helping my Traveling Partner get his business started. Very exciting. His business – our future. It’s a big deal. There are new tools and machines to learn. New processes to master. New skills to pick up. There are other skills to refine and improve. There are tasks yet to be completed – I know we each have our own focus, and our own “to do list”. It’s his business, but I’m 100% about supporting that endeavor with him; we’re a team. A partnership. All of that is exciting and positive – not a single legitimate “down side”, other than the other positives piling up that simply require some effort (mostly in the form of cognitive work, learning some new software, and a couple of really cool tools that I’m excited about artistically, for my own creative endeavors). Still, there is so much new stuff coming at me day-to-day right now, there’s been no time to write. I mean, that’s what it has felt like. I’m sure I could have made other choices, but I’m not ashamed to be making a point to choose supporting my partner’s developing business.

My brain is tired. I have been mostly sleeping pretty well, but kind of a lot. I go to bed pretty early. I sleep as late as circumstances permit. My list of shit to get done exploded over the past couple weeks. I feel chronically behind on just about everything. Hike with my new camera? It rains too hard to go, or too hard to take the camera out into the weather. I feel held back by that and frustrated. I’m eager to get out into the garden. Some days I just haven’t got the strength to do the work. Other days the rain keeps me in. Build a website for my partner’s business? Unfamiliar interface and new software to learn. I feel a bit stalled, but not terribly frustrated; I at least expected to face a learning curve. More to learn. There’s the laser cutter, the Cricut, the pen tablet… so much to learn. Gardening, too. I’m no master gardener. I just sort of get by doing my best. I’d like to do better. I’d like to feed us from our garden.

If I just stack everything up or put it on a list, it does sort of start freaking me out. I feel so behind on “everything”. I had terrible nightmares last night that I had invested so much of my time and attention into all the new stuff to learn, do, try… that my friends all just sort of… slipped away. I was just starting to achieve mastery of “everything”, and turned to share this with my Traveling Partner… and… he wasn’t there. Gone. Just… gone. I looked out my window and society appeared to have crumbled. There were few people, and all strangers to me. I looked at my hands, in my dream, and they were withered with age and effort, and I was feeble and weak. All my “new knowledge” and skills were already … out of date. Useless. I woke feeling sad and lonely, and it persisted for some minutes after waking.

Nightmares are unpleasant. They have a visceral quality that lingers. They are crafted directly from our emotions and feel somehow inescapable. They’re still only dreams.

The thing is, there’s more good here than struggle. It’s just… a lot to take in. Yesterday I harvested lovely peas and Swiss chard and radishes from the garden, and dinner included that bounty. It was delicious. Spending hours with my Traveling Partner designing, building, making, learning – those are happy hours, well-spent in each other’s good company. Learning new skills? Great for keeping youthful well-being and perspective. Every detail taken individually is pretty fucking splendid. I sip my coffee and reflect on that. On the splendor. Feels pretty good. I feel fortunate, and even “blessed”. It’s a good place to be. That “to do list” doesn’t need to drive my experience. It’s just a wee map. Tells me where the turn up ahead is to be, and where to go next. Useful.

Today a friend will come around to visit. There’s been so little of that with the pandemic. I’ve missed the companionship of my friends. Losing touch with so many feels uncomfortable. I tell myself I could do better to stay in touch… which is a lot of pressure to put on one human. We’re all in that place. We could each do more, better, somehow. It can quickly snowball into a spiral of frustration and dismay. I sip my coffee figuring I won’t do that today. Small bites of life are enough to taste it. πŸ™‚ Today, a little housekeeping in the morning. A little hanging out in the afternoon. An evening spent wrapped in love with my Traveling Partner, steadfast and true, best friend, lover, spouse, business partner… I am fortunate indeed.

A glance at the clock tells me it is already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I queue up my favorite Portishead + Morphine playlist… reminders that “this too shall pass – or maybe not, but fuck, it’s life, right?” It’s enough to keep me engaged in the work in front of me, honey-smooth and mellow, low notes and minor chords, and the occasional poignant moment in the background. An Rx solution to “take the edge off” – not enough to put the pain to rest completely, but frankly, I wouldn’t be comfortable with coming so close to shutting down my ability to think and work and write in the middle of a work day.

Weird world. Chaos and pain and anger everywhere. Hate. Killings. More killings after that. Blood in the streets. What a strange and terrible time to be alive – but it’s not as if we get a choice; we’re born into the world as it is. Nothing more.

I take a breath, and exhale. I go looking for something more uplifting to listen to in the background. I don’t have anything in mind aside from being distracted from my personal experience of subjective pain, and the very ongoing need to manage that. It’s a good track for data entry, and I pull my shoulders up, straightening my spine. I don’t “feel any better”, but I know “good posture” results in “more up time”. I feel a certain subtle resentment over turns of phrase that conflate human beings with machinery… I am not a machine. Just this fleshy meat sack wrapped around a consciousness. Humbling. Limited.

It’s been an amazing (delightful) few days. I’m not sure what the “secret sauce” has been. My Traveling Partner has been in the shop (a lot) working on projects (several for me), and I’ve been enjoying sharing some of that time, and helping where I easily can. The quality of life lift that results his handiwork is more than pleasant or convenient; I feel very loved. Every time he finishes some project that is the result of some stray “I wish I had a…” or “it would be cool if this would…” kind of remark, I feel heard and understood. It’s special. I feel respected and cared for.

A new cutting board, made for me.

…Then, in some unexpected moment, he’ll snarl at me out of frustration or annoyance over something or another, and I am reminded how human we actually both are. lol Which is to say, “very”. Very human, indeed. Most of the time I let those moments go. Sometimes I laugh with him over it. Sometimes I cry. (Yeah, very human.) Those sorts of moments are more common when one of us is in pain. Pain shrinks our world, pulls our focus inward, and we lose perspective.

My Traveling Partner comes in to share with me his latest finished work; lovely earrings, laser cut from wood. They delight me. (Earrings are the only jewelry I commonly wear, and I do love a fun new pair of earrings!)

Partnership has highs and lows. Pain comes and goes. There’s this moment, now, and very little else has to grab my attention “right now”. It’s okay to take a breath, and begin again.